Are you a dial-up user looking for a faster connection,
but don’t like Broadband prices? If so, you should take a look at a new service called OnSpeed, which has received rave reviews in Internet technology publications.
What OnSpeed does is to re-route web pages and email via
its own servers, compressing the data on the fly prior to sending it onwards to your PC. A small program then decompresses the data, so that you can view it in the normal way via your browser or email client.
In my own dial-up tests, with a modem running at a nominal
49kb/s I appeared to get speeds close to that of my normal
broadband connection of 598 kb/s – very impressive. Image quality is often reduced but the compression for this can be improved, though with an adverse effect on the speed of course.
Some file types like MP3 also cannot yet be compressed. The
company is working on these issues however and expects to
find solutions soon.
Unfortunately I was unable to use email in my tests, due
to a ‘port’ conflict with a spam filter that I was using. The
standard advice on the OnSpeed site for such cases is to disable the offending program. Not a constructive approach – to say
the least – so I hope that the relevant instructions will be changed soon.
More significantly, the problem persisted even when I
switched off the OnSpeed application on my PC; in the end I had to remove the program to get the spam filter working again. I expect that this fault can be resolved, but clearly there are issues in this area that need to be addressed.
The software is easy to install, and is available for Mac
as well as Windows PCs. On the whole the service is surprisingly
good, and a lot cheaper than broadband. Unlike other ‘speed-up’
techniques that tweak your computer’s settings but result in
little noticeable improvement, OnSpeed really works.
I can recommend OnSpeed for dial-up users who can’t justify the
expense of broadband, or who are not located close enough to a
suitable exchange. OnSpeed is also stated to be great for mobile
or PDA users, as GPRS (wireless) speeds can be boosted by as much
as 8 times. It even helps with broadband if you can only get a
reduced service in your area.
My overall rating is 4/5 – very good, but the email support needs
to be improved.
If you want further details of OnSpeed, please visit http://www.On-Speed.net. There is a 14 day money-back
guarantee, so you can try the service without any risk.
Copyright © Richard Prosser 2004