Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Gigabit Ethernet Didn’t Make Internet Faster

Reader asks why upgrading to Gigabit Ethernet didn’t improve their Web surfing speed.

Q: I recently purchased a Linksys WRT 310 wireless router that has four Gigabit ports. My Dell desktop is a XPS which I was told was “Top of the Line” has a built-in gigabit port. I even purchased new cables to make sure my network was going to be “gigabit”. I hooked it all up and I don’t see any improvement in my internet. The salesman told me that “gigabit” was the fastest.. so how come I’m not surfing faster? Did I do something wrong or do I need to buy a different brand? Thanx.

A: No, you (most likely) didn’t do anything “wrong”, and you don’t need to buy a different router.

Let me, first of all, cover a few “basics” (see also, Wired or Wireless?*)
Kilo = 1,000 = thousand
Mega = 1,000,000 = million
Giga = 1,000,000,000 = billion

And then let me ask you to look at a simple network diagram.

In this diagram, the Internet is represented by the “cloud” (thus.. “cloud computing”) and I made it appropriately dark and stormy. The Internet connection is represented as the yellow zigzag — this can be a phone line (dial-up, DSL, IDSN) or a coaxial cable.
The blue is your (now Gigabit) Ethernet cabling.

For sake of argument, I made the Internet connection a cable High-speed connection, and I made the download speed a Premium-grade 12 Mbps .. 12 “megabits” per second. (I’d like to have this in RL.. but I have 3 Mbps DSL).
Note that I said “download speed”. Unless you order a special line into your home/office, your “Internet speed” is always your download speed. And, your “upload” speeds are always significantly slower.. as represented by the 486 kilobits per second.

The lines you changed are the blue lines. And so, yes, you have billion-bit lines there (Gigabit). You have multiplied by a thousand the theoretical rate at which computers A, B, and C can “talk” to the router and to each other. You did not change how the modem and the cloud are talking. That is still 12 Megabits down/point 486 (.486) Megabytes up.

Your Internet speed is controlled by two things: one, your service “level” (3 Mbps is more expensive than 1.5, and 6 Mbps is even more expensive, etc.) and two, the technology that can come into your home — dial-up, DSL, ISDN, Satellite, cable, wireless, and fibre-optic.

Because your desktop can “talk” to the router at a higher rate of bits, you might notice a very slight improvement in surfing speed.. but, if you want faster Internet, you have to upgrade either your service level, or/and the method it comes in on (the yellow zigzag) .. say, upgrading from dial-up to cable.

The advantage to Gigabit Ethernet comes in when transferring data across the LAN.. say, from computer A to computer B. Such as if you are backing up the files on A over to B, or “streaming” videos from C to A and B.

The Linksys is a good router (though I read that it runs hot, so you want to keep it in an open, well-ventilated area) and all-Gigabit on your LAN is a “good thing”.
I just think you were expecting the wrong results.

Today’s free link: Curious as to what speed your ISP is really providing? Click here, and pick the “server” location nearest to you. You’ll see both your upload and download speeds. Flash required.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

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March 8, 2009 - Posted by | advice, computers, hardware, Internet, networking, routers, routers and WAPs | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. What a terrific article – textbook perfect!

    I’ll be sure to point my readers here.



    Comment by Bill Mullins | March 9, 2009 | Reply

    • Mr. Mullins,
      Thank you for the kind words. Your readers are always welcome.

      As important as the Internet has become to our lives and businesses, I understand how it is that people are always on a quest for ‘faster’.. and with the rates that ISP’s charge for their Ultra-Super-Deluxe service levels, I understand how people are also looking for that ‘faster’ via other means … which is how they can get rooked by scams such as FastAtLast (which we have both documented), and mung up their connections trying “speedboost” software.
      .. as you know so well.

      I hope the technical facts presented here will clear up some common public misconceptions.


      Comment by techpaul | March 9, 2009 | Reply

  2. […] upgrading to Gigabit Ethernet didn’t improve their Web surfing speed? For the answer, read “Gigabit Ethernet Didn’t Make Internet Faster“, on his site. Tags: Alternative, Bill Mullins, build, computers, connect, digital media […]


    Pingback by Your Electric Wiring Is A Wi-Fi Network Alternative « Bill Mullins’ Weblog - Tech Thoughts | March 9, 2009 | Reply

  3. Great post, and shame on salespeople who promise faster internet to sell gigabit stuff!


    Comment by gabexppro | March 9, 2009 | Reply

    • gabexppro–
      I have no idea if that actually happened here (I suspect it didn’t) but I am certain it does happen.

      Sadly, in many places it has become company policy to sell unnecessary add on accessories and gear, and make exaggerated claims part of the pitch. (Largely this is due to the fact that these extras are the only profit items.. the original item is being sold at or below cost, essentially.)


      Comment by techpaul | March 9, 2009 | Reply

  4. in the name of God, I liked it because it is understandable and cleared well the problem. thanks


    Comment by Abbas | April 19, 2009 | Reply

  5. […] why upgrading to Gigabit Ethernet didn’t improve their Web surfing speed? For the answer, read “Gigabit Ethernet Didn’t Make Internet Faster “, on his […]


    Pingback by Powerline Networkworking – A Wi-Fi Network Alternative « Bill Mullins' Weblog – Tech Thoughts | May 22, 2010 | Reply

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