Dial Up Speed vs. Transfer Rates


Digital Avatar

New Member
I was surfing the other day, and I started wondering. Why all the hype over 56k modems and ISDN and cable modemds and the like? I mean I had a 33.6k modem and a 56k modem both. Sure, I get a higher dial up with my 56k, but whats the point when all i get are less than 8kbps transfer rates, which happen to be about the same as my 33.6. Perhaps its where I live. Maybe larger urban areas have newer phone systems that support higher transfer rates. All I am wondering is if I wasted a good $125 on a 56k modem when my 33.6 was giving me about the same transfer rates. The highest I have ever experienced was 55k transfer when I was uploading files to my site. Any thoughts on this?


Resident Cynic
First, make sure you're not getting Kbps and KBps (kilobits and kilobytes per second) confused. the 33.6K and 56K modems are quoting speeds in Kbps, but transfer rates in web browsers and FTP proggys are usually quoted in KBps, which is 1/8 of the Kbps speed.

Second, the transfer rates quoted by proggys are affected by the file type - things like text files and uncompressed .EXEs can be compressed by the modem's inbuilt compression to get a faster transfer rate, while .ZIP files generally can't.

Third, phone line quality does have an impact - I can only get about 42Kbps connect reliably here and at my old house I had to set the modem to 33.6K mode simply to get a connection. True 56K connections are rare.

As for ISDN and cable - not relying on your normal phone lines (except for uploads with a cable modem) means these services can get a true 64Kbps/128Kbps/whatever connection.

Did you waste your money? That's your decision to make, but I suspect it's too late to get a refund...