Busy Signal' survey rates national ISPs
February 19, 1998
Web posted at: 6:59 p.m. EST (2359 GMT)
By CNN Interactive Producer Steve Baxter
(CNN) -- Are you tired of getting busy signals when you dial up your
Internet service provider? If so, maybe it's time for a change.
Boardwatch Magazine (www.boardwatch.com), a monthly Internet trade
publication, studied the access performance of national Net providers
and has announced the winners.
IBM Internet Connection Services (www.ibm.net) came out on top with
the highest percentage of connections and fastest modem speeds.
The study, conducted January 1-February 1, 1998, covered
90 national dialup service providers. Over 145,000 calls were made to
450 points of presence across the United States during the 5 p.m. to
9 p.m. prime usage period for dialup Internet service. The study
was designed to calculate call completion rates and busy signals for
the service providers, along with average modem connection speeds.
with Internet Service Providers is growing and is beginning to
dramatically increase churn rates as dialup customers look for
alternatives," says Boardwatch Editor Jack Rickard, Virtually all of it
centers around one topic --- busy
signals. We wanted to see if it was really a problem. It is."
Call completion rates ranged from a low of 63.66 percent at Internet
to a high of 97.85 percent at GroundZer0 Internet. At the low end, this
means a little more than one out of every three calls is greeted with
a busy signal. At the high end, slightly over two calls per hundred get
a busy signal.
The other surprise in the test data centered on average modem
speeds. The test used two 56Kbps modems. One based on Rockwell's
K56flex technology and the other on 3COM's X2 technology. "We have
assumed for nearly a year that these were two essentially peer
technologies," Rickard said. "They are not."
The average connect speed across all 450 ports was 32,568 bits per
But for K56flex ports the average was 30,849 bps compared to an
bps for x2 ports. "Basically, the x2 ISPs had a huge advantage with
to connect speed," Rickard said.
The final ranking of the Top Ten Dialup ISPs used a combination of
completion rate and average connect speed, weighted somewhat heavily
of call completion rate as the important factor.
BOARDWATCH TOP 10 DIALUP INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS
|ISP ||RANK ||ATTEMPTS ||CONNECTS ||COMP ||MODEM SPEED
|IBM Internet |
|1 ||1886 ||1802 ||95.55% || 45780
|TEK Interactive Group ||2 ||1765 ||1606 ||90.99% ||45350
|MCI ||3 ||1881 ||1714 ||91.12% ||44860
|Micronet ||4 ||1669 ||1457 ||87.30% ||45590
|MindSpring ||5 ||1585 ||1468 ||92.62% ||40080
|GroundZer0 ||6 ||1351 ||1322 ||97.85% ||34830
|Fnet Corp ||7 ||1539 ||1478 ||96.04% ||34630
|TDSNET ||8 ||1380 ||1313 ||95.14% ||35220
|Log On America ||9 ||1383 ||1286 ||92.99% ||35620
|10 ||1902 ||1822 ||95.79% ||32770
America Online, widely perceived as the busy signal bad-boy of the
Internet over the past few years, did rank in the bottom third of the
90 services tested at position number 62 with an average call
completion rate of 87.1 percent -- about two points below the 89.06 percent
of the test. But they were by no means the worst in the pile.
IBM Internet Connection Services was selected as best performing
Dialup Provider based on a
call completion rate of 95.55 percent and an average x2 connect speed of
45780 bps across 1,802 completed calls to different IBM ports across
the country. "They don't fail, and they don't slow down," said
Rickard, describing IBM. "We barely considered them a dial-up provider
before this study. We do now."
Full details of the survey will be released at the Internet Service
Provider convention (ISPCON) in March. Results will also be published
in Boardwatch's next quarterly directory of over 4,600 Internet Service
Providers in the United States and Canada.