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56k Times Five: Myth Or Moneymaker? 529

maxentius writes " has an article on not-broadband-but-still-faster telephone internet access premiering soon in more than one commercial ISP venue. Compression and other techniques will improve speed by up to five times, so they say. Hi-tech or hogwash?"
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56k Times Five: Myth Or Moneymaker?

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  • By the time this is availible, broadband will be at the places they plan to cover.

    I can tie up the phone line and go slowly (faster, but still slow) for a little less then to get the real thing. No thanks.
  • Myth (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KingDaveRa ( 620784 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2003 @05:27PM (#5600195) Homepage
    Its obviously transparent proxying and compression of data. If you download something like a long html document, you would probably see speed improvements - if you try downloading an MP3, you'll see no improvement at all. How do you compress what's allready compressed?

    Nice Idea, but doesn't really do what it says on the tin.
    • Re:Myth (Score:5, Interesting)

      by GreyPoopon ( 411036 ) <gpoopon@ g m a> on Wednesday March 26, 2003 @05:35PM (#5600291)
      Its obviously transparent proxying and compression of data.

      I think you're probably correct. You can always enable HTML compression at the web server and web clients that "understand" it will see better performance. We started using it where I work for mobile devices connected to our intranet, but we were disappointed by the results -- mostly because the images being downloaded (the bulk of the data) were already compressed and the HTML compression had a negligible impact on performance. I would anticipate similar issues if the technology Earthlink is using is the same. and will download pretty fast. Viewing the latest photos on your family website will still be an exercise in patience.

    • Re:Myth (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gmack ( 197796 )
      Right but modems have had transparent compression for a long time. 56k is 56k+plus compression.

      I don't see anything new and given the fact that telcos internally encode analog lines at 64k I don't see much more improvement there either given that an 8k loss in the analog to digital conversion and back again is extrordinarily small when you think about it.

      • As modems have tiny little CPUs in them, and very little memory, the V.44 and other compression schemes they use are not very effective. Zip, Compress, and other host-based compressions algorithms which require much more memory and cpu than V.44 and friends always compress much better than the modem's compression.
    • Re:Myth (Score:5, Informative)

      by TopShelf ( 92521 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2003 @05:40PM (#5600335) Homepage Journal
      They're using Propel's web accelerator. From Propel's website []:

      What will be accelerated
      All text - HTML, markup, and javascript
      Most graphics & photos - including jpeg and gif images and most Flash images and animation
      Most banner ads
      All browser-based emails
      All emails that contain images - even when read in a dedicated email program

      What will *not* be accelerated
      Streaming media, and audio and video files
      Secure pages, such as those used for online banking and credit card forms
      MP3 files and executable programs

      • Re:Myth (Score:5, Funny)

        by AdamJ ( 28538 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2003 @05:46PM (#5600384) Homepage
        Most banner ads

        Boy, I can't wait to download those even faster!
        • Re:Myth (Score:4, Insightful)

          by TopShelf ( 92521 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2003 @05:48PM (#5600410) Homepage Journal
          Seriously! By simply blocking them, they'd accelerate your web experience even further!

          Speaking of such, does anyone know of a good was to screen out Flash animations?

          • take a look at Privoxy [] (from the guys that brought you junkbuster. There is a setting to strip flash []. It also has configuration via a web page, very nice.
          • Re:Myth (Score:5, Informative)

            by reidbold ( 55120 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2003 @05:58PM (#5600492)
            You could try uninstalling the flash player.
          • does anyone know of a good was to screen out Flash animations?

            How about by not having the Flash plugin installed?
            • Re:Myth (Score:5, Funny)

              by Anonvmous Coward ( 589068 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2003 @07:14PM (#5601136)
              "How about by not having the Flash plugin installed?"

              If you're an IE user, you get nagged to death.

              "Would you like to install this piece of software?"


              [Click on a link]

              "Would you like to install this piece of software?"


              [Click on a link]

              "Would you like to install this piece of software?"


              That's the nasty thing about auto-installing plugins like ActiveX controls. They always send the request to be installed without any knowledge that they were turned down earlier. I wouldn't blame MS for this either. Back in the dot-com days, web developers thought their audience was incredibly incompetant when it came to using computers. If they didn't have an auto-installer, they wouldn't use it for fear that some wanker couldn't figure out how to hit save and okay a couple of times. Thanks to popular demand, this stupid auto-install feature was born.

              So that's why uninstalling it doesn't fix it.

            dl the pref bar and use the kill flash button whenever a flash bugs you. You can also tell the prefbar not to allow your webbrowser to dl javascripts or images, as well as you it to fool webpages into thinking you're actuall using IE (isntead of moz). VERY useful tool.

  • Wouln't the constant compressing and decompressing contribute to latency? It must compress data by more than five times to compensate
  • Read the Article (Score:4, Informative)

    by Obiwan Kenobi ( 32807 ) <evan@misteroBALD ... com minus author> on Wednesday March 26, 2003 @05:29PM (#5600210) Homepage
    So the ISP will be using compression when a user requests a page or file. This won't help in the speed of downloading already compressed files, only web browsing.

    Email speed will stay the same.

    Downloading compressed files will stay the same.

    Browsing will be somewhat faster, but 7x is a stretch.

    More than anything, I bet most of those $28.95/mo customers will be paying for the privilege of ~5min support response calls.

    Definitely file this one into the "Hype" category of Hogwash.
    • considering that the 3 times I've had to call Earthlink support i've waited on average about 70 minutes per call, the extra $5 per month isn't such a bad idea. Thats an hour and a half waiting on hold while the customer service person gets to me, its not including the 10-20 minutes actually spent getting the person to undestand my problem and doing what they can to fix it.

      Thats not a very good number...

      [The last time I used thier web/java-based instant message service and I was in and out in 10 minutes wi
    • - for those who want to learn more about thre actual technology this service will be using.

      I personally think they have some good ideas.

      Persistant Connections


      Diff'ing against the unchanged data you already have


      But -- I have been on broadband for so long -- what do I know :)
    • Downloading compressed files will stay the same.

      In fact, unless there is some bypass mechanism, it is likely to degrade slightly. Unless the compression is streaming, there will be a need to buffer blocks of data, which will cause delays. And if the compression is streaming, it is likely to increase the size of compressed files slightly.

      This can be mitigated by recognizing highly random data sources such as compressed or encrypted files. Of course, this is being sold to a broad market. It will be o

    • It's just web! Hell, web access isn't a big deal over 56K. It's other things, like FTP and Terminal Services, and proprietary stuff (like Kazaa). This is 100% useless to me. I'll stick with my 56K, thank you.
    • But are POP, SMTP, and IMAP normally compressed? Since mail docs are mainly text and aren't latency sensitive, a 75% compression would be plausible for some kinds of content.

      Still, this is obvious enough that I imagine at least some mail systems must be gzipping the connection.

      This being Slashdot, I'm sure someone knows all about this. I'd love to hear details about where and how compressed mail is used.
  • Won't work... (Score:4, Informative)

    by ZorinLynx ( 31751 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2003 @05:29PM (#5600212) Homepage
    A normal telephone call, at least in the united states, is carried on a 64Kbps channel. IE, the sound is sampled, converted into a 64Kbps bit stream that is sent through the network to the other end, where it is converted back into an analog stream.

    This makes it impossible to cram more than 64Kbps into a phone call. Sure, you can compress the data, but once data is already compressed (as images, movies, and other things people usually want fat bandwidth for), it can't be compressed anymore.

    Unless they dramatically change the analog phone network, which won't happen, this is a pipe dream. Sorry guys.

    • A normal telephone call, at least in the united states, is carried on a 64Kbps channel. IE, the sound is sampled, converted into a 64Kbps bit stream that is sent through the network to the other end, where it is converted back into an analog stream.

      I beleive the limit is actually 56Kbps not 64Kbps. Hence the limit of current modems to 56Kbps. IIRC the FCC throttles that down to 53Kbps to make sure the rest of the channel is used for error correction. So if your ISP advertises 56K connections they are
      • But DSL uses a POTS Spliter to seperate DSL and Analog phone service at the CO. The Phone service continues the normal path. The DSL hits a DSLAM and it tossed on a ATM network that routes the traffic to whatever ISP you've choosen.

        The whole 53K Vs 56K thing only matters until your analog call gets converted to digital and placed on the phone network. Which can happen as far as your local central office or as close as your phone pole. After that it's delivered to your ISP via T1 (or T3, or even a simpl
  • by bobdotorg ( 598873 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2003 @05:29PM (#5600213)
    EarthLink Plus uses a proprietary "Web Accelerator" from Propel Software which reduces the size of Web pages and elements sent to users' browsers.

    Sounds cool, but in reality it's just Lynx for OSX.
    • by Shishak ( 12540 )

      It saves the costly 3-way TCP handshake on the slow modem connection by installing a local side proxy. The proxy makes a couple permanent TCP connections to a squid proxy on the other end. I know for a fact propel uses squid on the server side. If the content is cached you save 1.5 * ping time to server for every request to that server.
  • possibly... (Score:4, Informative)

    by ferrocene ( 203243 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2003 @05:29PM (#5600220) Journal
    My ISP just implemented such a thing, and as an ex-employee I got to beta test. All the beta testers signed up for the new service as soon as the testing period was over, which is $5 more a month than the regular dialup. So it looks like they're doing something right.
  • Speed vs. Time (Score:4, Informative)

    by ChrisKnight ( 16039 ) <merlin AT ghostwheel DOT com> on Wednesday March 26, 2003 @05:30PM (#5600223) Homepage
    Just because web pages load five times faster, do not assume your connection speed is five times faster. The basis of the Plus service is a web optimization proxy server that sits between you and web servers. It automatically reduces the size on images, compresses the text, and does various tweaks to squeeze more into your 56k.

    Your MP3s and bad porn will still come across just as slow on your gnutella client. Sorry.

  • by Stonent1 ( 594886 ) <stonent.stonent@pointclark@net> on Wednesday March 26, 2003 @05:30PM (#5600226) Journal
    Does anyone else remember the 24/96 modems that used to be sold? They were touted as "almost as good as" the true 9600bps modems. They used compression to achieve higher speeds which were actually just choppier and didn't seem much faster. Some of the original compression standards were MNP5 and later V42.bis.
  • If you really can't get DSL or cable fine. But in terms of browsing experience this won't come close.
    While bandwidth heavy pages that happen to be compressible MIGHT load faster, access won't be always-on, and will be miserable if shared between 2 or more users...
  • by finnhart ( 653695 )
    You find out that Earthlink isn't actually changing the dialup speed at the modem level .. they are just reselling Propel [] software's Accelerator [] product. Earthlink is charging a $7/month premium over their standard dialup, so Earthlink subscribers get a full $0.95 / month savings over simply buying Propel's offering.
  • I hope that EarthLink qualifies what they mean by 5x faster. They're probably talking about "user experience" speeds. Because, if you think about it, when we do backups, we use 2:1 compression as the "ideal," and everyone that's ever loaded Travan or DLT or DDS drives knows that when it says 200GB, it means 200GB compressed at 2:1. Short of some sort of very high-powered (in terms of CPU cycles) compression, 5:1 is almost impossible to achieve--certainly with desktop hardware, and probably not at all.
  • So I get to pay extra per month for them to compress webpage text on their end.

    So yay, the text part of a webpage comes a little faster. So that 10k or so of HTML is 5x faster.

    Those images, MP3s, streaming video, and all that are all already compressed (normally lossy at that)... I doubt they're gonna do much with that. And why on earth do you want something more than dialup if you're not using high-bandwidth applications?

    What's sad is that people will actually pay extra for this.
  • by kdgarris ( 91435 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2003 @05:32PM (#5600245) Journal
    Perhaps they are using the Lzip compression algorithm to speed things up.
  • Mod_gzip, anyone?

    How does something like this work for things that are already compressed, like, say, anything that passes through mod_gzip, a V.44 modem connection, .zip/bz2/tgz files, JPEG/MPEG files... anything I can think of, that I'd want to get "faster", is probably already being compressed somewhere along the line. Possibly multiple times.

    The only ways I can think of to speed things further, at least in the case of images, is to resize cached copies, like AOL does, and that's just not a pleasant id
  • This is bull.
    Images constitute most of the data being downloaded. HTML is text- it's very small compared to images.
    JPG, GIF, and PNG are already compressed as far as is practical.

    So this technique is only compressing the HTML text. No big deal, and NO WAY 5X speed improvements.

  • Hmm (Score:3, Funny)

    by rmohr02 ( 208447 ) <mohr.42@[ ].edu ['osu' in gap]> on Wednesday March 26, 2003 @05:33PM (#5600258)
    Already, the erosion of AOL's dial-up base is starting to show. During the fourth quarter it lost 176,000 narrowband subscribers.
    Now that's a shame.
  • by Lxy ( 80823 )
    Did anyone find this odd?
    want faster connections but aren't willing to pay for broadband

    willing to pay for broadband? More like "unable to get broadband". Even though Broadband prices are quite steep, it's usually not a deterrant. No, the fact that most people have no choice is the real problem.

    Now, put that in the context of the article. Who do you know that can't get broadband but can get a good dialup connection? Most of the time if a person can't get broadband, they can't get over 26K dialup e
  • Hogwash
  • There is only so much data that canbe stuffed through a telephone wire over a circuit-switched connection. People have been promising to speed up dial-up for years, and the story is always that they have a miracle compression system or a proxy system or even predictive proxying. Combinations of all of the above are promised as well.

    The fact is that when you pull big data files that are already compressed, you can't do much to improve things. You are stuffing 8 great tomatoes into the itty-bitty can already
  • I met Kara the other day, and she's nowhere near as multi-talented as IBM would have you believe.
  • Is this a proxying service like blazer? [] Or a rip-off like punching the monkey [] or modem accelerators? []

    Sounds suspicious at best. After all if it looks like crap and smells like crap, you shouldn't taste it.

  • Try my test. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by danheskett ( 178529 ) <danheskett&gmail,com> on Wednesday March 26, 2003 @05:37PM (#5600311)
    That claim is silly and bogus. "Up to five times faster".

    I tell them what. I have a text file with 1,048,576 bytes of rather random ASCII data in it. Compressed with zip it is actually larger than that size, indicating it is rather random.

    Okay, that file on represents 8,388,608 bits. On a perfect 56k connection - thats 56 kilobits, maning 57,344 bits per second, that should download in about 146 seconds, or just over two minutes.

    That's the baseline. In actual real world circumstances that 1MB text file takes between 4-5 minutes to transfer with a 56k connection to Earthlink. In most cases people do not even connect at true 56k, but rather, something between 33.6k and 56k.

    Regardless, to support these claims they'd have to show me that same file transferred in ~30 seconds.

    It's going to happen.
    Obviously what they are claiming is that for text files (aka web pages) with 90% compressible content they can expect a multi-fold increase in performance.

    HOWEVER, even this is suspect, because most modems and whatnot already support compression. AND a lot of webservers/web browsers are going to be sending gzip'd data to start with.

    This all means that this all sounds suspect. Not suspect, but rather, false.
    • by morcheeba ( 260908 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2003 @06:16PM (#5600630) Journal
      Yep, your file will go through at 0.9x of the regular speed (slower). This is less than 5x faster, so they win! All they are guaranteeing is a maximum speed (5x faster), and that's not hard to do. Stupid, yes. Truth in advertising, yes.

      The vast majority of 56k modems already do compression, CSLIP compresses headers [], and HTML compression is already built into modern browsers []. What's left is caching, image-size/quality reduction, and pop-up blocking. AOL already does two of those three - take a guess which two!!
    • Re:Try my test. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Upright Joe ( 658035 )
      Random ASCII data is not a text file, it's a binary file. A text file typically only contains the characters you can type with a keyboard, plus a few special characters like carriage returns and tabs. Also, most text files contain words primarily in one language which causes some characters to appear much more frequently than others. This allows those frequently used characters to be represented by only a couple of bits rather than an entire byte.

      Most text files compress extremely well, I frequently see
  • by hoggoth ( 414195 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2003 @05:38PM (#5600315) Journal
    They have invented a new text compression method that is analogous to the pscho-acoustic models used to remove the sound the human ear doesn't notice anyway.

    Thy smply rmv ll f th vwls n th txt. Ths wy thy cn gt a hghr cmprssn rt.

    Thnk f t ths wy: Thy cn cmprss t 11. The thr gys cn nly cmprss t 10. S, 11 s bttr thn 10.

    • by CaffeineAddict2001 ( 518485 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2003 @05:55PM (#5600464)
      By the sound of my modem it looks like the current compression scheme is to take out all the consonants:


    • They have invented a new text compression method that is analogous to the pscho-acoustic models used to remove the sound the human ear doesn't notice anyway.

      There's prior art for this. AOL IM and Yahoo's YM already do this.

      user: h
      me: hello.
      user: wen r u gonna fix bug xxxx?
      me: I'm working on it.
      user: teh bug sux.
      me: I know, I'll get to it soon.
      user: k. syl.
      me: see you later.

    • They have invented a new text compression method [...]
      Yes ... they replace dark green pixels (#006400) with smaller black ones (#0). That's 1/6 the size! It also works with dark red, dark gray, dark brown, etc.

      Bright sites, unfortunately, show very little improvements.
  • From the review of Propel Software Accelerator []

    Editors' Rating 9.0

    Interface and ease of use 10

    Installation and setup 10

    Service and support 7

    Performance 9

    Features 9

    For years, frustrated Netizens have sought new ways to eke out a few more bits per second from their poky 56K connections. Most speed-up schemes (modem doublers, caching programs, and registry optimizers, such as Internet Rocket) generate a lot of hype but little else. Propel Software, on the other hand, offers a
  • I read a similar article in PcMagazine a while back. The technologies work in two ways. One takes popular websites and stores it in their own servers for supposably faster retreival. Sometimes you get faster results because of it, but only if their servers happen to be faster and the sites you visit are commonly visited (, etc.). However, it usually isn't worth the $10-20 a month they service costs. The next option is to go with the compressing technique, which basically compresses graphics. A tri
  • Bitrate and bandwidth aren't being increased, so the connection isn't any faster. This will help people that just browse the web, but not gamers, IT people that work from home, those that like to download and upload large files, etc.
  • Sound like they simply took Ziproxy and are packaging it 7 []

    Actually I myself have been meaning to set it up for myself...

    -Benjamin Meyer

  • Propel et al are all just snake oil vendors who want your marketing data. All they run is a glorified proxy server that adds some compression (before the modem compresses the data anyway). At times their compression is counter productive and will slow things down. There's also a web cache thing on the client (which really isn't much better then the built in web cache.

    What is evil is all of their customers and customer's customer's traffic is run though their servers. Just wait unti a customer stubles up
  • I'm a software guy, so I like to think you can do anything in software. But to be realistic, there are some things you just have to do in hardware. If the hardware hasn't changed (which according to the article: it hasn't), then it won't work as advertised for everything. Some things, maybe. But not everything.
  • Sounds to me from reading that somewhat inadequate article that it's all advertising hype.

    They're claiming it will run 5x faster than 56k modem. Well, the thing is they're only employing compression technology to web pages.

    So, it's still running at 56k. But webpages may download up to 5x faster, depending on their content.

    The speed is the same, it's just web content is compressed. Which means if you get kazaa happy just thinking of this, remember that the compression is not going to compress content f
  • By converting the images into a lossy, 256 color format. Yes, the webpage loads faster, but the images are limited to the color depth at which they're displayed. Basically, if you view a web page in 256 color mode, a true color image will be downgraded to 256 color mode. Which means that if you save the image, and later switch to a true color mode, you're still stuck with a pixelated 256 color image.

    Also, while compressing html might be a good idea for viewing webpages only, it still won't help when

  • by washirv ( 130045 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2003 @05:42PM (#5600357)
    Surely it could be both.
  • Near as I can tell from the PR fluff, it speeds "web browsing", not actual throughput, through use of compression, better image caching, and preloading of images.

    Meaning that your bandwidth remains at the same pokey 53K it always was.

    Meaning that you don't wait for banner ads - they get downloaded in the background while the modem's idle.

    Meaning it's nothing more than glorified adware/spyware.

    Meaning it's the same crap you get spammed for every day.

    On one hand, you've got the snake oil advertized

    • Heavy dialup users realize that with DSL/cable at $30/month, and dialup at $20/month, they're better off with broadband. Infrequent dialup users are realizing that with competing dialup at $10/month, they're better off with $10/month dialup than the $22/month offering.

      Nope. I'm a very heavy dialup user, but I'm not better off with broadband. Cable modem requires me to get basic cable service, which I don't have or want. So in actuality, it's closer to $50-70/month. DSL requires me to get a land line,
  • EarthLink Plus uses a proprietary "Web Accelerator" from Propel Software which reduces the size of Web pages and elements sent to users' browsers.

    Okay, this is almost on-topic, but if 70% of pages weren't coded so badly with poor html tools that fill html code with useless extra text, textual parts of the web would load probably 5 times faster anyway.

    Christ, the simple proper use of CSS instead of old-school font tags can reduce a page's size considerably. And you're browser will probably render it q

  • This software works by creating a HTTP proxy on your machine. Your web browser is configured to use the local proxy. The proxy is configured to open a TCP connection to a squid proxy.

    It works because it eliminates the expensive TCP socket creation and teardown process for every web request. If you look at a website that has 10 images on it you'll need to make 11 connections to the web server (assuming keepalive isn't enabled on the client or server). If you are on a dialup link with a ping time of 200m
  • "EarthLink Plus uses a proprietary "Web Accelerator" from Propel Software which reduces the size of Web pages and elements sent to users' browsers."

    So, basically they use some compression and caching over the last mile to make web pages pop up faster. I wonder how many web sites won't work properly with the caching part of this.

    This won't make any difference for internet games or other non web applications. Just having web developers take out all the unneeded whitespace out of web pages would probably h
  • Three years ago, I had a CDPD (Cellular Digital Packet Data - 19.2 kbps) Internet connection for my contract work. While I could do anything anywhere, it was slow - slower than a 28.8 modem, as should be obvious.

    Fortunately for me, my wireless ISP offered a Venturi [] proxy. Routing web browsing, POP3, etc. through it, while still slow, became more bearable.

    Retrieving log data (easily compressible) through the Venturi proxy had incredible speedups. For some tasks, the compression proxy made me feel like I

  • These "compression" servers do two things. The first is standards or client based compression e.g. removing carriage returns from your HTML or using a client to pipe the text through a compression program and then decompressing that data at the client side. But the gains are pretty much all seen in the image compression. All the image compression does though is downsample your images to a lower rate, pixelizing the hell out of them and making them almost useless. This is a poor effort pimped by a marketi

  • These guys [] are mainly going at SOHO and SMB markets through local resellers, they claim DSL speed with their proprietary system(derived from MidPoint?) [] and they have a free trial [] These are the same folks that brough out the Gekko flat-panel speakers [] that were hot for a while, and who do noise reduction on some jets and headsets []... Oh, and don't forget to check Google []

    Sooo. I guess the overwhelmingly popular question will be "who has tried it"... I'll ignore the "faster pron" jokes that should show up
  • why don't they just focus on providing cheap DSL?
  • From what I read in the article, it sounds like 5x would be a little overstated. They use Web Accelerator and web page compression to increase throughput. The actual amount of Kb/s doesn't seem to be any different, just that it's compressed. One would think this would require more overhead on both their side (to compress) and the user side (to uncompress), meaning page requests could seem much slower.

    On top of that, it could increase loss of quality since I'd imagine they'd be using lossy compression on
  • by Myrv ( 305480 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2003 @05:52PM (#5600450)
    It supposedly works by doing:

    * Compression. Propel Accelerator delivers text and graphics more efficiently, using a proprietary compression technology

    This won't work with already compressed images unless it reduces the quality or resolution.

    * Caching. Propel Accelerator intelligently retains and re-uses Web pages and page elements that have previously been sent to your PC. That's why the longer Propel Accelerator is in use on your PC, the faster your Web pages will load.

    Nothing a simple proxy server doesn't already do. It may do pre-fetching of links but that won't improve the net throughput of your pipe.

    * Persistent Connections. Propel Accelerator uses proprietary techniques to carefully manage and optimize the communication between your modem and our network of servers through a persistent connection. This eliminates the time wasted re-establishing and closing TCP/IP connections.

    Internet Explorer already got in trouble by doing this. Leaving the TCP/IP connect unclosed violates standard practices and will only improve web speed if the server is running IIS since it expects IE to do this same trick.

    Overall it's all really just a bunch of caching with maybe some pre-fetching thrown in. Just up your browsers cache settings and enable Mozilla's multiple pipe feature and you're set.

    Nothing but a waste of money.
    • by pclminion ( 145572 )
      This won't work with already compressed images unless it reduces the quality or resolution.

      What if they have a better compression algorithm that makes the image smaller while retaining quality? JPEG is widespread and standardized but it is not "king" in terms of modern image compression performance. They probably have a transcoder which translates between JPEG and whatever their proprietary format is, with as little degradation as possible. Even a 5-10% savings would make a difference.

      Leaving the TCP/I

  • This place [] has been selling a similar service called "Velocity Access" for well over a year now. They claim 6x instead of 7x.
  • Why? Check THIS crap [] out. Everything else they sell is basically crap (used hardware as new, etc..) and their ISP is a complete patch job.

    And no, I'm not talking about Fry's. But.. "DSL Buster?" heh.
    Sorry, modems are still slow.
  • This can never work.

    If we assume their example,

    56K Times 5 = Moneymaker
    ( 280)(1024)b=(1000)(1000)s .28672=s/b

    and since s/b is actually .28673, this plan is obviously doomed to failure.
  • What's the big deal? The modem already compresses data on the fly, and some webpages already come .gz compressed. Standard text data compression is pretty old science, and from what I can tell, this won't do a damn thing to speed up images, a single one of which typically is larger than the entire html file.

  • V.9x modems (56kb standard) use standard V.42/V.42bis data compression. Compressing data further over this might reduce the efficency of the modem as is.
  • How does it work? (Score:4, Informative)

    by stratjakt ( 596332 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2003 @05:56PM (#5600477) Journal

    Propel Accelerator is designed to provide maximum acceleration for the Web sites you visit regularly.

    So, the more you surf, the faster your favorite pages will load!

    Specifically, Propel Accelerator speeds up the delivery of Web pages three ways:

    Compression. Propel Accelerator delivers text and graphics more efficiently, using a proprietary compression technology that significantly reduces the size of Web pages and page elements sent to your browser.

    Caching. Propel Accelerator intelligently retains and re-uses Web pages and page elements that have previously been sent to your PC. That's why the longer Propel Accelerator is in use on your PC, the faster your Web pages will load.

    Persistent Connections. Propel Accelerator uses proprietary techniques to carefully manage and optimize the communication between your modem and our network of servers through a persistent connection. This eliminates the time wasted re-establishing and closing TCP/IP connections.
    Looking for more technical detail on how Propel Accelerator works? Please refer to our Technical Overview. It explains the various components and how they interact with one another.

    Nothing magic. It compresses a whole page, images and all, on the ISP side, and sends it down a persistant pipe to your client, along with some more intelligent caching information than is default (ie, the /. icons would stay cached but the text wouldnt).

    It would probably 'look' faster since the whole page is delivered in one package, and renders all at once, rather than having text and waiting for images to show up.

    It only accelerates HTTP AFAIK, so it's useless for anyone but the mom and pop web browser. It's certainly no substitute for bandwidth. The joe users buy broadband for P2P and streaming video and VPNs, none of which this 'technology' helps.

    It also sounds like it would require client side software. Support? "Windows 98/NT 4.0/2000/ME/XP (sorry, no Macintosh support yet." which goes without saying.

    Which brings me to a question. I regularly route my web browsing through my squid proxy at home (through ssh). Since my home uplink is 15k, it throttles my browsing. Is there an open source clone of this, or something similar?
  • by g4dget ( 579145 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2003 @05:59PM (#5600503)
    Modern modem protocols (e.g., V42bis) already perform pretty decent compression. You can find some test results here []. Effective compression of web content was an explicit goal in the design of recent modem standards.

    The software solution may seem to help with some computer setups, but that's because many computers are misconfigured: a 56k modem with compression needs to be hooked up to the computer at 230kbps or 460kbps because when the modem performs the decompression, it will need to send a high-speed data stream to the computer. The best solution for those high data rates is to just get a modern USB modem.

  • Most of them will see the numbers and the hype and believe it. But, as many others have said, it IS a myth. Don't believe it? Try this:

    If you are a Linux user:

    du -h

    Tar and gzip the folder, then do a vdir on it.

    What do you see? Same size? Possibly even larger?

    If you are a Windows user:

    Right click and get properties on a folder full of mp3s or oggs.

    Zip it up and compare the zip file's size with the size of the original folder.

    Again, what do you see? Same size? Possibly even larger?

    Like someon
  • Example of how one service like this works can be found here: []

  • This is not exactly new tech here. Many wireless providers, such as Voicestream/T-Mobile/whatever they are called this week, use this accelerating proxy for PDAs and laptops. They will actually attempt to re-compress and re-size many of the images from the websites. They also strip out "redundant" information from the HTML.

    For the image recompression, they can also convert the image to B&W (user setting) for additional compression. Based on this, I would say the 7x faster web page download is possi
  • by telstar ( 236404 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2003 @06:04PM (#5600547)
    Wow, all we need to do is combine this technology with this technology [] and we'll have our information before we even load the browser.
  • by JohnA ( 131062 ) <(johnanderson) (at) (> on Wednesday March 26, 2003 @06:08PM (#5600568) Homepage
    Propel Internet [] = "Turbocharged" Internet
    Propel Fitness Water [] = "Turbocharged" Water

    We're doomed.

  • While it's possible to do 5:1 on some HTML stuff, that assumes that mod_gzip or other compression schemes aren't being used.

    And for images, they're presumably just reencoding them at a higher compression ratio, ala AOL. Which can work if you prefer crappy quality, faster.

    But TANSTAAFL always applies.
  • Broadband users are worried about MP3's, sharing video, and clients who mail them 100MB zip files of photoshop documents. Surfing faster? Sure, it would be *nice*, but it is by no means the reason to have broadband.

    Earthlink is right, this is a step towards a better dialup but with no risk of taking a chunk out of their Comcast DSL market.

    I can't think of any reason why HTML compression and intelligent caching can't be used in a broadband connection to make that 1 second reload of slashdot a .5 second r
  • by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2003 @07:10PM (#5601109) Homepage Journal
    There does seem to be one clever thing they are doing. From their web page:
    ..The next time you visit the Amazon home page (which may have changed since the last visit), the following events occur:
    • Your request for the Web page is automatically routed by the Propel Client to the Propel Network.
    • The Propel Network retrieves the requested Web page from the Amazon Web site. Having identified the page elements that had previously been retrieved in a prior visit, the Propel Network only compresses and transmits those components that changed.
    • Data already stored on your PC - plus any new decoded page elements - are assembled locally by the Propel Client and delivered to the Web browser.
    Diffs! That's actually a good idea and it really would work.
  • by t-maxx cowboy ( 449313 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2003 @08:26PM (#5601548) Journal
    In Winnipeg, Manitoba, our DSL and Cable internet providers have a lightspeed, or lite speed. a.k.a. 5x dialup speeds. That 5x dialup is based on a 28.8kpbs modem, not 57.6kpbs modem. So yeah 12-15KBps is about the top end on those accounts.

Perfection is acheived only on the point of collapse. - C. N. Parkinson