Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Rogers SpeedBoost Doesn't Pass The Smell Test

SpeedBoost™ is a new technology that detects when there's available bandwidth and automatically increases speed when you need it most; turbocharging your streaming video, online gaming and downloading activities!

SpeedBoost technology is available with the Rogers network and is included with your Hi-Speed Internet service at no additional charge."

There's something fishy about this claim. In a properly designed network, data being transmitted will always expand to fill the capacity of the circuit.* If bandwidth is "available" it will be used. Nothing need be done by a network provider to enable it, it is inherent to the technology. It's like a car company claiming they will provide a mileage boost if there is still gas in your tank.

There are compression or acceleration technologies available for an ISP to put in that will "turbocharge" or "boost" your connection speed. But they have nothing to do with available bandwidth.** They could be using these products, and are just marketing it incorrectly to make it sound good.

So this marketing gimmick does not work for me. It doesn't make sense, and the worst part is, you'd never know if it was working or not. Even if you were monitoring your connection, the best you would see is your circuit 100% utilized, which means you're getting what you paid for and the network is working like it should.

Magic. Rogers is trying to sell you magic. Question is, do you buy it?

Update: Chris tells me it is noticeable on Internet Speedtest sites. Which would indicate some form of compression is being used, which is of benefit to the end user. If true, Rogers needs to come clean and clarify what exactly this service is.

*Note: Actually, it will expand to fill the smallest link. If you are on a 5 Mb circuit and the source you are accessing is on a 10 Mb circuit, your peak bandwidth can only be 5 Mb. Which means you are getting what you pay for.

**Note: Well every network technology that transmits data requires bandwidth to be available. If the circuit is 100% utilized nothing else will go through. But again, this is inherent to networks, stating it is stating the obvious.


Jake said...

It is a marketing gimmick the way they describe it, but does not involve compression. What's happening with SpeedBoost (called PowerBoost in the States) is that for the first ten seconds of a connection to a new server, the modem is allowed to bump its usual assigned DOCSIS speed profile to a higher tier. After ten seconds the connection returns to the normal tier (what you're paying for.)

This is why it affects speedtest sites; for the first ten seconds you're actually downloading data at 1.5-2x your rated connection speed.

The effect is fairly noticeable if you're pulling files from newsgroups or another high bandwidth source. It does help with YouTube videos as the first part of a YouTube transfer is at full capacity; then Google chokes the connection on their end to match the video bitrate.

Catelli said...

Really? That's cool, but geez what an awkward solution.

It genuinely benefits the user, so I won't argue the utility of it. But what a gimmicky way to give people better access speeds but only for short periods of time.


Anonymous said...

" In a properly designed network, data being transmitted will always expand to fill the capacity of the circuit.* "

You are acting like your broadband connection acts like your home network. Your overall connection is capable of large amounts of bandwidth. On your home network, yes you take advantage of all that is availible. Your cable connection is artificially throttled to that of your service plan. The speedboost turns off that throttle. In otherwords your connection is capable of say 30 Mbps (or perhaps more) but you're only paying for 5 mbps so your downloads only go that fast. With speed boost all of your downloads start at the higher rate (ie 30 Mbps) but then drop down to what you are subscribing to (ie 5 mbps). It's like being allowed to travel 200 km/h for 30 seconds at a time down the highway and then having to return to the speed limit.

This does speed up downloads for smaller files. But as the file size gets bigger it has less of an effect.