Everyone loves to grumble about their slow internet. Therefore, when it comes to choosing the right speed for your household, doing your homework can go a long way.
When you think of internet speed, you might think of the download and upload rates advertised by service providers. Those numbers are significant, but they do not tell the whole story when it comes to your experience with an internet service.
In today’s digital world, a reliable high-speed internet connection is essential. It is not easy to be productive at work or school without it, and online entertainment has become a favorite way to pass the time in our downtime.
Let’s face it: if you’re a cord-cutter or have a home-based business, you need fast internet. Therefore, it is ideal to have the speed that can handle your bandwidth needs without being bogged down by buffering—an additional feature that connects multiple users and their devices simultaneously.
Here’s a detailed guide on everything you need to know about your current internet speed, the speed you need, and how to choose an internet service provider (ISP) that gives you the most value for your money. So let us dive right in.
How do You Know if You Need to Upgrade Your Internet Speed?
The amount of internet speed you need for your household depends on the number of people who regularly use the connection, what activities they prefer, and how many devices they use at once.
For example, if you’re a family of three with a connection of four smart TVs, one gaming console, three laptops, and two tablets, then the requirement of your internet speed is undoubtedly on the higher side. Whereas, if you were using the internet via your phone, you could easily survive on a 4G/5G connection.
Why Does Internet Speed Matter?
We are constantly streaming videos or music online, playing games with people far away, downloading files, and communicating with others via voice and text chat in our connected world. It would be best if you had faster speeds for these activities than for basic web browsing or emailing; the more devices you have in use at the same time, the quicker your connection needs to be.
What Factors Affect Internet Speeds?
The most important factor affecting your internet speed is how much bandwidth you signed up for compared to what you are getting. If you are paying for high-speed service but receiving lower speed from your ISP, get in touch with your ISP to convey your concern. Here are some of the things that could be affecting your speed:
Network traffic: If you are connected through a router many people use (e.g., at work or school), you can expect slower speeds since everyone uses the same connection.
Distance from the server: The further away from the server, the longer it takes to send and receive information. Some locations may have better connections than others within cities due to infrastructure (e.g., cables or equipment) limitations.
Wi-Fi interference: Wireless devices like phones and microwaves work on the same frequency as Wi-Fi routers, which can cause interference that slows down connectivity.
Useful Terms to Know
Bandwidth: The total amount of data transferred during a given period, usually calculated as a bitrate in kilobits or megabits per second. The greater an Internet connection’s bandwidth, the more data can be transferred simultaneously.
Broadband: It is a high-speed internet connection that is always on and faster than old-fashioned dial-up service. It can be delivered by several technologies, including DSL, cable, fiber optic, and satellite. You can request a detailed overview of the broadband connections offered at Cox internet by calling 1-855-349-9316 or visiting their website.
Bit: The basic unit of measurement for information in computing and digital communications. A bit can have only one of two values: zero or one — which are usually represented by off/on, yes/no, or true/false. Eight bits make up a byte, but bytes are typically used to measure storage and processing power rather than transmission capacity.
Byte: The byte is a measure 1 byte equals 8 bits. It is commonly used to describe storage capacity and file sizes.
Latency: Sometimes called “lag,” it is the time taken for data to travel from your device or computer to the server and back. It is commonly measured in milliseconds (ms) and can be compared to the concept of ping time in online gaming; it measures how much time it takes for a message to travel between two points. The higher the number, the more lag you experience when using the internet.
Mbps: Megabits per second. A unit of measurement used to measure and define data transfer speed on computers and networks. One megabit per second (Mbit/s) equals 1,000,000 bits per second, while one Mbps equals 8,000,000 bits per second. Mbps is often used as an abbreviation for Megabytes per Second, meaning something capable of transferring 1 million bytes (or 8 million bits) at a time.
Modem: A modem connects your computer or another device to the internet so you can browse online and access websites. Modems come in many different types, including cable modems, DSL modems, and satellite
Up: Upload (“up”) speed is the opposite of download speeds — it is how fast you send data from your devices to the internet. Upload speed is essential for sending big files and sharing information online, but it is not critical for everyday browsing and emailing.
Ping time: How quickly a data request is sent and received between your computer and an internet server.
Jitter: Ping times vary, causing choppy connections such as video calls and gaming.
Internet Speed Fluctuations
If you wish to run a speed test to see whether you are getting the internet speed you are subscribed to, make sure you run the test at multiple times of the day. The time of day can impact your results because there is more congestion on the network during peak working hours as compared to non-working hours. Here are the most common types of internet connections and what their typical speeds could look like:
It speeds up to 56 Kbps and is relatively slower than other forms of internet access.
Speeds up to 15 Mbps download and 2 Mbps upload. Satellite connections are widely available but can be slower than DSL or cable in some cases.
- DSL (digital subscriber line)
Speeds between 128 Kbps and more than 25 Mbps download, depending on the distance from the providers’ office. DSL is widely available but only offers rates comparable to the cable modem in some areas.
Speeds between 3 Mbps and more than 1 gigabit per second (Gbps). Cable internet generally offers faster service than DSL, but availability varies widely depending on where you live.
Fiber optic internet uses fiber-optic cables made of glass to transmit data quickly. Fiber is available to about 25% of Americans and offers the fastest download speeds.
Here are the things you need to know about internet speeds:
All broadband connections are created uniquely. Broadband is a general term that refers to any high-speed internet connection. Mbps are often used as a standard measurement when defining an internet connection’s speed. However, not all broadband connections offer the same service quality, which can often be challenging to compare one provider’s plans against another.
Your connection is not always as fast as its name implies. If you look at advertisements or promotional materials from an ISP, they will likely list the fastest speeds available in your area without mentioning slower options (that they also offer). So when shopping for the best deal, make sure to compare apples to apples by looking at the download and upload speeds provided by each plan.
Windstream internet lets you compare plans so you can choose the amount of Mbps ideal for your consumption. And the best part, there is no data cap or overage fee.
What are Download and Upload Speeds?
There are two main types of internet speed:
- Download Speed
Downloading refers to receiving data, such as loading a web page or downloading a photo that your friend sent you.
- Upload Speed
Uploading refers to sending out data, such as uploading an image to Instagram or sending a file via email.
Depending on your needs, you might need faster download speeds than upload speeds. For example, if you are connecting to the internet to browse the web and send emails, you do not need breakneck upload speeds.
Likewise, if you have a large family and multiple people are using the same connection, your internet speed must match the load. Cox internet offers a variety of internet plans that you can choose from according to your family size.
Internet speed is measured in Mbps, which means the amount of data transmitted in one second. Your ISP determines how much speed it can deliver in your area. The farther away from the ISP’s servers, the slower your connection is; this is a concept called latency described in more detail below.
Download speeds measure how quickly you can load data from the internet onto your devices. Upload speeds indicate how fast you can send data to the internet (attaching a big picture or video file to an email). Having fast download and upload speeds is essential for streaming HD content, gaming, video calling, and uploading large files.
What’s the Ideal Bandwidth for You?
The requirement for your internet speeds depends entirely on your usage. Just remember that these speeds are based on each device’s consumption. Therefore, if you have numerous devices online at a time, you might need a faster plan.
The amount of bandwidth you need depends on how the internet is used. For example, to calculate the amount of data used when three devices are streaming simultaneously, add the amount of data used by each video. It will give you a clearer idea of your consumption.
The amount of data consumed can be a great indicator when shopping for internet plans. You can ask the ISP to customize it according to your needs. Windstream internet understands the importance of having a reliable internet connection. Each plan is designed to offer you great value for money and top-notch quality in service.
Let’s look at an example; if you have one device that streams 4K video and another that streams standard-definition video using Netflix, both activities require a minimum of 25 Mbps at peak performance. That adds up to 50 Mbps total. And, of course, you can have additional downloads, so choose wisely.
Here is a little insight into streaming and gaming:
How much you enjoy streaming depends on the quality of your connection. If you are trying to stream HD or 4K videos, for instance, or play online games, you will want faster speeds than someone who uses email and basic web browsing.
Things are a bit different for gaming because the quality of your playtime relies less on your internet speed and more on your ping or latency. For gaming purposes, latency is measured in ms. so having a low ping is especially important if you are playing competitively online where every second counts. One way to improve your ping is by having a higher download speed, but it also depends on where the game server is located and how many people are using the network at one time.
How to Check Wi-Fi Speed?
It is relatively easy to test internet speed using online tests. You can also use relevant apps on your smartphone. However, for more accurate results, you should connect a laptop directly to the router with an Ethernet cable and then perform the tests on that device. It rules out any interference from other devices in your home.
If you want a Wi-Fi connection and do not know how fast it is, the best way is to use free apps available to download on your devices. They tell you the connection speed between your computer or phone and the wireless router and can help identify any problems it might be facing.
How do You Speed Up Your Home Wi-Fi?
There are different ways to speed up your Wi-Fi connection. Some ways require more effort than others. Here is what you can try at home:
- Update your Router’s Firmware
Update your router’s firmware to the latest version. If you do not know how to update your router manually, check with your service provider or manufacturer.
- Use a New Wi-Fi Channel
Use a new Wi-Fi channel instead of letting your router automatically select one for you. Next, reset your modem or router by unplugging them for 10 seconds, then plugging them back in again. It will reset any settings that might be causing problems with your connection.
If your ISP is not reliable enough, it will ruin your whole experience. However, with technology progressing as rampantly as it is, there are many options to choose from without compromising on quality.
The average American home broadband speed now clocks in at 96.25 Mbps, up by 34% from last year. That is fast enough to stream four Netflix movies simultaneously on four different screens in HD or download an entire TV season in about three minutes.
While that is a step up from the days of dial-up, it is not all that impressive compared with what is available elsewhere in the world. For example, South Korean households enjoy nearly four times the average U.S. speed and pay just $27 a month for it.
We hope that our guide helped you understand everything you need to know about internet speeds. And hope you can deploy the knowledge practically in your daily life.