In a perfect world, the words people write and speak would be nothing but the truth. We obviously don’t live in a perfect world, but that doesn’t mean that everything spoken or written that turns out untrue was necessarily a lie.
Take the world of the internet and internet service providers as an example. Theirs is a world with many different facets, each with its own intricate sets of connections and relationships with myriad customers and companies. For the preciseness required to communicate electronically, by way of electrons, there are actually many aspects that are quite imprecise. Connections speeds are a really great model for the inexact operating within the exact.
The various speeds of telecommunications devices, as defined by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), are optimal speeds. They’re true numbers and they’re precise, but this is because there’s no additional relationships required when test the real and true speed of any given device. When we leave the R&D labs and get into the real world, this is when it all starts to break down.
In between the wireless connection on your laptop computer and your internet service provider is a minefield of variables. Miles of cables, hundreds of various pieces of hardware, and hundreds of thousands of lines of computer programming all take their toll on the true connection speed, and that’s when everything is working as it should.
When a cable is severed, a modem or repeater goes bad, or when lightning takes out a transmitter, it has a negative impact on the speed of your internet connection. This can be manifested as an almost imperceptible slowdown to a full-blown outage of services.
In addition to problems that can arise at all the various physical layers of the internet, the sheer amount of data being transferred is inconceivable. The number of bits of data being transferred at any given moment is such fantastic number as to actually have no meaning to any of us. The think that traffic jams and bottlenecks don’t occur on the Information Superhighway would be an error.
When your ISP advertises a high-speed broadband internet connection at a certain speed, say 15Mbps, they’re careful to note that “download speed as fast as 15Mbps.” It’s the “as fast as,” or “up to” that is indicates to you that you may experience speeds slower than that for any number of reasons, often out of their control.
On a technical note, the advertised speeds aren’t guesses and they’re not unattainable. In fact, millions of computers users are regularly connected to the internet at or very near advertised speeds, because certain hardware along the connection is designed to operate at advertised speeds. This is how your ISP is able to offer a wide range of speed options from which you can choose.
On final thought, because of the sheer number of variables, and the sheer number over which your ISP has no control, it’s an unreasonable expectation to expect them to place a guarantee on the connection speed. In terms of advertised numbers – 1Mbps, 3Mbps, 7Mbps, 15Mbps, 40Mbps, 100Mbps, or 150Mbps – the overall expectation of the speed of your connection should be clear to you. It would be unreasonable to expect a 3Mbps connection to perform to the same level as the 100Mbps connection. Remember, most users operate at or near advertised rates.
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