An Internet Service Provider (ISP) operates by purchasing and reselling Internet connectivity from major suppliers, such as Verizon or AT&T, and reselling segments to business or residential customers, or even to smaller ISP’s. The amount of bandwidth available to customers depends on the type and quality of the connection, and the amount of bandwidth allowed to each customer.

Cheap Dial-Up ISP

The cheap dial-up ISP offers an Internet connection that operates over existing phone lines. A modem (modulator/demodulator) sends data using the portion of the phone line used for voice traffic. This not only limits the speed of the connection, but also prevents the user from using the phone line for fax transmissions or telephone calls while connected to the Internet.

A typical 56K dial-up modem cannot download large files efficiently, but “high-speed dial-up” connections improve speeds through the use of cached files, file compression, and acceleration servers.

DSL Providers Offer Better Speeds

A DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) provider can offer much faster speeds than a dial-up connection. DSL runs over a different portion of the phone line than dial-up, so it does not impact the use of the phone line. The modems used for DSL Internet connections are limited by the speed assignment given by the DSL providers, which depends on the speed package purchased by the customer. Limitations on DSL connections include:

  • Overuse by ISPs- Each customer is assigned to a backbone connection, and given a certain amount of bandwidth to use, based on the user’s contract. In some cases, too many customers are assigned to a backbone, which reduces the amount of bandwidth available for all customers.
  • Phone line problems- Phone lines, found in older houses or developments, are more likely to have poor speed ratings. In addition a home or business that is too far from the ISP’s central office will not get the best speeds, regardless of the speed package purchased.

Cable Internet Access Companies

Cable Internet access companies provide high speed connections without concern for phone lines or distance issues. The speeds available to cable customers are only limited to the packages purchased from the cable company, but can be affected by congestion on the network, or overuse of backbone bandwidth, just like DSL ISP’s can.

Connection Speed Evaluation with Fuzzy Logic

In an article, Saman Amin and Jafar Razmi postulate a fuzzy logic program to evaluate Internet Service Providers. Due to the many differences between the varieties of Internet connection, and the individual ISP’s, this type of program would be extremely valuable to consumers.

The use of fuzzy logic to compare various criteria improves the ability of a consumer to choose the best Internet connection. By testing the speeds of each ISP, and comparing speed packages with actual speed results and pricing, the program can provide the most accurate information to consumers.