The Smallest Pipe

21 March 2004

Among the many factors that determine the speed of a network is the transfer rate of information through the various cables, devices and providers of service for that network. Your glass gets full at the pace of the smallest pipe in the system.

In this country, we have slowly made our way from 2400bps modems over dial-up connections through 9600 on our way to 56Kbps. Then, we began putting DSL lines and cable modems in that carried traffic at 300Kbps and up. We think of cable modem lines carrying as much as 1Mbps to 3Mbps under current configurations.

Once the signal arrives at our local networks, we think of 10Mbps, 100Mbps and 1000Mbps (GigE) as typical LAN speeds. Obviously, all of these are ”theoretical maximums,” but the point is that for most small business and residential users, we’re nowhere near a time when the incoming bandwidth from the outside is as fast as the LAN it’s coming into.

InfoWorld talks about the drive to speed up the LAN in this article. Remember, even though the LAN may have a wireless capability, that link is just another ”pipe” in the overall system.

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