Overclocking 56k Internet Connections

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One possible service to try out – Joe

SUMMARY: One possible way to live with a 56k connection?

I did an article on Internet Connections earlier; one of the issues that came out was the lack of high speed connections for some users – either because they are in rural areas or in countries that do not have the communications infrastructure Americans take for granted.

In the course or reading LOTS of reader emails, a couple of possible solutions popped out:

Modem Teaming has been around for a while, but it is expensive – two modems, two phone lines etc. I believe it is not widely known or used.

There are a number of programs that optimize Windows settings – these are well known and readily available as freeware programs.

There appears to be a additional suite of programs and services that go beyond this – they optimize web downloads through a variety of compression and other techniques such that a 56k line works more like a 128 or 256k line. In essence, the pipe remains the same size, but the “quality” of what’s sent is enhanced.

It should be noted that these schemes do not transmit more “raw data” – don’t expect to download large data files faster.

One such service that contacted me was Artera Turbo; because they are located only 20 minutes from where I live, I called and they were nice enough to allow me to spend a couple of hours at their office. Mike Parrella, the CEO of NCT Group (the parent co.) and John Lash, VP Strategic Development, were my hosts.

I had the opportunity to view the service – they have a setup with two PCs connecting the internet at 56k, one with the service and one without.

They cleared caches on both machines and proceeded to download from various sites, including Overclockers.com. I did see download speeds 2 to 4 times faster in this side-by-side demo. One exception was the Forum – there was no noticeable change here.

One thing I noticed was that with Artera Turbo, images did not paint – it would come up faster, but it “popped” up after a second or two.

Basically the service works by standing between the user and the ISP. When a request is made for a download, Artera’s service center receives the data from the site at high speed and then optimizes the data through a variety of techniques, such as caching, compression etc.. NCT Group has six patents pending involving these technologies.

Their claim is that Artera Turbo’s enhanced 56k is consistently as fast as 256k SDSL. Further, the number of bytes that are sent and received are reduced by over 65% – heady claims indeed!

There are no changes required to use the service other than downloading the software. They are offering a free 14 day trial so users can give it a trial run, hoping that people will pay for it after that. The service costs $9.99/month.

Currently the service is US based, but there are plans to offer it in Europe.

I would very much appreciate it, if you try this service, to jot down your experiences with it and email me after the trial period. Artera is not an advertiser – I’m just curious to see if this thing is all it’s cracked up to be and worth $10/month.

Download Artera Turbo

NOTE: Right now AOL is not supported – this is supposed to change.
{mospagebreak}

Email Joe

A number of readers gave Artera Turbo a try out with decidedly mixed results (many, many thanks to all who tried this out):

Silver Hamel

Looked like a possible, so I went ahead and downloaded it and gave it a
shot. Results using Juno on 98SE were as follows:

Refuses to accept
either Juno password or the supplied one. Speeds as tested went from
5700-6000 cps to 1300-5000 (tops) cps. Normal with it running is 3800.
This is way below tweaked settings on windows.

Called tech support and
they were busy and would return call. Have e-mailed due to lack of
response as of this e-mail to you. Of special interest is the lack of an
uninstall program – kind of makes it a pain in the butt to go looking
around Windows for all the pieces to delete and then tweak Windows again.

Actual connection speeds of course have not changed – 50,666 with or
without Artera. Will keep you updated as to response from Artera tech
support and results.

Interestingly, the speed bar on the two occasions in which I did get it to
register showed 3.9 kps along with extremely slow speeds. We are talking
really, really slow speeds. Overclockers.com was unusable at the
speeds which it ran.

On all other occasions, it would show one user
active with connection and all but unbearably slow speeds. We are talking
1200 baud days again. I will not post anything in the forums until tech
support has had time to respond in order to be fair to them.

E-mail address in help (betasupport@arteragroup.com) is undeliverable. I
would conclude that support on the trial version is less than
satisfactory with an invalid e-mail address. Outfit is beginning to look
a little shady.

Jeff

“Their claim is that Artera Turbo’s enhanced 56k is consistently as fast as
256k SDSL. Further, the number of bytes that are sent and received are
reduced by over 65% – heady claims indeed! ”

This is fairly standard when you use the HTTP 1.1 standard for compression.
It’s a win-win situation– the outgoing data is compressed via GZIP before
being sent to the browser (which then decompresses it prior to display) at a
miniscule cpu overhead cost.

Here’s a link showing test results.

Dave

I read your article on overclockers’ about the Artera Turbo. While I’ve never used their particular system, from what I’ve read (in your article and on their website) it appears that they’re doing should be feasible.

I make this claim from some academic research experience. Several years ago,
I worked on a team that did something similar Artera Turbo. If you’re
interested the original academic papers, I can provide you with links.

(One application of this work was to enable graphical web browser on the Palm Pilot. That was pretty cool back in 1997.)

One potential weakness in Artera’s system is the “network proximity”
their customer (with the 56k connection) to their servers that are providing
this service.

If they have some custom client software on the PC, they may be able to
reduce some of the issues. However, if there are any network bottlenecks
between the dialup user and Artera’s system, then the benefits of Artera
Turbo could be diminished / hard to realize.

As usual, the details are in the implementation.

ap

I’ve been using Artera 2 and have had good results so far. They have a download doubler feature that same to quicken the time it takes me to download. Overall, it’s a keeper.

Don

I’m an ArteraTurbo subscriber and like the service tremendously.

It was very easy to download and install. ArteraTurbo delivers very fast speeds while surfing the Internet. In fact, I operate on a T-3 line at work and I can hardly tell any difference between the two machines, except for when downloading files to a floppy or directly to my hard-drive.

FYI, I frequently go to http://www.toast.net and download their “Free All Files” type download just to check the speed. I vary between 304 and 359 kbps. The company recommended this site as it combines all the various types of files you will encounter into one test. Then, I’ve recorded speeds of better than 2,650 kbps on the Verizon Speed Test Site, which I have to tell you I’m a bit skeptical of.

However, I hit that site at work and I test out at about 1,850 kbps, and here at the house I almost always record a speed in excess of 1,400 kbps. So, I suppose there is some validity to the comparison, but I’m not sure just how to make that comparison.

I kept fiddling with Artera after my initial download and messed up the settings, which caused me to have to contact the company’s tech support center for assistance. I was equally impressed by the support they provided…prompt, efficient, and courteous.

ArteraTurbo should be a hit with those folks using a dial-up modem and who are looking to speed up their “surfing experience”. I didn’t know how slow my home machine was until I tried it without ArteraTurbo after using it for the trial period. I’m hooked!

Mike

I downloaded Artera, but never was able to get it to work on my machine
even after three days of “Tweaking” various system parameters. I then
downloaded Propel and had no trouble setting it up on the machine. Very
user friendly and appears to speed up web browsing by a factor of 1.5.
Not sure if it is worth $50.00 per year yet, but half the price of Artera
though.

Tad “Treker” Anderson

With all this talk about teaming modems, I just wanted to remind you a year from this date exactly I wrote an article covering using dual modems and dual phone lines HERE. I’m still using this setup today and I love it – cheaper than ISDN, even a lil’ faster, and all I can get in my area!

Mike3597

I didn’t need 14 days to figure out if this service was worth $9.95/mo. After one day of playing around on the net & some bandwidth testing I wouldn’t pay $.02 for it. Some of the pages actually loaded slower than usual. It does not come with an uninstaller either.

Matt aka Baldy18

I’ve been messing with the Artera Turbo program for a few hours now and I’d
like to share some of my observations with you.

I have a 128k ISDN connection and I connect all computers of my small LAN
through one router. The computer I chose to install Atrera on was my laptop
so that I could move it around and compair speeds with my other computers.
Artera did a wonderful job of recognising my existing setup.

However, when I
would try to use it to connect or disconnect one of my channels, it would act
like it was disconnecting or dialing but in all actuality it did nothing.
In fact it would have to be closed and opened again after I “disconnected” a
line to get it to reconnect.

So I sat my laptop next to my desktop and compared the speeds of them by
clicking on my favorite links that I access regularly from both computers to
see which would load them first. To my surprise, the desktop won every
single time. The laptop using Atrera Turbo came close but never claimed a
single victory. Often it would lag behind at first and then catch up
quickly but never quite overcome the initial defecit.

Next I repeated the same test with the same links. This time the laptop won
everytime. So to me it looks like caching is the only advantage it has
provided so far and with 100 MB of space reserved for it and no speed boost
for “new” sites, I wasn’t sure if it was worth it.

So I decided to download a file. My file of choice was the D2OL
installation file from Sengent.com which weighs in at 10.4 MB. I chose this
file because earlier the same night I downloaded it with my desktop, so I
knew that my desktop averaged around 10 KB/s when downloading this file. I
saw minimal improvement as my laptop averaged only 12 KB/s. I was actually
mildly dissapointed with both platforms, since on a normal day using IRC to
download, I routinely average 15 KB/s.

One last observation: I noticed that the quality of some images was not
as good while using Artera Turbo. The MSN logo at the top of ESPN.com and
also Overclockers.com’s own logo at the top of the site were both “speckled”
with what looked like missing pixels.

Overall I would say that I’m not real satisfied so far, but I’ll leave it
going through the end of the trial period and see if my feelings change.

[ed note: follow-up email] OK so I woke up today and tried to bring up my usual websites and nada – not
a darn thing came up. My email worked fine but I couldn’t bring up a single
site with my web browser.

So I shut off Artera Turbo and tried again and
this time it worked fine. Looks like you have to start it everytime you
want to use the internet and shut it down everytime you are done. It has to
establish a connection to Artera’s servers or something everytime you want to
use it. Definitely not a good solution for an always-on connection or an
almost always-on connection like my pinned up ISDN connection.

Dan

I am a frequent reader of Overclockers.com and have to commend you on the site. I find it very informative. I have recently tried Artera Turbo and have to say that it sucks!!!!! I am stuck with a 56k connection due to fact that DSL and Cable are not available in my area and I just don’t believe in paying $600 dollars for equipment and installation for a satellite connection. Anyways on to my story.

I downloaded Atera Turbo this evening and was very disappointed in the claims that they make. DSL speed my ass! It was a little faster but at the cost of images to be compressed to the point that some where so blurry that you couldn’t even see what you were looking at. Going to Metacrawler and clicking on a link after doing a search netted no web page, just a blank screen. Spending $10.00/month for an eye blink faster connection just doesn’t seem worth it. Downloads of files were no faster either.

Now here comes the part were I was steamed:

After messing with it for an hour, I wasn’t impressed. So I decided to uninstall it. What a headache that was! The uninstall went smoothly, it was after was what the disaster was.

After uninstalling the program, you have to restart your computer. Then I went to get back online and when I did, I couldn’t get any web pages to come up. It kept coming up “page can not be displayed”. So I figured that during the installation it must of taken some of internet explorers system files with it. I went to add/remove programs and chose to fix IE and once again had to reboot my system.

After going through the reboot process, I jumped back online and got the same screen – “can not display page”. Now I am getting aggravated.

I go back and remove IE 6.0 and have to reboot again. Get back up and try 5.0 or whatever comes standard with Win2k – still no luck. So I fire up my laptop jump on the internet and download IE 6.0 (which is a 56k connection) shoot it across the network and install it. Have to reboot AGAIN!!! This is becoming a pain.

Finally get back up and BAM. Finally get a page to be displayed… but it takes forever. It is now bringing up pages like I am on a 14.4k modem. Furiously, I download some free dialup optimizer (they never worked for me until now) from my laptop, shoot that across the network and install it.

After spending a little over an hour getting everything back to normal and looking back at it, I would have to say there is nothing worth paying for, or spending time trying to optimize a 56k connection. It is what it is. Please let other people know that it is not worth the time or the headache to try this crap. I guess I will just have to wait for DSL or Cable to come along, or plop down $600 bucks for satellite.

Brendan

I tried the Artera 14 day free trial and I am very happy with the product. It was very easy to download and set up. I noticed an increase in my surfing speed and after spending some time with Artera the results got even better. The benefits of the firewall and the ad blocker make this a great product for little money per month. It would be great if you could get it on a disk because a lot of people aren’t into downloading programs and setting them up.

Timothy

I searched for a service that would enhance my internet experiance for
months. I lived in FL and had a 50,666 dial-up connection there, then moved
to NY. My connection speed in Northern NY, well out in the country, was at
best 19.2 kps.

I tried Propel, Webcelerator, Proxyconn and
several others. Then I got the chance to try Artera Version I and now
Version II. The difference is like Night and Day! Artera truely does deliver
the goods like no other.

I was going to try and bounce a beam off a local tower that a friend of mine has for his wireless service(hey, when the offers there…) until I started using Artera. I am content as can be. I have posted several tests and results on the online message board Ragingbull.com as Mrinvest2k.

I sincerely hope that Artera gets more exposure, as I foresee the cost of
DSL expansion slowing due to market conditions. Companies like Lucent and
Corning are beat so far down with this recession, that Artera really makes
sense for people without Broadband.

I am getting average speeds of between 40.6 kps and 81.4 kps using Artera off my pathetic connection. Downloads have also increased using Artera’s Download Doubler.

Normally my little Microsoft
download window reads a download speed of 1.6 kps while getting a file. Now
it stays constant, no lower than 2.3 kps. I believe that is a substantial
increase. People that are getting a better Dial-up connection than myself
would benefit even more.

I hope this helps out with your conviction or praise of Artera Turbo, as
I am a firm believer Michael Parrella of NCT Group Inc. Finally has a
winner!

Alfred

This is only my third day with it. It does seem to be a bit faster. I don’t think it’s $10 faster.

I tried uninstalling it and my connection won’t work. I even went into the registry and deleted everything that had their name on it. I just tried e-mailing them to ask why but their server seems to be down. I’ll wait until my 14 days are up and see what happens then. (I had to reinstall the program to get back on line again).

Overall, I’d say Artera Turbo has a way to go yet. I searched around for some additional programs and found A LOT of pay and shareware programs. If you want to experiment, here are some sites with multiple links to accelerator programs:

Worldbreak.com

Tucows

Shareware Junction

Blue Chillies

The Freeware Network

The Boost

And finally, some articles that explore the subject of Web Accelerators:

Web accelerators solve network bottleneck

Do Web Accelerators Work?

A quick way to slow things down; oxymoron n. – Web-accelerators

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