How to Read a Speed Test

You’re maybe wondering why in the world I’d take the time to explain how to read a speed test, but it actually is a little more complicated than you might think.

Now, I know, at the end of the day, you just want things to work the way you want them to work, but if we’re going to get to the cause of your slow internet, we need to figure out if your internet is actually slow because of usage or a problem.

So, what’s the best way to run a speed test and what do the numbers mean? Let’s go through it:

Step one: Plug your computer into your router. I know, most of our devices are connected via Wi-Fi, but you have to remember, it’s your provider’s job to provide you with a reliable WAN (Wide Area Network) connection. If you’re being sold 25MB you should be able to test at your modem pretty close to 25MB. There are many factors that may cause a Wi-Fi speed test to show less than your full subscription rate. So, plug something in for the most reliable test.

Step two: Close every other program on your computer and open a browser to pick a speed test. If you’re streaming music or videos or downloading pictures or uploading files during a speed test, it’ll skew the results. There are lots of speed tests out there but the most common one is speedtest.net. Once there, you’ll see the main test screen.

Step three: Select your testing server. Speedtest will select a server based on some metrics, but it’s sometimes to your benefit to force a different selection. If your provider hosts a speed test, you can reliably test your connection from your home to your provider using their speed test. If you want to test your connection elsewhere in the country, you can do that as well by selecting another location to test. To really get a feel for your connection to your provider, pick your provider’s test server.

Step four: interpret the results

speed test screen

Speedtest.net is going to show you a metric for ping, download speed, and upload speed. In this instance my ping was returned in 1ms, or 1 millisecond. That’s the time it took for me to send a packet of data to the speed test server and get it back. 1ms is the best you can get. I’m on a 100Mb connection and, at the time of this test, I’m showing 93.61Mb down and 92.85Mb up. I’m happy with that result. So, I know that if I can wire a device in and test my connection, I’m getting what I’m paying for. What if I speed test off my phone?

On my phone, I’ve downloaded the speedtest.net app. I’ll run the same test and post the result below:

That’s a completely different result and there could be numerous reasons for the slower test on my phone via Wi-Fi. It could be how far I am from my router, interference with other Wi-Fi networks, other devices in my home or office that are actively using Wi-Fi bandwidth, etc. But if this was the only test I’d done, I might assume that I’m only getting 30Mb of the 100Mb I’m paying my provider for.

Your provider can help you troubleshoot your LAN issues and possibly increase the speed of your Wi-Fi. But remember, our first test today showed that the WAN connection, the one my provider’s responsible for, was good. My LAN connection might need some work, and that’s on me.

For more tips on internet speed or troubleshooting, give our customer service team a call. We’re here to help you get the most out of your internet service so you can stay connected.

Brian Crommett
CEO
702 Communications

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