Broadband Speed Test Results Explained
News flash: not understanding your broadband speed test results could be costing you hundreds a year. How? Well, you pay for a certain internet speed every month when you get a plan, but internet providers don't always give you that speed. Speeds vary from hour to hour. And sometimes, you will be getting half the speed your provider advertised. The speeds you experience will also vary by connection type. For instance, DSL internet is often slower than advertised, while cable internet is usually as fast, or even faster, than advertised. Fiber-optic internet is one of the few internet connections that truly offer as advertised speeds due to it's updated transfer technology.
Interpreting your broadband speed test results seems difficult. There are a lot of terms thrown around that you might not understand and a lot of numbers you're probably not sure of. You know that knowing your internet speed is important, though. You just don't know how to interpret it all.
Lucky for you, there are plenty of broadband speed tests to help you monitor your internet speed. Understanding the broadband speed test results are easy too. All you need is this guide.
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Part 1: The Terms
First, you need to understand the information the speed test will give you. Here are some of the common terms used in the broadband speed test:
- Mbps: Short for megabits per second, Mbps shows the speed of an information transfer. A megabit (Mb) is a little over one million bits, so Mbps measures how many millions of data bits are transferred per second. The average American connection speed is 7.4 Mbps.
- Ping (latency): Another term for a delay, a ping can be measured in two ways: the time it takes for a data packet to be sent and returned or the time it takes for a data package to make a one-way trip. The lower the number, the better.
- Packet Loss: When a piece of data fails to reach its destination.
- Jitter: The variability in latency. Some speed tests measure this, but not all.
- Download: How fast information is delivered to your computer.
- Upload: How fast information is transferred from your computer to another location.
Part 2: Checking Your Speed
Now that you know what the tests are talking about, you can take a broadband speed test. There are a lot of speed tests out there, some of which are reliable, some not so much. Our frequented test is speedtest.net.
In addition to knowing what speeds you're getting with your internet connection at home, you'll also want to know how fast your connection is on your mobile device. Mobile plans aren't cheap, so you'll want to ensure that you're getting the most bang for your buck. A reliable test for mobile devices is available through fcc.gov.
This broadband speed test results site measures your ping capabilities, download speed, and upload speed. You can also map your results over time, so you can figure out your average and compare it to the rest of the globe. It is maintained by Ookla, which is a global leader in broadband testing and web-based network diagnostic applications.
FCC Mobile App
The FCC's consumer app is a great place to check your mobile broadband speed. Though it does collect speed data for the government, this test has the reliability of a government agency behind it. If your data is incorrect, so is theirs. Like speedtest.net, the FCC's mobile app maps out your speeds, so you know if you are truly getting the speed you paid for. It shows upload and download speed, latency, and packet loss.
Keep in mind: your broadband speeds might not always be equal to advertised speeds because of the channels the data has to go through. Data from the internet has to travel through switches, servers, links, and routers before it can be displayed to you on your monitor, so the internet service provider in your area might not be the reason for slow speeds. For example, if you have an old router, that might be to blame for your slow connection.
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Another pointer: different speed tests give different results because they each use a different methodology. While one test might say 7 Mbps, another might say you're running at 5.5 Mbps. Choose a speed test you like and stick with it to get accurate results on any peaks or drops in your internet speed.
Broadband speed test results can be confusing, alarming, and even occasionally inaccurate. To know your true internet speeds, you need to find a reliable internet speed test and know the terminology behind it.