If you’re tearing your hair out with a slow, unreliable internet connection you firstly need to diagnose the root cause. We tend to use ‘internet’ to cover two different things: broadband and WiFi. However, to diagnose ‘internet’ problems, you need to know which one is the source of the issue. In this article we’ll cover how to test internet speed on your broadband and WiFi. This will help you to take the appropriate next steps to fix your slow internet issues.
How to test your internet speed
Time needed: 5 minutes
These are quick and simple checks you can do to test internet speed in your office or home:
- Check what your broadband connection speed should be
Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) will tell you what speed to expect when you sign up with them. (This is usually an ‘up to’ figure, so your actual connection speed may be less than the maximum advertised for your specific package.) Check your paperwork or portal logon from your ISP to find out what your connection speed should be.
- Check what speed you are actually getting from your broadband
To test broadband speed, connect an internet-enabled device (e.g. laptop or desktop computer) to your router with a cable. Go to a speed testing website (e.g. https://broadbandtest.which.co.uk/) and follow the instructions. The most important number is the download speed. This will tell you the actual broadband speed you have available to download data for streaming, downloading media and documents, web browsing, etc. If this is significantly less than your ISP’s advertised speed, get in touch with them as there may be a problem with your line.
- If your broadband speed is good, check your WiFi connection speed
To test WiFi speed, run the test above on an internet-enabled device which uses WiFi (e.g. tablet or smart phone). If the connection speed is much slower than you saw on the device connected by cable, then your WiFi is the problem.
What do the numbers in an internet speed test mean?
ISP’s advertise connection speeds in Megabits per second, usually abbreviated to Mbps or Mb or Mb/s. Typical broadband speeds are currently around 10Mbps for a basic broadband connection and up to 70 Mbps for a fibre connection. (These speeds are improving as broadband technology advances and new infrastructure is rolled out. Some providers are already offering G.Fast Ultrafast fibre with 100Mbps+ speeds and even as fast as up to 330 Mbps.)
This shouldn’t be confused with MBps – Megabytes per second; or MB – Megabytes. A Megabit is 1/8 the size of a Megabyte. (So in order to download 1 MB of data in 1 second you would need a connection of 8 Mbps.)
Confused? The main thing you’re looking for is that the connection speed in Mbps that you’re expecting from your ISP, is what you’re actually getting on your internet devices.
Fixing slow internet – next steps
You’ve run the above checks to test your broadband speed and your wireless speed. Now what?
As mentioned in step 2, if it looks like there’s an issue with your line you need to speak to your ISP. If they can’t resolve the issue remotely you’ll probably need a visit from a phone engineer.
However, if the cause of your internet problems is your WiFi, your ISP may not be much help. In fact, the standard response will probably be to sell you a router upgrade and/or wireless boosters. Some providers will even give you a free extender or booster.
This is effectively a ‘run along and stop bothering me’ solution, designed to get you off the phone. You got something for free and the person on the phone said it would work, so it must work – right?
If you’re lucky it could improve things. But if it doesn’t, you need a proper, dedicated WiFi solution to get a good wireless internet connection where you need it. This could be using wireless access points connected to your router using cabling, or a wireless mesh system.
Get help improving wireless internet speed
If you’ve done a WiFi speed test and need to improve things, we can help. For customers in the Bristol and Bath area we offer a free WiFi survey to find your ideal WiFi solution. No more slow internet, buffering, dead zones and signal drop-outs.
Contact us today to start your path to stress-free streaming, conferencing and surfing!