Our children will never appreciate the handshake of a 300 baud modem. The thought of transferring anything at 1200 baud is unthinkable even if we invoke the sacred z-modem. Now-a-days you are more likely to talk about megabits per second (a data rate) instead of baud (a symbol rate).
I find it amazing how our data communications have increased in such a short time. We used to drool over a T-1 connection (1.544Mbit/s). Since only businesses could afford such luxuries, people would plan weekend gaming sessions at their work place or stay late to download and surf in ways that the average home user could only dream possible. Now, your cable connection is likely faster than a T-1. Comcast advertises 6Mbit/s standard with 8Mbit/s for some extra money and is currently testing 16Mbit/s in Richmond, VA. The near future promises even better (28Mbit/s)!
What is your speed? Online testing services such as http://www.testmy.net/ and http://bandwidthplace.com/ can help you see if you are up to snuff. Your internal networking equipment can cause slowdowns so by-pass your router, hubs and other gear by plugging your computer directly into your cable or dsl modem when speed checking. You may need to power cycle the modem after connecting directly. http://broadbandreports.com/ (aka DSL Reports) is a fantastic resource when troubleshooting or investigating network speeds.
Your system software can influence speed. Tools like SG TCP Optimizer can greatly improve your Internet connection by adjusting network settings you may not even know exist.