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Part One: The Machine Goes "Ping"
So you just got Ethernet set up at your transmitter site, and it's working – but maybe not quite as fast as you expected. There are some ways to easily check the speed of the connection, and to tweak it up as a system.
It's likely that your remote network has some sort of connection (either physical or virtual) back to your headquarters. If that connection seems slow or somehow unreliable the first thing to do is a ping test to see how fast the response is. On a PC running Windows, click Start, Run, and type CMD. This brings up a command window with a flashing prompt. At this prompt you can do several things:
Ping your gateway address and you should see a response of less than 10 ms typically. If your gateway is reached via a LAN bridge this time could be longer.
Ping your gateway repeatedly by typing in ping
Making use of a LAN bridge of some sort (for example, a Harris/Intraplex DS-64NC) is going to slow your system down somewhat because the bridge takes a little time to decide whether or not to pass frames that your local host is generating on the transmitter site LAN over the connection to the LAN on the opposite side. This is the most likely place to have a bottleneck in terms of network's speed inbound and outbound.
As you look at the results of the ping -n test ideally you'll see that the response time is very consistent. If not, that may indicate a problem with the physical connection, or even the bridge itself.
Assuming you can ping your gateway successfully and consistently then you may want to do a speed test to a server outside of your network. One particular website I've used for years is dslreports.com. This test will tell you the latency to the particular site you pick (obviously the smaller number the better) along with the download and upload speed. The typical concern for a home user is mainly with download speed; however, if you intend to have hosts on your remote network that are remotely accessible, then upload speed is just as important (if not more so) then the download speed. Another good site for testing speed is speedtest.net, which will also give you upload and download speed along with ping time (basically the roundtrip time for a ping from your test host to whatever site you happen to pick for your test).
Next month I'll dig into this further with a specific example.
Irwin is transmission systems supervisor for Clear Channel NYC and chief engineer of WKTU, New York. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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