Cassie Tolhurst | September 6, 2018
How Fast Is Fast Enough for Your Internet Needs?
Speed is the watchword in the world of internet service providers (ISPs). It’s common to see advertisements for packages that promise “speeds up to 20 Mbps,” but what does that even mean? And how much speed do you really need?
Internet speed tests easily determine how fast your current connection is in terms of download speed, upload speed, and network latency; you can see if you’re connecting as fast as your ISP promised and compare the results to accepted standards that show how much speed is needed for different types of online activity.
Below, we tell you how to check your internet speed, make sense of your test results, and take steps to enhance your performance if it’s not meeting your needs.
Take a Snapshot of Your Internet Performance
CenturyLink’s free speed test tool evaluates your service by measuring the following:
- Download speed is the number of megabits per second (Mbps) it takes to transfer online content to your computer or network. For users browsing the web, streaming music, or streaming SD-quality video, a download speed of 1 Mbps is adequate. As the video quality increases, however, it’s wise to invest in a faster service. HD video needs 5 Mbps, full HD with high-definition audio needs 10 Mbps, and ultra HD or 4K video needs 25 Mbps for a clear viewing experience.
- Upload speed measures the time it takes to upload content to the internet. Minimum upload speeds range from 250 Kbps for streaming music to 1 Mbps for online gaming.
- Network latency, or ping, refers to the number of milliseconds it takes for data to travel from one computer to another. The smaller the number, the better the connection—and the less likely you will be to experience delays.
To get the most accurate measure of your service, run a speed test on various devices and at different times of day. It’s not uncommon to see a decrease in speed during “peak hours,” when other users are also accessing the network.
Troubleshoot the Source of Poor Performance
Your ISP can tell you if your equipment is obsolete and if they can upgrade your setup. You can also purchase (instead of rent) a router to lower monthly payments to your provider.
Even the newest router can be affected by interference with the signal from appliances. Place the router close to your working area or TV, and avoid having walls between the router and connected devices.
If you need a boost, a range extender plugs into a wall socket close to your computer or TV and spreads a wireless signal through your home to counter some router interference. You can also invest in a dual band router, which gives you one network at a standard speed of 2.4 GHz and a second network at 5 GHz to optimize your internet’s functionality.
Consult Your ISP for the Best Internet Package for Your Needs
You should also check your network regularly to ensure you’re getting not only the bandwidth performance you’re paying for, but also the bandwidth your household needs.
If your high-speed connection still isn’t strong enough to avoid slowdowns, there’s always fiber internet. This cutting-edge technology offers blazing speeds of 1 Gig, but it isn’t yet available everywhere. Get in touch with CenturyLink to see if it’s brought fiber to your neck of the woods—or to see what other high-speed packages are available.
Now that you know how to read internet speed test results and troubleshoot slowdowns, you can make the most of your web connection and enjoy the things you do online.