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Query on Broadband Connection Speed


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#1
mrblue

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I have a query for anyone with solid technical knowledge as mine is fairly limited.

I've just been on the phone to BT and they're going to upgrade me from 1MB to 3MB download speed for free (as well as send me a free wireless home hub).

Now I day work from home, and I use 2 laptops; they're on all day every day from 8am until 9pm.

I speak to a mate for hours on end every day using MSN. We used Skype at first but the call quality was absolute pants. MSN is far better, but still mediocre. I'm in London, he's in South Wales. Now when I talk to people in USA Skype is much better, almost perfect.

My questions are: if MSN and Skype use the same technology (voip) why are they so different in call quality? Does the fact that my friend's download speed is 4MB make a difference?
Does the fact that I'm sharing my "pipe" with many local users to my exchange make a difference? Why is Skype better to USA than South Wales?

I never have and never will download music or videos etc from the web, and I never will as I have no interest in such things; so you might ask why bother to upgrade my speed - well, I'm hoping it may improve the call quality of MSN/Skype for my long chats during the day. Am I wasting my time?
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#2
mrblue

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Thanks Sean.

You could be right.

I just wondered if there were any voip experts lurking on here - obviously not.

I've got a sneaky suspicion that upgrading to 3MB will make absolutely no difference whatsoever, time will tell.


Regards
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#3
SpaceCowboy706

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I am actually a VOIP service tech (among other products too) at work... but i work for a cable company not a dsl company... In our system the quality of our VOIP connection is affected by packet loss and not speed (Unless of course your speeds are below 512 KB since voip transmission are allot of really small packets). I would reccomend that you check for packet loss before upgrading, since packet loss at high speeds will cause the same stuttering, echoing, and hollow sound that is caused by packet loss at low speeds.

If you dont know how to check for packet loss, follow this:

WITH NO ROUTER
Click on Start
Click on Run
Type in command or cmd depending on your OS
Type in: ipconfig and hit enter
Copy down your default gateway adress
Type in: ping gatewayaddress -l 1200 -n 125 and then hit enter
When the test is done if yopu %loss is above 2 % then you wil have bad quality even if you upgrade.

WITH ROUTER
Click on Start
Click on Run
Type in command or cmd depending on your OS
Type in: ping 66.210.130.10 -l 1200 -n 125 and then hit enter
When the test is done if yopu %loss is above 3% then you wil have bad quality even if you upgrade.
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#4
mrblue

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Hi Spacecowboy. There DOES EXIST a voip guru after all!!! Happy to make your acquaintence!!!

Yes, I had a conversation with a mate of mine this morning who is a serious techy: he also mentioned the "ping" thingy, but said that anything over 40ms was slow. He also suggested that my call quality may be to do with the quality of the BT cable used between my house and my local exchange. If its an old copper cable then it will always be sub-standard. Apparently BT are slowly replacing this with fibre which will give me better quality. Obviously this will take BT decades to complete throughout the country. BT won't replace my cable if I just ring up and ask, I'd have to invent a serious fault first. He also said when it rains and the copper cable gets wet it may also degrade the quality.

He said if I were to migrate to a new supplier like NTL for example, then they will lay a new fibre cable, and hey presto - better quality voip!!!

I have a Netgear router, so I did the second of your tests. Results:

Packets sent: 125. Received 124. Lost 1 (0%)
Approx round trip times. Min 196ms. Max 204ms. Average 198ms.

Now, I assume this test will give different results from a relaxed Saturday afternoon to a working day at say 10am, or 7pm during the week when all the kids come home from school in my local area and are sharing my "pipe" whilst they're doing their homework on the web or chatting to each other for hours on end in their chatrooms????

So, if you (and my mate) are correct then upgrading the download speed will make absolutely no difference whatsoever. Is the solution a brand new shiny FIBRE cable to my local exchange?
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#5
SpaceCowboy706

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but said that anything over 40ms was slow

Your specific reply time can only be measeured as slow in referrence to what an average reply time is inside your isp network (meaning what is the average ping reply from any other customer using the same isp in the same town). The most important thing to look at when trying to compare reply times with other users or friends is the size of the packet you are pinging with vs the size they are pinging with... the 40MS your friend quoted could easily be obtained by changing the "1200" in the ping test to instead a "32" , which is what most all automated ping test and speed tests measure with. In the test I had you run an acceptable range for normal voip operation would be from 110 to 140 MS. You are averaging at the 198 MS reply time mark which is not good and is most likly the cause of your problems.

BT won't replace my cable if I just ring up and ask

You are partly wrong on that... at least in america anyways. In america a cable or phone company cannot just move in, build there own lines on the utility poles (or Underground) without first obtaining a Franchise agreement through the municipal government. That franchise agreement that we have to obtain is in reality an agreement with the city that establishs a minimum expectation of service that we are to provide to paying customers along with rules as to when we have to upgrade our plant/network to keep current with modern technology. This all may be different in whatever country you are in but i am willing to bet, that it is not. My suggestion is that if you have determined your problem is caused from substandard mainlines feeding your neighborhood and your ISP is not going to fix your problem, then by all means contact your local municipality (in the US it would be the Town mayor or even the Better Business Bureau and file a formal complaint against them <--- that will definatly get there butt's in gear i assure you :whistling:

I'd have to invent a serious fault first.

I hope your referring to your lines in your house and not the Mainline that feeds the neighborhood. If you were to damage the neighborhoods mainline that would be a federal offense in the US and you would get fines in the 6 digits and a short prison term... as for the lines inside your own house.... they are exactly that... your lines and you can do with them as you please, so long as your willing to PAY to have them replaced or repaired.

and one last thing....

If its an old copper cable then it will always be sub-standard

I am on a cable connection which is exactly that.... If properly maintained and service work is performed regularly to prevent corrosion and damage then there is no reason why you could not get results like this:
speed.JPG
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#6
mrblue

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I've just realised that you're in the US. I'm in London, UK and I have the impression (I could be wrong) that your technology is a little more advanced than ours! I was talking about logging a fault with BT (my telecoms supplier) about poor call quality with voip, which would result in an engineer being called out and perhaps examining the cable from my house to the junction box in the street outside, and then the cable from there to the local exchange.

I am a little confused now even though everything you said makes sense. I have just repeated the test and I lost 2 packets (1%) and the average time was 199ms. Its Sunday afternoon here about 12.15pm, and it's been raining all morning heavily.

I few days ago I tried to call a friend in Arizona on Skype and the reception was terrible, we gave up after about 50 seconds. Last night he called me on Skype and the reception was absolutely perfect, there wasn't even the normal echo of my own voice which generally occurs. The picture was perfect too. So it seems that my service quality is totally inconsistent, and can't be guaranteed from one day to the next. He told me that he'd just been upgraded from 10MB download speed to 13MB for free, and his upload speed is 1MB. He pays $39 per month!!! However, I now believe the speed to be largely irrelevant, given the complete fluctuations in service quality.

If what you say about the copper cable to be true then there seems not to be a solution to the problem at all!! The only variable not considered is the time I make the call, be it during peak times or off-peak times.

I've also been told that the voip technology used by Skype is slightly different to MSN, its slightly more advanced, which explains the difference in quality between them. There's loads of companies doing free internet calls using voip now, I tried Gizmo Project a few weeks ago, and that seemed fine.

To conclude there doesn't seem to be a definitive cause to the inconsistent results I get, nor a defiinitve TEST that I can perform to pinpoint exactly where or what is causing the problem; nor a remedy!!
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#7
SpaceCowboy706

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I've just realised that you're in the US. I'm in London, UK and I have the impression (I could be wrong) that your technology is a little more advanced than ours!



We are slightly different here.. instead of using software to run voip like the msn and skype your referring to we use hardware in our system (no software whatsoever involved) but it is just as suseptable to poor quality, just like the softweare version, when it encounters packet loss or poor latency like you are experiencing. Here is quick sketch of how are hardware setup is for voip on one of our installs. Warning - Im no graphic artist :whistling:
setup.JPG

I was talking about logging a fault with BT (my telecoms supplier) about poor call quality with voip, which would result in an engineer being called out and perhaps examining the cable from my house to the junction box in the street outside, and then the cable from there to the local exchange.


That is exactly what i reccomend you do.
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#8
mrblue

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Yes indeed. voip is still quite a new technology so there aren't that many people that know about it in detail. I also found it interesting how the US have implemented it with hardware, and the UK using software. I'd like to know why this is the case.

One thing that gives me confindence is the sheer rate at which technology develops - the mind boggles at what we'll be able to do in 5, 10 or 20 years time!!!

Will we have tiny implants under the skin in our wrists that enable us to talk to anyone by simply raising our arm towards our mouths???
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#9
SpaceCowboy706

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as was explained to me... the reason we are using hardware instead of software is because the arris voip modem and the linksys router will soon (supposed to be by 3rd quarter next year) be combined to a all in one unit plus it will have one more addition to it and that is it will also be an access point for your mobile cell phone. meaning that if you are on your cell phone driving around town and anytime your cell phone comes in reach of an access point it will automatically switch over to your homes unlimited phone service. Example i have cox home telephone service which is voip and i also have a cell phone.... i am driving down the street a couple miles away from home talking on my cell phone and someone else in the area has the same voip access point i will auto stop using my 500 anytime minutes and switch over to my unlimited home minutes on thier access point without ever knowing it.....

The reason for this is that we the cable company are combating the phone companies dsl. tv, internet, and cellular bundle (which isnt even owned by the phone company) and ours will be by owned and operated by us, by the middle of next year in all our markets. Now this is just what the company i work for is doing, i cant vouch for the other cable companies although we are the 3rd largest in the world.

PS..... ALSO we chose the hardware route so the customer could use all of thier existing telephone jacks in the house vs having to use the speakers and mic from thier computer (not thaty i have ever used that... that was a guess on how the software version works :whistling: ).... and also we had to be able to provide emergency 911 service for lifeline customers. hardware route is more reliable in that aspect.

Edited by SpaceCowboy706, 27 November 2006 - 03:14 PM.

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#10
mrblue

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I have now been upgraded to 3MB (although my line speed test only shows 1.8MB) and as suspected this has made absolutely no difference whatsoever to the quality of my Skype call. They're still diabolical.
Ping test has also shown no improvement.


Thanks for your input Spacecowboy.


Kevin
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