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Finally our village is coming out of the dark ages.Our small exchange is being enabled for broadband in oct 2004.In doing the availability checker by Bt it has come back with a download speed of 2Mbps,is this good,bad poor and by the way what are Mbps ?
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VoG's rough suggestion of 100,000 characters per second relates to his hypothetical 'unitary' 1 million bits per second.
A 2Mbps transfer would therefore be roughly 200,000 characters per second.
But lets be honest here, no ISP is gonna give you, on yer own, personal, 2Mbps link. That would cost megabucks (1 megabuck = 1,000,000 bucks).
You will share your connection bandwidth with other users, and the ISP would most likely put a proportionally higher number of users on your shared connection. This could actually make the 2Mbps connection have a similar data transfer rate as the plain old vanilla 512Kbps connection speed when all those shared users are using the internet at the same time. This is called the "contention ratio".
Think of it like a "bucket brigade", putting out 10 fires. The limiting factor will be the size of the buckets used, i.e. the amount of water that can be passed along the chain. Give them bigger buckets and they can put out those 10 fires quicker. But give them 20 fires to put out, and the results will be about the same.
This is a numbers game, and yes, a 2Mbps capability is very good, very good indeed, and there will be times of the day when you honestly will get a very fast data rate. But play the statistical game, and your 2Mbps link to the ISP could be no better than a 1Mbps, or a 512Kbps link, depending on how many of your shared contentions are using the link.
I recently had a conversation on 'contention ratios' with a very knowledgeable person, and was told the ISP had to, by law, publish what the contention ratio would be for each user. When I find out what mine is I'll post back.
Anyway, some advice... decide what you are going to use the internet for, make a list. If that list doesn't include downloading any substantial size data files, then go for a cheap (say 256Kbps) connection. Use it for a while and see how it works for you. If you can't live without the adrenalin rush of pages being built while you're sipping your tea (or stronger), then get your ISP to upgrade you to a faster connection, they should do this with great joy, at any time in your contract, after all, it's more revenue for them. If you do it the other way round, the ISP may not want to play this game, you may be stuck with your super-fast connection that you don't really need for 12 months, and be "lighter in pocket".
Thanks to all for your help
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