Frequently Asked Questions
This issue has received considerable attention recently culminating in the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland (ASAI) issuing an Advice Notice to advertisers regarding how they should qualify their speed claims in their advertisements with a “busy hour speed”. This will provide consumers with the theoretical maximum speed (i.e. up to 2mb) and the busy hour speed (speed assessed during the busy period of the day averaged over a quarter).
How do I measure speed?
There are many options available that allow you to measure the speed of your line for example any of the following websites offer free speed testing:
What speed do you need?
The amount of data you transfer depends on what you do. If you are new to broadband you will most likely be a light or medium user using the internet for general surfing, email use and occasional downloading of music and / or video clips. If a few people in your household share the connection then you may be better off with a medium-usage connection.
If you use the internet for a number of hours each day and download extensively then you should be looking for a product with a large download capacity and high download speed. Downloading lots of music, viewing a lot of video content or running streaming applications such as internet radio will dramatically increase your usage.
As a guide you can view approximately 20 pages on the internet for each megabyte (MB) of download, while an average four minute MP3 (music file) is approximately 4 MB and a five-minute movie trailer can be as much as 30 MB.
What are the terms used when referring to speed?
This is a measure of how fast your connection delivers content to your computer when you move files from the internet on to your PC
This is the measure of how fast content is delivered when you send files from your computer or local area network to others using the internet.
kbps, kb/s or k
This is the kilobit per second transfer rate, i.e. multiples of a thousand bits (b) per second And should not be confused with capacity (used to measure file size) which is measured in Bytes (B) with each byte containing 8 bits.
Transfer rate, also referred to as‘speed’ or throughput; which is the speed at which data can be transmitted between devices. If you require large data downloads then the highest data transfer rate is most desirable.
In a network, latency, is the time delay to get from one designated point to another, generally the time for the data downloaded from a server on the internet to reach the user. Low latency is crucial for broadcast (streaming) applications and gaming.
What is the difference in speed?
The maximum speed the product is capable of technically achieving can differ from the actual speed achieved, depending on many factors e.g. time of day, contention ratio etc. Broadband products typically come in a range of download speeds. The higher the download speed the faster it is to open web pages, download files etc. More sophisticated uses of broadband such as online gaming typically require higher broadband speeds.
To put this in context if you have used a 56k dial-up connection, 512k is nearly 10 times faster whilst an ‘8 meg’ (8Mbps) service is about 140 times faster.