The Internet Fast Lane/ What the internet really is. ( in words you don’t need a degree in computer science to understand)

This is actually a very long, extremely well done video that does a really good job illustrating WHY ISP’s should have no say whatsoever in what CONTENT is provided over the internet, however i think it is a little lacking in technical description of just how much gall the Isp’s have to even SUGGEST that “bandwidth hogs” are the issue.

Now, If you’ve found this blog, obviously you know what the internet IS, but do you know how it works? If not, here’s you’re chance to spend maybe 5 minutes tops getting the lowdown on what you’re actually paying your Internet Service Provider for every month, and why phrases like “slowing the internet down” are asinine.

INTERNET 101 ( a quick crash course on where all the cats are kept.)

The internet itself is an abstract concept really, the internet actually CONTAINS no data, it merely directs us where to find it. Quite simply put when you type “www.facebook.com” into the bar at the top of your browser what your computer really does is it sends a message to what are called the “Root Name Servers” which are essentially the phone books of the internet, and when queried with a name, they feed your computer the numeric location or “IP Address” of the site you are looking for. Once your computer has been told by the Root Servers that when you typed http://www.facebook.com you were actually looking for 173.252.110.27, your browser opens that address, and low and behold facebook pops up. Once you’re on facebook, everything you’re viewing is just webpages and content stored on Facebook’s servers. Everything you do from then on until you attempt a visit another webpage is completely between your computer’s browser and Facebook’s servers. When you watch a video your mother posted of her dressing your pet up in humiliating ways while you’re off at college, the video file is downloaded to your computer, viewed, and then deleted when you close the page.
So there you go, no degrees necessary, you know understand the basis of the internet and how it works.

To summarize the video, Internet Service providers want to charge more for certain sites, and depending what you pay for is what you can see. Their claim is that the internet it so “busy” with searches, and “being slowed down” because of all the traffic we issue upon it, that this is necessary. Bull—–Crap.

I can’t even BEGIN to tell you how much of a lie this is. that is to say, the internet itself cannot be slowed down.

Ignoring your computer itself being slow, there are 3 points at which an individual internet connection can be slowed down, The client (you), the host (the servers of the website you’re visiting), and the Root servers (explained above) that form the backbone of the internet. there are 13 instances of these servers known to the public, all kept in underground bunkers which very few people have access to. But those instances each refer to server farms numbering in the hundreds. It is stated that even if 5 times the population of this planet, were to query at once, that there might be a full 1-2 second latency, but really, just consider this for all intensive purposes a negligible link in the chain, that i merely included for the sake of technicality, and to be able to say that this list contains the ONLY places slowdown can occur.

Before we can zero in on the culprit in the case of internet slowness, there are two terms that relate to internet connection speed with regard to your service provider that it would benefit you to know.

  1. Latency – also known as your ping- Is measured in miliseconds (ms), and this is how long it takes for the signal from your computer to reach the server you’re trying to access. So a ping of 100ms means that it takes a tenth of a second for the message to travel between your device, and the server you are trying to access.  High latency isn’t a big issue, or even noticeable really for normal web browsing, video streaming, or file downloading. A high ping is however extremely annoying in online gaming, especially in first person shooters, where a 10th of a second can very easily be life and death.
  2. Bandwidth- This is how much data your connection can send through in a given amount of time. Bandwidth is usually displayed as Mb/s (megabytes per second) it can also been seek in kb/s (kilobytes per second) in slower connections.  This is pretty self explanatory, If for example your internet connection speed is 5Mb/s, it means that your computer can download 5 megabytes per second. theoretically speaking if you have a 50 Megabyte file (about 10 songs worth) it should take 10 seconds to transfer the data.  Bandwidth is the thing that most ISP’s advertise by, because usually it will have the highest impact on a user interested in mainly getting on facebook, watching youtube videos, streaming netflix, playing facebook games.  It should also be noted that most connections will have a separate upload and download speed. It means exactly that, Usually your upload speed is much slower than your download, because 90% of what most people do on the internet is download.

To test the speed of your internet right now should you wish to, this link will open in a new tab and show you how fast your internet actually is www.speedtest.net  my speeds are 34.45Mb/s download, 11.86 Mb/s upload with a ping of 13 ms if you’d like a point of reference. I pay for the second highest plan that my local Comcast service offers, it is extremely fast by my experiences, and is way more connection speed that the average browser/gamer needs, but i regularly have multiple friends over from my GW2 Guild and we all connect and stream anime and paly at the same time.

The two REAL causes of slow internet

  • The Host – Large sites like Youtube, Google, Facebook, and Ebay have TONS of bandwidth, Youtube for example uses an undisclosed number of concurrent google fiber connections clocking in at gigabyte-per-second speeds each, and they need it. 100 million minutes of video are uploaded to them every day, and well over 200 terabytes are downloaded and watched daily as well. Smaller sites however don’t usually have such a robust infrastructure. On smaller sites, large numbers of users trying to access the website can slow traffic to a crawl, and even cause the site not to load at all. It should also be noted that hosts usually cap how fast each user can download from them, so even if you have a 20Mb/s connection, downloads from individual sources rarely exceeds 2-4, though you can have multiple downloads going without slowing each other down.
  • The Client – This is where you come in. Unlike Youtube and the other Internet giants, you surely do not have gigabit internet speeds, ( if you are reading this on a google fiber line in utah please feel my searing envy) depending on availability you might not even megabit internet ( if you’re on dsl please feel my sympathy).  Some ISP’s employ, for lack of a better term, party lining, which means if everyone’s online using the internet heavily, and this can slow things down. You’re not all sharing the same connection or anything nearly that bad, but if you have a large number of neighbors all using alot of bandwidth, you’ll notice your browsing is slowed down, this will not show on a bandwidth speedtest as readily however, because usually the first few megabytes of a file download at full speed.

 

In closing, as i stated before, the internet isn’t a big dump truck, it’s a series of tubes.

bonus points if anyone knows FROM MEMORY who i am quoting there.

i would like to point out however, that while the person i am quoting here is technically correct, i find him humongous incompetent.

 

This concludes the 5 minute “internet’s underbelly” lesson.  I actually enjoyed writing this, maybe i’ll try and do a few more of these for other topics that i think could be explained much simpler.

 

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