Let’s understand in-depth as to what your internet speed test download result means. Your download speed is a measure of the throughput of your internet connection. It determines how many units of information are being transmitted to your device in a specific amount of time. Data on computers is in binary language. At the core of Boolean logic rests the idea that all values are either true or false and when applied to computer functions the Boolean logic results in making only two integers i.e. 0 and 1, the sole basis on which the system runs.
The decimal, or base-10 system, can be converted to binary; it can be employed to control the circuits in your electronic devices and computers by instructing the electrical signal, which controls the semiconducting transistors (and there are approximately 1 billion of these transistors in a Core i7 microprocessor!), to turn electric current off (0) or on (1). Believe it or not, everything on your electronic devices, including your social media videos, mobile games, emails, and the rest, is just a bunch of binary digits controlling what’s happening on the screen, and all other functions of your device, really, really, fast.
A single binary value of 0 or 1 makes a bit . There are 8 bits in a byte. Due to the base-2 system, 28 gets you 256 possible decimal values. A byte is capable of displaying a character on your screen, for example the letter “j”. Essentially speaking, a byte is a standard of defining online data volume.
8 bits (b) Byte (B)
1024 bytes Kilobyte (KB)
1024 KB Megabyte (MB)
1024 MB Gigabyte (GB)
1024 GB Terabyte (TB)
It is important to remember the difference between a bit (b) and a byte (B). Internet plans are advertised in Mbps (Megabits per second) or Gbps (Gigabits per second). A 100 Mbps internet plan means your maximum download speed is 12.5 MBps (1 Mbps = 1/8 MBps).
So, a 3 GB file will take approximately 4 minutes to download on a 100 Mbps internet connection that is delivering maximum speed.
Converting 3 GB to MB, Maximum download speed in MBps (1/8 of 100 Mbps):
(3*1024)÷12.5 =245.76 seconds
Converting seconds to minutes:
245.76 seconds÷60=4.096 minutes
Hopefully now you have a good idea of what your download speed signifies with respect to how you use the internet every day.
But my internet speed test result shows slower download speed than I am subscribed to!
According to Federal Communications Commission research, the best internet service providers in the United States deliver at least 90% of the advertised speed at least during 80% of peak time usage. So, if your speed test result during the evening hours isn’t close to your advertised speed, you should refer to the “Improve Your Internet Speed” section.
Your internet connection’s upload speed is the amount of data in megabits that it can send in one second. Most residential users of broadband internet use the downlink of their internet connection far more than the uplink.
Before we get to what type of data is uploaded when you use the internet, let’s briefly discuss how data is uploaded over the internet. The World Wide Web is based on Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) Model. It has 7 layers:
- Physical: Coaxial cables, fiber, wireless, hubs, repeaters
- Data Link: Determines the type of data on the network
- Network Layer: Determines the physical path of the data on the network
- Transport Layer: Carries out the movement of data in packets. There’re two types of transfers - Transmission Control Protocol (checks for errors in transmission), and User Datagram Protocol (no transmission error check)
- Session Layer: Controls the communication endpoints, called ports. Also controls when communication starts and ends.
- Presentation Layer: Ensures data readability, data decryption/encryption takes place.
- Application Layer: The human-computer interaction layer. For example, Domain Name Service (the URLs you type).
Each time you are browsing online or using an app, generally there is some user data collected to enhance your experience and deliver relevant content. Let’s discuss what data is commonly uploaded during browsing or using apps:
IP Address: An internet protocol address is assigned to each device connected to the internet. It is a numerical number which is like a physical address of a house which helps the courier services deliver packages. Similarly, you upload your IP address to websites and applications. It is in the network layer of the protocol. It determines which device a particular data packet should be sent to.
Operating System: To deliver the most optimized online experience, websites will ask your browser for information about the operating system you’re using: Windows, Mac OS, or Linux. Mobile browsers let websites know whether you’re using Android, iOS, or another operating system.
Cookies: These are tiny files which contain information about your browsing activity and help customize your online experience. Your login/password details may be saved in Cookies. A transient Cookie exists only for the duration of your session and is erased after you are inactive for a while or close the browser. On the other hand, persistent Cookies are used to upload information which is personally identifiable.
These uploads require hardly any data transfer, due to the small size of the data transferred. This is why most residential high-speed internet users don’t require upload speeds as high as the download speed. However, some applications of the internet do require a large amount of data transfer:
- HD video uploads
- High resolution picture uploads
- Database software
- Graphics software
- Online gaming
There may be other types of uploads too, which are bandwidth intensive.
Finally, your upload speed is affected by whether or not your download and upload speeds are the same.
Symmetric internet connection: This is an internet connection which furnishes equal download and upload speeds. For example, 50 Mbps download and 50 Mbps upload. This type of an internet connection is usually built on fiber optic lines.
Asymmetric internet connection: This is the more common type of internet connection. The download speed is more than the upload speed (very rarely it’s the other way around). Most internet service providers in the US offer asymmetric internet connections. An example is a 30 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload internet connection.
An accurate internet speed test will help you determine your upload speed to a tee.