We often get customers calling complaining about the speed of their broadband connection and while there are usually identifiable technical reasons, either on our network or on their PCs, sometimes its just how traffic ebbs and flows on any broadband network.
If you were to make the analogy between a broadband network and the road network for example. On large sections of the M50 motorway the speed limit is 100KM, but you’d be lucky to get 20KM during rush hour. If you were to build the M50 so that you could go at 100KM during rush hour then it would need to be 20 lanes wide (I drove on a freeway in Santa Monica that was 13 lanes wide, scary). That would clearly be impractical. Like on the roads many people choose to do non time-critical downloads during peak times. Peak times for the Internet in Ireland are between 18:00 and 00:00, although there is a noticeable increase in traffic from about 16:30, when the kids get home from school. Most download utilities provide an option to schedule your LEGAL ONLY downloads for a quieter time, say between 01:00 and 6:00, when there is very little traffic. If we could educate everybody to stop all unnecessary traffic during peak times, then it would double the available bandwidth and dramatically increase speeds for those applications we really want to use like Skype, YouTube, online games, etc.
Now before anybody jumps down my neck, I fully accept that describing the broadband infrastructure in Ireland, outside of the major urban centers, as motorways is stretching the analogy. But we do constantly fight the battle with the powers that be to bring in faster back-haul connections so that we can increase the speeds available to our customers.