Ever Wonder What Happened to All Those Original ISPs?

Editor’s Note: The folks over at ISP Finder (a nice service for those of you looking for ISP options) posted the following article this week that we thought was interesting.

Today there are thousands of ISP’s (Internet Service Providers), but it all started with a handful of dial-up services. Some of the names you will recognize and some of them you will not. All of them played a part in the early beginnings of what is now known as the world wide web.

1) Compuserve: Compuserve is one of the oldest and yet, still well-known online service providers. So what became of Compuserve? In 1980, Compuserve was purchased by H&R Block (that’s correct, the tax preparers). Approximately 20 years later they decided to sell off Compuserve. AOL offered a stock trade which wasn’t accepted but eventually it did end up under their umbrella via being purchased by Worldcom instead. The remaining aspects of Compuserve are now clothed within the Verizon Network.

2) Mindspring: This early ISP was located in Georgia. In the year 2000 Mindspring merged with Earthlink and has remained underneath their wing ever since. In 2008 Earthlink launched its VoIP under the Mindspring name.

Full Article

Your ISP May Not Be Who You Think It Is

By Art Reisman, APconnections CTO (www.netequalizer.com)

Have you ever logged into your wireless laptop at a library or hotel lobby or airport?

Have you ever visited and used WiFi in a small-town coffee shop?

Do you take classes at a local university?

What got us thinking on this subject was the flurry of articles on net neutrality — a hot-button issue in the media these days. With each story, the reporters usually rush to get quotes and statements from all the usual suspects — Verizon, Google, Comcast, Time Warner, etc. It’s as if these providers ARE the Internet. However, in this article, we’ll show there is a significant loose conglomerate of smaller providers that, taken together, create a much larger entity than any of these traditional players.

These smaller organizations buy bulk bandwidth from tier-1 providers such as Level 3 and then redistribute it to their customers. In other words, they are your ISP. To give you a rough idea on just how large this segment is, we have worked up some numbers with conservative estimates.

There are roughly 121,000 libraries in the US. Some are very large with thousands of patrons per day and some are very small with perhaps just a handful of daily visitors. We estimate that half provide some form of wireless Internet service, and of those, they would average 300 unique users per month. That gives us approximately 18 million patrons using the Internet in libraries per year.

There are approximately 15 million students attending higher education institutions, with K-through-12 schools making up another 72 million students. If all the university students, and perhaps half of the K-through-12 students use the Internet at their schools, that gives us another 45 million users.

In 2004, half the hotels in the U.S. had broadband service.  It would be safe to assume that this numbers is over 90 percent in 2010. There are approximately 130,000 hotels listed in the US. With an average occupancy per night of 30 guests per hotel (very conservative), we can easily conclude that 100 million people use the Internet from U.S. hotels over the course of a year.

Lastly there are 10,000 small regional ISPs and cable companies serving smaller and rural customers. These companies average about 1,000 customers, covering another 10 million people.

Yes, some of these users are being double counted as many obviously have multiple sources to the Internet, but the point is, with conservative estimates, we were able to easily estimate 100 million users through these alternate channels, making this segment much larger than any single provider.

Therefore, when discussing the issue of net neutrality, or any regulation or privacy debate concerning the Internet, one should look beyond just the big-name providers. There’s a good chance you’ll find your own online experience regularly extends beyond these high-profile ISPs.

NetEqualizer bandwidth controllers are used in hotels, libraries, schools, WiFi hotspots and businesses around the world and have aided in the Internet experience of over 100 million users since 2003.

Do We Need an Internet User Bill of Rights?

The Computers, Freedom and Privacy conference wraps up today in Washington, D.C., with conference participants having paid significant attention to the on-going debates concerning ISPs, Deep Packet Inspection and net neutrality.  Over the past several days, representatives from the various interested parties have made their cases for and against certain measures pertaining to user privacy. As was expected, demands for the protection of user privacy often came into conflict with ISPs’ advertising strategies and their defense of their overall network quality.

At the center of this debate is the issue of transparency and what ISPs are actually telling customers. In many cases, apparent intrusions into user privacy are qualified by what’s stated in the “fine print” of customer contracts. If these contracts notify customers that their Internet activity and personal information may be used for advertising or other purposes, then it can’t really be said that the customer’s privacy has been invaded. But, the question is, how many users actually read their contracts, and furhtermore, how many people actually understand the fine print? It would be interesting to see what percentage of Internet users could define deep packet inspection. Probably not very many.

This situation is reminiscent of many others involving service contracts, but one particular timely example comes to mind — credit cards. Last month, the Senate passed a credit card “bill of rights,” through which consumers would be both better protected and better informed. Of the latter, President Obama stated, “you should not have to worry that when you sign up for a credit card, you’re signing away all your rights. You shouldn’t need a magnifying glass or a law degree to read the fine print that sometimes doesn’t even appear to be written in English.”

Ultimately, the same should be true for any service contracts, but especially if private information is at stake, as is the case with the Internet privacy debate. Therefore, while it’s a step in the right direction to include potential user privacy issues in service contracts, it should not be done only with the intention of preventing potential legal backlash, but rather with the customer’s true understanding of the agreement in mind.

Editor’s Note: APconnections and NetEqualizer have long been a proponent of both transparency and the protection of user privacy, having devoted several years to developing technology that maintains network quality while respecting the privacy of Internet users.

Tips for testing your internet speed

Five tips to look for when testing your network speed

By Eli Riles

Eli Riles is a retired Insurance Agent from New York. He is a self taught expert in network infrastructure. He spends half the year traveling and visiting remote corners of the earth. The other half of the year you’ll find him in his computer labs testing and tinkering with the latest network technology. For questions or comments please contact him at eliriles@yahoo.com.

In the United States, there are no rules governing truth in bandwidth claims, at least none that we are aware of. Just imagine if every time you went to a gas station, the meters were adjusted to exaggerate the amount of fuel pumped, or the gas contained inert additives. Most consumers count on the fact that state and federal regulators monitor your local gas station to insure that a gallon is a gallon and the fuel is not a mixture of water and rubbing alcohol.

Unfortunately in the Internet service provider world, there is no regulation at this time. So it is up to you the consumer to ensure you are getting what you are paying for.

Network operators deploy an array of strategies to make their service seem faster than others. The most common technique is to simply oversell the amount of bandwidth they can actually handle and hope that not all users are active at one time.

It is up to the consumer, who often has a choice of service providers, Satellite, Cable, Phone company, wireless operator etc, to insure that they are getting what they are paying for.

We at Network Optimization news want to help you level the playing field so here are some tips to use when testing your network speed.

1)Use a speed test site that transfers at least 10 megabits of data with each test.

Some providers will start slowing your speed after a certain amount of data is passed in a short period, the larger the file in the test the better

2)Repeat your tests with at least three different speed test sites.

Different speed test sites use different methods for passing data and results will vary.

3)Try not to use speed test sites recommended by your provider. 

Or at least augment their recommended sites with other sites.

Enough said.

4)Run your tests during busy hours typically between 5 and 9 p.m. in the evening, try running them at different times.

Often times providers have trouble providing their top advertised speeds during busy hours.

5)Make sure you test your speed in both directions. 

The test you use should upload as well as download information.

To find the latest speed test sites on the network, we suggest you use a Google search with the terms:

“test my network speed”

Dig down deep in the list of results for more obscure sites.

Lastly, remember the grass is not always greener.  If you find your speeds are not always up to their advertised rates don’t be alarmed – the industry is not regulated in the US and speeds can vary for a variety of reasons. Your provider is likely doing the best job it can while trying to stay profitable.

Good Luck!

Eli Riles

Created by APconnections, the NetEqualizer is a plug-and-play bandwidth control and WAN/Internet optimization appliance that is flexible and scalable. When the network is congested, NetEqualizer’s unique “behavior shaping” technology dynamically and automatically gives priority to latency sensitive applications, such as VoIP and email. Click here for a full price list.

%d bloggers like this: