Internet speed tests are an easy way to know if your internet service provider (ISP) is reliable. There are, of course, other factors at play that can affect your internet speed, but if you signed a contract for high-speed fibre internet and consistently have to wait for videos and webpages to load, then your ISP may not be delivering on its promises.
Internet speed is measured in megabytes per second (Mbps). A reasonable internet speed for a small household is between 10 Mbps and 20 Mbps. When signing up with an ISP, it is important to look at their wording when they describe their speeds.
Most ISPs will promise speeds of “up to… [a maximum speed].” So you might think you are paying for 10 Mbps but actually you only get up to 10 Mbps. While this is fairly standard wording that ISPs use, if your internet speed is consistently well below the advertised speed, then there may be something untoward at play.
How can I do an internet speed test?
Internet speed tests will give you a snapshot into the speed of your connection at any given moment. Within a few moments, a speed test tells you what your download and upload speeds are. You can simply type “internet speed test” into your search engine, or use this one here. It is possible to do an internet speed test on any device that has a web-browser, such as a smartphone, laptop or tablet.
For an accurate result, it is best to plug your laptop or computer directly into your router using an ethernet cable. Internet speeds with wireless connections are slower than speeds with a hardwired connection. Your internet speed slows down when data is transmitted through WiFi.
Are all internet speed tests the same?
While all internet speed tests give pretty much the same type of information, not all of them are accurate. If the internet speed test uses a server that isn’t close to where you are located, then the test will come back with a lower speed. This is because the data has to travel farther to the server and back again. A good internet speed test automatically chooses the server closest to you.
Why is my internet speed inconsistent?
If you are experiencing fluctuating speeds, regular testing will reveal if there is a pattern. Perform an internet speed test at different times of the day. Do you typically have slower speeds on specific days or at specific times?
If you are experiencing slower speeds at peak times (e.g. evenings and weekends), this probably means you are using a contended line. Contended lines are shared among different customers, resulting in slower speeds when more users are connected. This is a way for ISPs to save money and you should definitely consider changing to a more reputable provider, such as WonderNet, who doesn’t have contended lines.
Another money saving trick used by some ISPs is to throttle your line. This means that after you’ve used up a certain amount of data, your ISP will reduce your speed for the remainder of the month. Again, this is something to look out for in the fine print before signing a contract. With a provider like WonderNet, you can expect to have the same speeds throughout the month, no matter how much time you spend online.
We can’t always blame ISPs for inconsistent speeds. If your connection is generally stable, but then suddenly drop for a few days, it could be that there is a bigger infrastructure problem at hand. South Africa has a number of subsea fibre optic cables that connect the country to fibre internet. If one or more of these cables experiences a fault, it can affect internet speeds until technicians have had a chance to investigate and resolve the issue.
How can I improve my internet speed?
There are a few reasons why your actual internet speeds could be slower than advertised. The placement of your router is important. Try moving your router around your home or office to see whether you get faster speeds from a different new position. Make sure your device is close enough to the router so that it is within WiFi range. If your signal needs to travel through walls and go upstairs, then consider getting a WiFi extender so that all parts of your home or office receive decent signal.
Another way to improve internet speeds is to perform an antivirus or antimalware scan. When viruses or malware infect our devices, they can set up a hidden connection to the internet and use up bandwidth with applications running in the background. We might not even know this is happening. Sluggest internet could have to do with a virus. A healthy device generally enjoys faster speeds than an infected one.
If your router and device are all in optimal shape and you are still unhappy with your internet speeds, then it might be time for an internet upgrade. We’ve become a lot more data hungry and every few years households grow by a device or two. While a 10 Mbps line would suffice a few years ago, it probably isn’t going to cut it in most modern households. Small businesses are also becoming a lot more reliant on the internet and it is necessary to upgrade their package every so often.
What internet speed do I need?
The speed you need depends on what you use the internet for. A student doing research online can make do with a 5 to 25 Mbps line, depending on the size of the documents they are uploading and downloading. A home office for one or two people doing video conference calls needs a connection speed of around 40 Mbps. Similarly, for someone who is serious about online gaming, a 40 Mbps line would be ideal. A casual internet user who just goes online for a bit of web-browsing and social media needs a connection speed between 1 Mbps and 10 Mbps.
At WonderNet, we offer different packages based on your needs. All our internet lines are uncontented and unthrottled. This means you can expect to have stable internet speeds every day throughout the month, no matter how much time you spend online.
Of course, there are things you can do to boost your speeds at home, such as thinking about router placement, WiFi boosters and antivirus scans. For more information about our fibre offerings or to get a quote for an internet upgrade, please contact us today or check if we’re connected to your address.