Newsgroup Provider speed is now the second most critical feature when evaluating a Usenet Provider. The 20mps that many home connections provide is much larger than corporations used to have only 2 years ago. A fast internet connection is no good if your Usenet Provider’s servers are slow or traffic is getting bottle-necked before it gets to you.
Speed is made up of both the speed of the provider’s servers and of the network backbones used.
Speed can also be influenced by the number of connections you are allowed to make (varies by plan with each provider).
Backbone network speed problems are a factor of how congested the backbone provider is and how many hops (routers) occur between you and the provider’s servers. It is also possible for a provider to overload one of their backbones if they do not buy a big enough connection to a backbone provider
Speed at the Usenet server farm is also important. Many second-tier providers have over-loaded their equipment, so databases take longer than they should to sift through headers and articles before sending them to you. Especially with large binary groups it can take forever to download headers if the usenet provider’s servers can’t find and send data, regardless of the network speed.
Having multiple connections open at once (providers usually allow from 3 to 20 connections at a time) MAY allow you to get more throughput by sending different parts of a message or file over multiple backbones. It is our experience that benefits of this approach fall off after about 3 connections though.
You can check the network speedand number of hops by running a Tracert. Many provider’s support pages also provide an on-line reverse tracert on their support pages. They may also list alternate backbone routes from their servers (Covad may have fewer hops to your house than UUnet). Giganews, Newshosting, and others allow you to choose which backbone is best for you by using a different port when connecting to their server.
In general, the Anchordudes’ analysis of speed is based on servers and header download speeds, as we feel most network problems are transient and can be addressed by connecting through a different port and backbone.