Five Questions You Should Ask about Internet Speed and Bursting


Art Reisman

By Art Reisman, CTO, APconnections

Editor’s Note: With consumers up in arms about net neutrality, they should also be asking their ISPs for some truth in advertising when it comes their Internet speed and the specifics concerning how and when bursting occurs.

With all the talk of net neutrality and deep packet inspection, we thought it was time to revisit the illusion created by providers offering “burstable” Internet speeds.

What is a burstable Internet speed? Well, it’s a common trick used by providers that lets you temporarily enjoy their highest speed, but then after a certain time period or after a bandwidth quota is reached, you automatically get knocked down  to a slower speed.

Generally, your provider leaves the specifics of when this bursting takes place out of their standard literature.  Instead, they will likely cite a best-case number when marketing their service. When bursting is mentioned, if ever, it is likely done in the fine print.

But, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways to hold your ISP accountable. Below are some questions that you should ask your Internet service provider to find out exactly what you are paying for.

  1. Is the speed advertised in their marketing literature available all the time, or is that a best-case speed (or burst) that you may or may not achieve on a regular basis?
  2. Do you get charged, penalized, or black-listed for using this higher speed?
  3. How long can you burst for? For example, is a burst one second, 10 seconds, or 10 hours at a time?
  4. Can you get exactly how this bursting feature works in writing?
  5. Can you trade in the bursting feature for a guaranteed sustained top speed that is always on and not considered bursting?

While we can’t promise that these questions will always elicit an upfront, honest and informed response, they’re a step in the right direction. For a more in depth article on the subject and business behind “bursting” you should also  check out Bursting Is for the Birds.

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.

NetEqualizer Evaluation Policy


Our official policy for customers requesting evaluation units is to require payment upfront.  However, we do honor a no-questions-asked  30-day return policy.

As you can imagine, we get a constant stream of requests for evaluation units. Obviously we’d love to provide everybody who asks with a demo unit. After all, the other brand name packet shapers will throw them at you. Especially if you are coming from an account they want to win over.

So, you may be wondering why we don’t do the same…

Some background:

APconnections  sells quite a few units under $3000 dollars. To put this in perspective, last year a CEO from a larger competitor selling similar equipment admitted that $4000 is their break-even point.

So, how do we offer units starting at $2000 and still turn a profit?

A big part of our model to is make sure that we do not drill dry wells. Dry well is industry speak for pursuing business that will never materialize. Yes, we love chatting with people, but in order to pay our engineers and stay in business, we must limit money spent supporting customers that are just “looking”.  The easiest way to do this is to enforce our evaluation policy.

Serious customers that are ready to buy something but need to see it work in their network usually have no problem with purchasing up front.  Some, but not all, customers that are not agreeable to purchasing up front may have cash flow problems of their own. In an economy where banks do not know how to qualify loans, we don’t want  to try to calculate this risk.

The result of our conservative policy translates to much lower prices , and to date nobody is arguing with that.

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