By Dean Whittaker

Broadband access to the Internet saves us time by increasing the speed at which information can be sent or received. Although a large portion of the population still access the Internet using a 56 K (56,000) bits/sec dialup connection, many of us have opted for a more expensive, faster broadband access. Making sure you are getting the bandwidth that you are paying for can save you both time and money.

Recently, I installed a cable modem with a 1.5 megabit/sec connection in my home. While it appeared much faster than the ISDN 128 K line that it replaced, I suspected that I wasn’t getting the 10 times speed that I expected.

A year ago, I had a T-1 (1.5 megabits/sec) line installed in our office to handle our growing staff need for bandwidth. Again, while it seemed faster that the ISDN it replaced, it wasn’t the 10 times that I expected.

In both cases I employed the website to run a speed test on the connection. For the cable modem, I found I was only getting 250,000 bits/sec. rather than the 1.5 megabits/sec connection promised. A call to the tech support line resolved the issue which was an improperly configured cable modem. It was re-programmed via the cable in ten minutes giving me the full bandwidth for which I was paying.

For the T-1 connection, I found that I was only getting 300 K bits/sec. The bandwidth provider had a bottleneck on their system which was not easily fixed. I received a refund on the $1,000 per month fee I was paying and found anther service provider that was able to give us the full bandwidth we were seeking.

To run a speed test on your system, go to, select “Tools,” then Speed test, and then select from the two test locations. The process will take a minute or two to complete. When it has finished it will give you a bar chart showing your speed compared to other types of connections. Also available on this site is the ability to find out by zip code what speed others are getting from the various bandwidth vendors in your area. Happy FAST surfing.