We all pay a lot of money for our internet access and blazing fast internet speeds. What’s worse is a vast majority do not check to see if they are getting the speeds they pay for. The reason being is most users will not realize they have an issue because the internet just works when browsing the web. People will take notice when trying to watch YouTube or Netflix and they get stuck buffering more. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have instilled “heavy usage” hours that most people will write of issues as that. You should not do that and you should always ensure that you are getting what you pay for.
Testing Internet Speeds Is Not Hard
One of the first things you need to do when testing is check your bill and see what you are speed package you are paying for. Most ISPs will also state that your package are for “speeds up to XYZ Mbps.” This gives ISPs some wiggle room on the speeds they provide to you. Typically, most ISPs will state that 20% speed difference is normal, especially during peak hours. Once you know the speeds your are paying for, you can now run some tests to ensure you do get those speeds. For this article, we will assume you are paying for speeds up to 150 Mbps.
When testing your internet speeds it is best you use a desktop or laptop with a wired connection. Most modern day desktops and laptops will have a gigabit connection. You will want to also check that your router supports a gigabit connection as well, which most modern day routers do. It is best to consult your owners manual for both devices you use during your tests. If you do have to test via wireless, make sure your router supports wireless-ac and that your wireless device supports that connection type too. Wireless-n devices speeds tests are not reliable for internet speeds over 150 Mbps, because they only support up to that speed.
Why is Your Connection Slow?
There are several factors that could impact your internet speeds. Maybe your router does not support gigabit speeds? The wire for your network is bad? Your ISP truly has some network congestion? The speed test website is having issues? The point of all this testing is to attempt to find slow spots in your network and to see if they stay constant or only occur during certain times / days of the week.
Point and case would be if you are paying for up to 150Mbps and your speed test results are showing you are only get around 80Mbps, then there is a problem. And you need to address it with your ISP, especially when you are paying a small fortune for speeds than that.
At this moment, let us assume you are currently getting speed test results close to what you pay for. A week later your speed tests start to change.
How to Use Your Test Results
You should do weekly speed checks for your network to ensure you are always getting what you pay for. There is nothing worse then not getting your money’s worth.
After a speed test, compare it to what your ISP’s plan states you should be getting. Is it with in 20% of that speed? If you are paying for 150Mbps, your 20% margin is 120-150Mbps. If your speed test results are within that range, then that is considered normal. Note this in a report that you keep. Now you can perform the same type of test again in about a week or so, and note any changes. When you do see come noticeable drops in speed, think about the following items to help troubleshoot:
- Do you get the same speed results with other devices? This questions assumes you are using devices that can connect to the internet at speeds faster than what your ISP can provide.
- Are the slower speeds constant throughout the day?
- Have you reset to the modem? or The router? Resetting one or both can improve speeds, but not always.
- If your modem is a separate device, attempt to do a speed test while directly connected to it, bypassing the router. If the speeds do not improve, the issue is definitely not with your home network.
- Call your ISP and have them do some testing from their end. Compare their results to yours.
If you determine the fault is with your ISP. Give them a call and talk to them about your findings. One thing that goes a long way is to remain calm and be respectful about it. Screaming and yelling will get you nowhere. Ask them how they are going to help resolve the issue for you. Maybe they have an area wide issue? The line from the tap to your modem is bad? There are several factors that could cause the issue, but a tech on site or over the phone should help track that down. Remember, the data you have collected from your speed tests can go a long way. Never just talk about one speed test, always include several speed tests from more than one day.
Now, if the speed problem is on your end, troubleshooting can be easy or difficult. The difficult depends on you and your knowledge of the devices and equipment that makes up your network. Maybe the modem is old or does not have the rating to handle the speed your ISP provides. If that is the case, you will need to purchase a new modem. Maybe a network cable in your home is bad? Sometimes a firmware update for your router will resolve the issue.
In the end, you do not want to waste money on your internet service if your ISP is not providing you with the speeds you pay for. Troubleshooting is never a fun task, but wasting money is not fun either. Many people do not pay attention to their internet speeds, just as long as “it just works.” Do not be one of those people, and always ensure you are getting the performance you are paying for.