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The Speed of the Internet

There are many factors that impose speed limits on information sent over the Internet. When you surf the Internet you want things to appear before you right now. Broadband Internet access helps a great deal, but sometimes things still do not move as fast as we might like.

The Internet is a huge and very complex system. When you open a browser window and click on a favorite or type something into a search box or address bar you expect the expected page to appear instantly. What are the possible road blocks to your success?

Your connection speed is one important factor. A slow connection will almost always take longer to display a page than a fast connection. The information that you want may be half way around the world. That you have it at your fingertips is a marvel. There are several components to the delivery of the information and any one of them can slow things down.

There are times when traffic is heavier on the Internet. Heavy traffic can slow down the speeds on the Internet just like rush hour does on the freeway. There is only so much capacity available to move the requested data. Data moves at near light speed, but there is still a finite time required to move the data.

There are servers and routers along the way between you and the page you wish to see. Each of these intersections require some processing time. When these nodes are near capacity they will queue the traffic and pass it in its assigned time. The connection speed of the server may, in some instances, be limited just as your connection speed is limited.

Another factor will be the size of the files that you request. Not all pages are truly optimized for the best transmission of the data. Some files are much larger than they need to be.

Typically a request from your browser goes to your ISP. A router at your ISP routes the request out into the Internet usually to a hub. The hub would then choose the best route for the information request sending the request to another hub near where the information is located. That hub would then send the request on to the server that houses the data. The data is served and sent back along the reverse of the route to the requesting computer.

While data moves at near light speed there are the various nodes along the way and the limits imposed to allow good service to all customers. If there is too much traffic there will be times when your request is slowed along the way. The operation at every leg of the journey must be fast and smooth to maintain your user experience.

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