Here is a test of your connection to the 'net. It includes a traceroute and ping times. Test your speed. What you are testing is not just the speed into your computer, but the speed of the slowest link between you and the test server.
(The test does not work with Netscape 4 on my computer. I don't know why.)
Here is another, in Florida. This site in Europe is full of links to various speed tests.
How can you speed up your connection? Possibly the easiest is to visit PCPitstop. Look for their "Internet Speed AutoFix". It is a simple fix that changes one Registry setting and may be all you need.
Not enough? There are other settings you can tweak. Places to learn more include Navas Cable Modem/DSL Tuning Guide and SpeedGuide.
How do kilobits per second stack up to Kilobytes per second? See the Data Transfer Rate Conversion Table.