With the broadband dream still out of reach for many web users, a UK firm has come up with a clever product that aims to give near-broadband bandwidth to users who either can’t get broadband or don’t want to have to pay for it, and even faster internet access to those who do have it.
Adapted from content-sensitive compression technology originally developed for the US military, Onspeed is now a consumer product that claims to boost internet connection and increase email and web browsing speeds.
Whereas faster broadband is generally thought in terms of making the pipe bigger, Onspeed takes the opposite approach of reducing the amount of content going down a pipe of the same size. The company of the same name that makes Onspeed claims it can be used anywhere in the world, is PC and Mac compatible and can also accelerate laptop connections using GPRS mobile phones.
To use the program, you don’t need any special hardware or to change your ISP. The software is simply downloaded from the internet. We tested the software on a PC that was connected to the internet via a 512Mbps DSL connection but whose connection speed varied according to the number of concurrent users.
Installing the program was simple, taking less than four minutes to complete. To test the effectiveness of the product, we first downloaded some content — a 340KB text file and a 414KB image — before Onspeed was installed and then compared it with the download speed after installing the software.
Before installation, the text file took 37.9 seconds to download, which translated to an internet connection speed of 87Kbps. Afterwards, the download took 16.8 seconds, boosting the connection speed to 197Kbps — or nearly two and half times better. The text document was even more impressive, with the download time shrinking from 41.4 seconds to just over eight seconds using Onspeed and the connection speed rising from a sluggish 66Kbps to a nippy 335Kbps — a fivefold improvement.
Onspeed works with all the major browsers including Internet Explorer, Netscape, Mozilla, Opera, Firefox, Avant, Phaseout, MYIE2 and Safari.
Onspeed is not the first program that claims to boost internet speeds but unlike many others it actually does work. One word of caution: everything is relative so don’t expect that by using Onspeed you’ll be able to download multiple megabyte files such as large photos or graphic-rich presentations in seconds — you won’t.
Onspeed is available from www.onspeed.com and costs €39.99 for a one-year licence. A 14-day free trial is also available but, if you go this road, be prepared for a slew of annoying reminder boxes popping up on your screen during the fortnight encouraging you to buy.
By Brian Skelly