Telecommunications service providers frequently advertise speeds with scientific-sounding phrases and acronyms, but sceptical and informed consumers know there are only a few legitimate ways of clocking the speed of service. There are a lot of technical details involved in understanding how this works, but much of it is far beyond the ability of a layperson to understand. Fortunately, a simplified break down of the fundamentals of data transmission is all any consumer needs to know to be able to call advertisers and service providers out on misleading claims.
The Speed of Light: Nature’s Speed Limit
186,000 miles per hour is the fastest any object travels as far as we know. Anyone who claims they’re moving something faster than that is a genius or a God, and mobile data providers are just as mortal as the rest of us. That said, on a fundamental level all data moves very close to this speed. Radio waves, for example, traverse the Earth’s atmosphere at approximately that speed, allowing for the usual relativistic and gravitational warping. The real limit to how fast data can get from point A to point B is related to the Nyquist-Shannon sampling theorem, but as good as modern technology is we’re nowhere near that yet.
A Traffic Jam of Data: Why Information Moves Slowly
The real reason for the gigabyte-sized traffic jam on your smart phone is…you guessed it: MONEY. In this era of digital communication, any time data moves from one place to another it is likely undergoing some form of compression. Any time a communication system compresses or decompresses data, computers need to crunch numbers, and — as anyone who’s ever had a flat laptop battery or a broken laptop fan can tell you — that requires input electricity and outputs heat from the processors. This problem scales up for telecommunications service providers, and the cost of electricity and cooling is the primary barrier to keeping costs low. When a mobile data or voice provider slows down your service, it’s for no other reason than to save money on their power bill.
How do you know what you’re getting?
Terms like “DSL-speed,” “FiOS,” “3G,” “4G,” etc., do have some specific scientifically-derived meanings, but they are by no means scientific measurements. For example, “2G” service is not precisely half as fast as “4G” service, despite what the numbers would suggest. Those are advertising terms designed to create a certain impression among consumers, nothing more. Some smart consumers know to use one of the many reliable speed tests available online. The overcrowded marketplace is full of misleading technical jargon; the truth is often much more complicated. Stick with providers who have a clear, trustworthy history of providing consumers with real value they can count on.
Written by– Ana Walls a Professional writer, editor and blogger. I really like to spend my full time to write new idea which I think. Consumer can visit a site such as
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