Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) compete viciously for your business.    Each has created a service that has built in Internet download and uploads speeds.  Some advertising makes a big deal of this speed.   The real question though is how much do you need?

Internet speeds are measured using two main parameters:  download speed and upload speed.  Download speed relates to the rate at which a website loads or a movie downloads to your pc.  Conversely, upload speed is related to what you upload.   Most of our Internet life is spent downloading “stuff”.   Accordingly, the ISPs focus on download speed.  If you’re favorite website takes a long time to load or if you’re You Tube videos hesitate and pause (due to buffering), your Internet speed may be too slow.

I have a friend who has told me that her Internet service is terrible.  I experienced it first hand when I was viewing the near west Chicago loop on Google Maps.  As I zoomed in, the picture stop loading.  After a refresh it came back partially.  It seemed to freeze. Then it was OK.  It was anything but OK.  Being the Joliet_Tech (my username on many user forums) and always wanting to help out, I decided to check the connection speed.  Enter Ookla’s Speed Test.

Ookla’s Speed Test (http://www.speedtest.net/ ) is a free network connectivity tool.  It will measure the download and upload speeds of your connection.  Although the tool is very easy to use, it also has features that can allow a more detailed investigation of network connectivity.

I launched Speed Test and hit Begin.    A minute later, I was shocked to see that her download and upload speeds were 3.6 Mbps1 and 0.6 Mbps respectively.  For a densely populated suburb of Chicago, this is totally unacceptable.  I ran the test again and confirmed the first set of numbers.

I next called the ISP and asked if there was anything that could be done to improve these speeds.  From my experience, I know that the download speed needs to be around 6Mbps or higher to avoid the transmission delays – websites will time-out and stop loading if it takes too long to transmit the page data.   The technician at the other end of the phone acknowledged my issue and asked me to hold.  In less than five minutes he came back on line and informed me that he had made a change and it should now be quite a bit better.  I ran the Speed Test again and found that my speed was almost 10 Mbps – about a 3x improvement.   I went back to my map and noticed that I was at least now able to see it as it had been intended.

As competitive as the Internet services are, no ISP wants to lose business.  Additionally, the technology is always changing and it isn’t hard to imagine that sometimes your service just doesn’t get updated first like YOU think it should be.    I recommend that you regularly run Speed Test and record your results.  If your speed is much below 6Mbps, give your ISP a call.

To be fair, many ISPs also have their own speed measuring tools.  An Internet search for “check my internet speed” will provide these tools.   Using multiple tools will also assure that the tool is not part of the problem.  These tools measure JUST the Internet speed.  Your local area network (LAN) speed is most likely at 100Mbps or higher if wired and should be at least 25Mbps if using an OLD wireless network device – new wireless devices can reach 1000 Mbps or more.

If you would like more information on validating your internet speed, please give us a call at Triskelion Inc., 815.510.7045

1 Mbps = mega-bits per second = millions of bits per second

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