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high speedHigh speed in terms of internet connectivity over long distances could be considered as anything better than ISDN. Speed is measured by bits per second, and when the numbers get big, using K or M to bring them down to size. Common speed inter-company data pipelines are T1, or T3 or faster, and these labels are also used as speed measures.
A good 56k modem on a clean line will manage at most 48k bits per second. This is roughly 1/30th the speed of a T1. A smallish ISP may share a T1 amongst hundreds of simultaneous dialup sessions. An large office may share a T1 for internet and email traffic amongst 500 employees or more. On the other hand, DSL speeds are commercially available that range from 1/12th of a T1 to 5x a T1. This is truly high speed.
Related topics to consider along with pure theoretical speed are also ping time/latency of the connection, sustainable transfer rates versus burst rates, as well as monthly traffic limits, and packet drops. In addition, for windows machines, registry settings can have a big effect on throughput.
Comparing DSL to 56k modems, it is obvious the jump in performance is huge.
latencyLatency is also referred to as ping time, it is the time it will take a single packet of data to travel to a remote server, and return. Latency improves in proportion to line speed, (and faster speeds provide more bandwidth). Although, with a sufficiently small packet, the ping time is more a function of the number of hops between you and the remote server, congestion on the way, and so on. On a modem, ping time to your first hop (usually your ISP modem rack), is no better than 100ms (1/10th of a second). With larger packets, say, 2K, this could be around 1000ms (1 second) or more. Players of any internet interactive games know that latency is a key factor in deciding which game to join and how well it will play.
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