Why Your Speed Test Might Receive a Low Score
In today’s fast-paced world, quick internet connections aren’t just a luxury — they’re a necessary part of our daily lives. Speed tests are a popular way of ensuring you are getting the maximum speed from your broadband connection.
While the information obtained from a speed test is useful, it’s important to understand what the numbers mean … and how different factors can affect your results.
Speed Tests Measure Data Movement
Speed tests measure the network bandwidth and speed of your connection by calculating the time it takes data to move. Golden West speed tests measure the following variables:
- Download speed. Download speed is the time it takes for your web connection to retrieve data from the server. This is measured in megabits per second (Mbps). Most of our online activities involve downloading information from the internet to our devices (e.g., streaming, reading articles, scrolling through social media feeds).
- Upload speed. Upload speed is the time it takes for your connection to send data back to the server. This is also measured in Mbps. Interactive activities such as video conferencing, gaming, and posting to social media require uploading data.
- Latency. Also known as ping time, latency is the time it takes to receive a response after sending a request. Latency is measured in milliseconds (ms).
- Jitter. While latency measures time delay of a single request, jitter represents the difference in latency between multiple requests that involve sending and receiving data. It is also measured in ms. Having a low jitter connection is important if you want to avoid problems with real-time applications such as audio/video.
The results of a speed test might not meet your expectations, but there is often an underlying reason that easily explains this.
Variables Can Impact Test Results
There are many factors that can affect your speed test results. One of the biggest involves the number of devices and traffic already on your connection at any given time.
“If you’re watching Netflix at home and someone else is watching another video, you might run a speed test and see lower than subscribed numbers,” explains Golden West Software Engineer Evan Hammer. “That could be because others in the house are using bandwidth.”
Evan points out that speed tests don’t necessarily show you what your connection is capable of; they’re really just a snapshot in time. The more people accessing the internet at once, the slower your speeds will be.
Another important consideration is where and how you run your speed test. Most Wi-Fi networks offer two frequency options for connecting: 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz. The one you choose depends on what you’re using your connection for; 2.4 GHz travels farther at lower speeds and is fine for devices like baby monitors, while a 5 GHz connection offers faster speeds at shorter ranges. It’s best for devices that are positioned close to your router. The higher the frequency, the faster you can connect. The farther away you are from your router, the slower you can connect to your network.
“If you’re in the farthest corner of your house from your wireless router, your speed test is going to show lower than subscribed because of distance,” Evan says. “The number of walls can also be detrimental to wireless connection speeds.”
How to Obtain Accurate Results
The best way to use a speed test to accurately determine whether there is a connectivity issue is to make sure you are the only one using the internet and are hardwired into your device when running the speed test. This involves connecting a laptop, preferably a newer model, to the router using an ethernet cable.
There are occasions when the Wi-Fi router you’re using is unable to deliver the latest and greatest speeds. In those cases, as long as it’s a Golden West device and a service technician determines that the equipment itself is the issue, you will receive a replacement.
“At the end of the day, our goal is to make sure people are getting what they pay for,” Evan says.
Sources: Some information for this article was provided by online articles from highspeedinternet.com, speedtest.net, and bandwidthplace.com.