True internet connection speed

We often get a question along the lines of: "What will my speed with BeeVPN be on my X-hundred Mbit fiber internet connection?". The speed at which you get data from anywhere on the internet is dependent on several things - much more then just the connection you get from your provider. Read more for the explaination of the mechanics of what really affects your connection speed.


As shown on the figure on the left, the road to a specific data-source on the internet is a combination of several steps. It starts with your device and home network. Nowadays WIFI is used by most, and some devices are connected using cables. In case of wifi, the speed at which your device sends/receives data is determined by the the router your are using (802.11b, 802.11g or 802.11n) and how many other devices are on the wifi at the moment. The wifi works by dividing the radio spectrum between all clients, so each additional device is "using" more space in the spectrum. Of course even though several devices are connected - it is rarely the case that ALL of them receive huge chunks of data at the same time.


The router has some kind of maximum speed - but these are usually in the range of more than 100Mbit, so by being connected not through wifi, but by physical cables, the speed diminishment of multiple devices is minimal.


Then there is the device/computer itself (1). If the device is doing the traffic encryption by software (as it does by running a VPN client), then each packet of data sent is encrypted individually - and that uses CPU-power. This means that if a computer has slow/old CPU, or is doing several CPU-heavy tasks, there is a possibility the computer is not able to encrypt/decrypt the data packets at the same speed as they are incoming - resulting in data being available at a slower rate - and this ultimately feels like slower speed for the user.


Next is the ADSL/Fiber/Cable router (2). If your computer is doing the encryption then the router will just send the data along. If the router is doing the encryption - and has undersized CPU (which unfortunately is often the case) then a high traffic volume will result in possible delays.


The router is connected to central/hub of your provider (the plug in the wall). The connection between the router and the central is actually the connection speed that was advertised on your ADSL/Fiber/Cable agreement. It usually varies from 0.5Mbit to more than 100Mbit (fiber) - and between those two points (2 and 3) you will get the full speed that you are paying for.


The provider has several centrals (3) - which all get traffic from end users - and send it along to some main traffic hub (4). The thing to understand here is that the connection from the centrals to the provider (3 to 4) is always over-sold. This means that if a provider has 100 end-users on a central - each with 100mbit connection - then the central will not have 100 * 100Mbit = 10,000 Mbit connection to the main traffic hub. It will maybe have somewhere between 100Mbit and 1,000 Mbit. The logic behind this is that it's rarely the case that ALL of the users will use their FULL available speed at the same time. The avarage-joe user will rarely notice this, because if you use the connection to browse websites - you browse (get data) - you read the page (no data transfer) - there are pauses. In case of heavy-streaming or p2p this is different - especially with p2p, where the software is designed to maximize the utilization of the line. Thats why many providers throttle p2p or have "fair-use" caps on traffic usage - because by using the full line capacity all the time, there is less traffic left for other users on the same central/hub.


After the traffic hits the providers traffic hub, it goes to the "internet" (4 to 5). Now - the internet is actually just lots of different internet providers connected together. The provider will usually have a link to more the one "upstream" provider - and the traffic will be routed through the one upstream provider that is closest to the traffic destination. Some providers, especially smaller ones, have really bad upstream connections. This means that the traffic between the users on the providers own network can be blazingly fast - but as soon as data is sent from some other provider - and must flow through the bad upstream links, the users will see a big diminishment in data transfer rate.


When you're using VPN, the encrypted traffic will be routed to the VPN gateway. In case of BeeVPN, the traffic will hit our own backbone (6) and be routed to the sign-in gateway. Our gateway will then route the traffic through your personal firewall and then one of our outbound gateways and onto the internet again (7) - keeping you secure. At BeeVPN we always have a surplus traffic in our upstream links - we cooperate only with the best upstream providers - thats why the speeds from BeeVPN and out to the internet are higher than other VPN providers.


As described, the speed of the end-user internet connection is something quite different than the speed of data transfer from any point at the internet. People are often misinformed about what the speed they are buying actually means. The providers rarely mention all of the other aspects - except for the speed between the user - and the central - the so-called Last Mile speed. There's provider-over-selling, bad upstream links and bad equipment. All of those factors makes it even more important to choose a VPN provider with substantial network capabilities - enter BeeVPN. At BeeVPN we have our own backbone, with several upstream links to main providers - and the best equipment. This gives our users the best speed that is possible on a VPN connection.


If you are interested in reading more -  read more about our technology and what BeeVPN can be used for.