What is an internet speed test?
Internet speed test on computer screen

An internet speed test can be used to determine the speed and quality of your connection. There are many sites that perform speed tests, but no matter which one you use, they all perform the same tasks. Multiple tests are run at the same time, which analyze various aspects of the internet connection.

The three most common metrics to be analyzed are upload speed, download speed and ping. Some speed tests also look at something called jitter. But what do these all mean? The following points highlight the nature of each test:

  • Download speed – The speed at which your device can receive data from the internet, denoted in units of data (usually Megabits) per second.
  • Upload speed – The speed at which your device can send data to the internet, also denoted in units of data per second.
  • Ping – The ping (or latency) tests the delay of a signal from the time it is sent to the time it is received. This is essentially the time it takes for a pocket to data to complete its trip across the network. It is denoted in time (usually milliseconds).
  • Jitter – This is the variation in latency, caused by delays in the sending of data. The longer a data packet takes to arrive at its destination, the more jitter. This is a good indication of the quality of audio and video data that can be transferred over the network.  

How an internet speed test works

To test the download speed, your device will open multiple connections to the internet and start to download a data file through all of these connections. This utilises the entire bandwidth of the connection, which means that the maximum data throughput can be measured. When assessed with the time taken, the result gives you the download speed for a packet of data.

The upload test is the reverse process. Multiple connections are opened to the internet, but instead of downloading a file, the device creates a file of random data that is pushed through all connections to the server. This utilises all the bandwidth and ensures that maximum throughput is measured. The time taken to perform this action is recorded, which gives the upload speed.

During the ping test, your device will send a small packet of data over the network to a server. Once the server receives the data, it will send it back to your device, completing a roundtrip across the network. The time taken is called latency or ping. For a more accurate result, your device will perform multiple ping tests simultaneously and average the times taken.

The results for all of these metrics determine the overall performance of your internet connection. This enables you to see whether you are getting what you pay for from your internet service provider (ISP), as well as determine what sort of programmes and applications you can run without any lag or connection overloads. For more information about our offerings or to get a quote for a fibre upgrade to your office, please contact us today.

WonderNet brings affordable broadband internet to South African homes. We work alongside leading fibre network providers to maximise our reach and to offer fast, reliable and secure internet connectivity to your home. We are owned by SEACOM; one of Africa’s top information and communications technology (ICT) companies with an expansive network of subsea cables, landlines and fibre connections. WonderNet strives to offer the best customer service in the country. We will go above and beyond to ensure that our customers are satisfied with their internet access.

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