Connection Speeds

Notes: Kbps = Kilobits per second; Mbps = Megabits per second; Gbps = Gigabits per second
Continue reading below for further details about many of the connections.
Type of Connection Speed Notes
Regular Modems Self Explanatory, 14.4 / 28.8 / 56 Kbps Actual speed depends on phone line
ISDN 64 or 128 Kbps Single or Dual Channel
xDSL 384 Kbps to 8 Mbps* *Many restrictions apply to speed; see below
Cable 384 Kbps to 10 Mbps* *Many restrictions apply to speed; see below
T1 / DS-1 1.544 Mbps Composed of 24 channels @ 64 Kbps + framing
T1c / DS-1c 3.152 Mbps Not commonly seen
T2 / DS-2 6.312 Mbps Not commonly seen
T3 / DS-3 44.736 Mbps None
T4 / DS-4 274.760 Mbps Not commonly seen
E1 2.048 Mbps Available in Europe & Japan
E3 34.368 Mbps Available in Europe & Japan
OC-1 51.840 Mbps Fiber Optic
OC-3 / OC-3c 155.520 Mbps Fiber Optic
OC-12 / OC-12c 622.080 Mbps Fiber Optic
OC-48 / OC-48c 2.488320 Gbps Fiber Optic

Regular Modems

Regular modems that connect to your computer by a serial port or USB port, are nice products for the average internet user. With the popular 56 Kbps speed, loading high quality web pages and downloading large files are made quick. These modems have easy installation and are simple to use. You don't need any special hardware or special connection line, but just a regular telephone line. The price is also nice and people can afford to buy them up.


ISDN connections are different from others. It is a digital connection, so you have a better chance of getting quality connections. You can connect these to your computer but you need special wiring and hardware. The 64 Kbps single channel type is not much different from a 56 Kbps modem. A difference is the higher price for an ISDN. The dual channel 128 Kbps type can cost two to three times the amount of a modem connection. Although it does offer double the speed, you may find other alternatives for quick internet connections. Since it is digital, you need to buy new hardware which will cost a few hundred dollars. ISDN is available from your ISP or telco. It may soon be replaced by faster and cheaper connections.


This type of connection can be quite fast but you have to have a close range. There are various different types of xDSL, such as ADSL, SDSL, VDSL, etc. You could receive 8 Mbps downstream and up to 1 Mbps upstream. This is if the setup is asymmetrical. If the setup is bidirectional, you could send and receive at the same speed. xDSL connections usually start at 384Kbps and can be commonly seen at 640Kbps. Another factor affecting the fast downstream is the distance or range. You need to be within 18,000 ft. However, another plus is that ADSL can be used over ordinary telephone wires. Additionally, you can talk or fax, and use the same line to connect to the internet. There should be no interference or download changes, you can remain at the same speed when you weren't talking or faxing. ADSL is becoming more popular, but may not be available. For more information, check with your telephone company. They can also inform you on what kind of specific xDSL is available, and what type of speeds to expect both upstream and downstream.


This connection is similar to ADSL. However, the speeds are much greater both ways. The disadvantage is that you have to be in an even closer range than ADSL. VDSL can offer extremely fast speeds like 13 to 55 Mbps downstream and 1.6 to 2.3 Mbps upstream. The range is much closer, 4500 to 1000 ft away. This service is not yet available to many areas.


Cable connections are becoming more popular today. However, not everyone can have the ability to use them. Your cable TV provider has to have the ability to transmit data through your cable TV wire. Cable connections do require some hardware though. You need an ethernet card in your computer. You will also have to lease or buy a cable modem. If you buy it, expect to pay about $250. You could lease it for a few extra dollars a month. Then, you simply plug in your cable wire into the cable modem, and the cable modem into your ethernet card. Finally you can set up the configurations. Downstream speeds reported by cable companies are usually around 512 Kbps, while some could be 384Kbps or 640Kbps. Those are just average speeds, and speeds in your area could differ by quite a bit. Although cable connections are not as sensitive to range variables, you can reach greater speeds if you reside close to the cable station. If you connect to a server that can handle you speed, you could reach up to one to three Mbps. Some select cable companies are offering a 10 Mbps cable connection. This will probably cost a bit more, but allows for even greater speeds. Upstream speeds are usually much slower. It depends on how your cable company has the set up. If the cable station has a symmetrical network, you could have the ability to upload as fast as you download. However, the cable company will probably cap the upstream rate, which could be around 128Kbps. With a cable connection, you are really connected all the time, but you just don't use it all the time. This is why you can use the connection to host web sites. Although you will need to check with your cable company's usage terms to see if they allow that. Years ago, hosting on a cable connection was a security problem, but not really anymore. The price to get a cable connection varies. It depends on if you need to rent any hardware or extra items, such as the cable modem. You will probably have to pay for cable TV and on top of that the internet service. This is around $40 per month. If you have an ISP and a 56 Kbps modem, you probably pay around $15 per month. Plus you have to have a phone line. Another drawback is if you use your phone line for other things such as faxing. With a cable connection, you can not fax, it is not a phone line. It just connects you to the internet. So if you have the option of getting this service, you have to decide if it is worth it. Many rates vary, so you have to do some research.

T1 / DS-1

T1s are a good way to host larger servers or supply a connection for multiple users. The maximum rate for a T1 is 1.544 Mbps. You will however find that a month's fee will be much higher than other connections. Many offices will use these connections to supply the internet. If the connection is supplied over a four wire copper cable, it's called a T1. If it's a fiber optic cable, it's called a DS-1.

T3 / DS-3

T3s are identical to T1s. But a T3 can handle about 45 Mbps. That is much more than many other connections combined. These are used to host very large servers and even used at many ISP's. An office may use this and connect a hundred users to it. The price for this service can be exponentially the amount of a regular modem connection. If the connection is supplied over a coaxial cable, it's called a T3. If it's a fiber optic cable, it's called a DS-3. For more information, check with your ISP to see if you can lease a T3 or a DS-3.


Once connections reach this level of speed, they can be used for backbones for large hosts or ISPs. This connection is also fiber optic. You won't be able to lease this type, or even a fraction of this type, as easy as you would a T1 or T3.

OC-3 / OC-3c

This connection may be used as a backbone for a massive host or router. With reaching speeds of 155 Mbps, many user's internet connections can be sent at the same time. This connection is also fiber optic, making it more advanced. The OC-3 is just 3 OC-1 connections put together. However, the OC-3c is actually one pipe which is concatenated, which is what the c stands for. This is one thing you will not be able to ask your ISP for. Many ISP's will not even have this as their backbone.

OC-12 / OC-12c

This type has an enormous amount of bandwidth to supply. It can be used for national backbones which go between routers and hubs.

OC-48 / OC-48c

An OC-48c is truly in a class of it's own. With about 2.5 Gbps bandwidth, you should see how easily and suitable of a choice this is for many of the national backbones. Many of the large connections described about can connect to this type, and provide a share of the bandwidth to many people.


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