More Whistler with less bandwidth 

Local Web guru uses little known technology to give slow modems high-bandwidth capabilities

It’s a pretty boring Web page, really. A few logos, no sounds – just a few paragraphs of explanation at the beginning and then the word "test" repeated over and over again, thousands and thousands of times.

It wasn’t designed to look good, however, but to test and showcase a new technology that allows low bandwidth 28.8K and 56K modems to work as fast as high bandwidth cable and DSL modems.

The page ( is more than three Megabytes in size, and yet it only takes between five and 10 seconds to download on cable. In tests using a 56.6K dial-up modem, it took anywhere between 20 and 40 seconds. Under ordinary circumstances, it would have taken over 20 minutes.

"I first discovered the technology when I got a 10 Meg security bulletin from the NSA (National Security Agency) in less than a second," explains Shane Bennett of "My system is very fast here, I’m right on the pipe, but that was fast. I opened the file again on a couple of other computers and the same thing happened, so I knew there was something else happening on the Internet that I’m not aware of."

In his own experiments with the technology, Bennett has downloaded the three-plus Megabyte test file in less than two seconds using his broadband modem, and six seconds using a 28.8 dial-up modem.

According to Bennett, there’s a little known feature that was built into the Internet years ago that nobody is really using.

"It’s like not making fuel efficient cars because the oil companies want to sell oil. Companies keep rolling out more bandwidth and more fibre instead of trying to make the Internet itself more efficient – more bandwidth-efficient instead of more energy efficient."

The technology enables Bennett to optimize most Web content and Web servers to make optimal use of the conventional dial-up services, which are still widely used in North America and around the world.

It cost "dearly," but Bennett feels the technology will help draw international visitors to Whistler by giving prospective visitors a high bandwidth experience regardless what kind of connection they have. They can access everything from Web cameras to virtual tours to reservations and bookings with a minimum of download time.

"This is really for the companies who understand how technology and tourism are intertwined," says Bennett.

Over 80 per cent of people are currently using the Internet to either research or book their vacations. According to Nielsen/NetRatings, more than 80 per cent of home users in the U.S. still use narrowband dial-up connections. In Europe and Asia, where broadband is considerably more expensive – and considerably slower than broadband services in North America – the number is even higher.

"If you can offer compelling, rich, fast-loading content that grabs someone on a conventional dial-up modem, and the experience is nice and captivating, they’re more likely to bookmark the site," says Bennett.

He recently upgraded his e-mail server to be cell phone compatible, which also means that people will be able to download content through their wireless devices, such as cell phones and personal data assistants, faster than before.

"Cell phones are usually even slower than 28.8 modems, so this technology will speed that up a lot."

Bennett currently hosts about 8,000 Internet domains from his home in Creekside, and he is already offering the fast broadband technology to clients who can benefit from faster Internet connections.

Business has faltered since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, but Bennett says he will focus on providing better and more personalized services to clients. A few clients left for slightly more affordable services, but by offering technology that provides a broadband experience to dial-up users, Bennett is confident he can retain most of his customers by enabling them to offer more content to more people in a more timely way.

"One of the advantages of being a little guy is that you’re more agile, and it’s easier to adapt this kind of technology to a few servers in my place and at my clients’, rather than national network servers.

"You have to shut down and upgrade, and there are a few hiccups along the way, which is why nobody else is using this. In a lot of cases it’s easier to switch to broadband than to go back and optimize for dial-up users, but you lose a lot of people on dial-up connections right there."

The technology also speeds up content for broadband users, and can support most conventional Internet technologies, such as jpegs, gifs, text, Flash and Shockwave animation, and cascading tile sheets. It doesn’t support compressed files, at least not yet.

"We have the core components right now, but we’re still developing it,’ says Bennett.


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