With the rise in our reliance on the internet and bandwidth-heavy online activities, it has become exceedingly important to ensure you have a reliable and fast connection that is able to take care of your individual or household needs.
Quite often we subscribe to an internet service provider only to find their “speed promises” remain unfulfilled. Even the best of connections can at times ditch you for valid reasons, but to face lagging internet ever so often calls for attention. If at times you are able to enjoy a seamless connection, while at other times you sit there staring at an online image slowly make its way down the screen—you must make sure if you are getting the speed you are paying for, and also if the speed you are subscribed to is enough for your needs.
For that, you must take a reliable internet speed test and understand what it tells you—this effort will lead you to determine where the problem is: whether it is your service provider or your increased usage of the internet.
Checking your internet speed at home does not involve rocket science. All you need for the purpose is an internet speed test tool. The results displayed will tell you about your download and upload speeds, as well as latency or ping time—some speed test tools will give you an idea of the variation in ping time i.e. jitter as well.
If you are not well versed with the basic internet jargon, you may find it confusing to interpret the results of the internet speed test. To help you out, here is a description of what the key terms are all about—we have tried our best to put this information forward in layman terms.
Download & Upload Speeds
Download speed tells you how fast data transfers from a server or another device connected to the World Wide Web to your device. While the upload speed tells you how fast data is transferred from your device to a server or another device connected to the Web. Both upload and download speeds are measured in Mbps.
What is Mbps?
Internet speed is calculated in ‘bits per second’. You can think of a ‘bit’ as a small piece of data. And, for large amounts of data, we use the term megabits per second (Mbps)—one Megabit consists of a million bits. Let’s say you have a connection that your ISP advertises as 8 Mbps fast. This would imply the connection is able to download data at a rate of 8 Megabits per second. The higher the number of Megabits per second, the faster your download speed. Remember, ISPs worldwide use download speeds to advertise their service plans, upload speeds are usually much lower and rarely mentioned.
What is Latency?
Latency tells you about the lag you face. It refers to the total time that lapses between your device sending out a request for information via the internet and receiving that information. It is also referred to as the ping time—which means the time it takes for the ping from your device to return to you having completed the round trip. Latency is measured in milliseconds. It varies with the physical distance between the destination server and your machine. And, it also depends on the type of connection you are using. If you use the internet for streaming videos and playing games, the latency level of your connection will play a critical role in how seamless your experience is. Ideally speaking the latency level should stay below 100ms—if you get it at 50ms or below, that would be ideal for all purposes.
What is Jitter?
To put it in simple words, the jitter in your connection is the variation in latency—lets say usually you deal with latency at 50ms, but at times the lag gets extended, before dropping down to familiar levels—meaning there are times when you end up waiting for too long for the ping to return. You can also think of the jitter as a “ping spike” or a “stutter” if that helps understand it better. Jitter would not be noticeable if you are simply surfing or reading online, but when streaming or gaming, it can result in interruptions.
In case, the values returned by the internet speed test are in line with your expectations and your ISP’s promises, but you still feel the connection is slow, its time to reassess your speed requirements.
Your internet speed requirements depend upon your usage—both in terms of the total number of connected devices and the kind of activities you perform online. Here is a compilation of the most common online activities and the minimum internet speed required along with the recommended speed that will help you have a seamless experience. Remember these values are based on a single user connected to the internet.
|What Are You Using The Internet for?||What is the Minimum Speed You Need?||What’s the Recommend Speed for You?|
|Emailing||1 Mbps||1 Mbps|
|Browsing the Web||3 Mbps||5 Mbps|
|Browsing the Social Media||3 Mbps||10 Mbps|
|Streaming Videos Online (Standard Quality)||3 Mbps||5 Mbps|
|Streaming Videos Online (High Definition Quality)||5 Mbps||10 Mbps|
|Streaming Videos Online (4K Quality)||25 Mbps||35 Mbps|
|Playing Online Games||3–6 Mbps||25 Mbps|
|Streaming Songs Online(Audio)||1 Mbps||1 Mbps|
|Conducting Online Video Calls (One-on-one Sessions)||1 Mbps||5 Mbps|
|Conducting Online Video Call (Conferencing Sessions)||2 Mbps||10 Mbps|
In case the values returned by your internet speed test show you are not getting what you are paying for, it is time to think. You can either call your ISP and try to reach a resolution to the matter or start exploring other available options. However, it would be prudent to understand what is a good internet speed before you actually set off on a provider hunt.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has set a standard to categorize an internet connection as fast. If your network is able to download data at a speed of 25 Mbps or above, it means you have access to a fast internet connection. Let us take a quick look at internet providers known to deliver fast speeds.
Today, the majority of DSL internet service providers including CenturyLink, AT&T , Windstream, and Frontier Communications have revitalized their copper networks with the newest available technologies. These providers are therefore able to deliver high-speed DSL connections with speeds as fast as 100 Mbps.
Renowned U.S. cable providers such as Mediacom, Spectrum, Xfinityand Cox Communications have also utilized the latest in networking technologies, and are able to provide cable broadband speeds up to 1000 Mbps in some regions—depending on network capacity. On average cable broadband can bring you speeds in the range of 10-500 Mbps. Here it is worth pointing out, these upgraded networks, whether hybrid fiber-copper or hybrid fiber-coaxial, are still in the process of expanding their reach to rural and remote parts of the U.S. So, in these parts of the country, a provider like HughesNet, which is able to deliver satellite internet at 25 Mbps, is automatically considered “fast”. Not only does HughesNet Gen5 internet meet the FCC definition of broadband, but is the most viable choice since dialup and traditional DSL are the only other types of connections available in these areas.
As for ultra-fast internet, fiber optic broadband offers unbeatable symmetrical (equal download & upload) speeds as high as 1000 Mbps—Fiber to the Home connections are able to bring you the most seamless experience, with all kinds of online activities, and any number of users connected to the network.
We hope that after taking our free internet speed test, and exploring your internet usage patterns, you are certain about the range of internet speed you need. If your existing provider is not worth your time and investment, then it may be time to look for a suitable internet service provider—fast or ultra-fast, depending on your unique requirements. Many internet providers offer plans and packages at competitive rates— starting from as low as $24.99 for a 25 Mbps internet connection. Call at 1-855-349-9328 to find out exactly which providers service your address and which offers are available at your address—expert advice from customer service representatives may come in handy in making a wise choice.
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