These days, everyone relies on the internet for something. Maybe you work from home and need it to do your job, or maybe you just want a super-fast connection so you can stream 4K movies when you get home from work. Either way, you probably pay a significant monthly amount to ensure you’re getting a decent speed, at decent reliability. So how can you be sure that you’re getting the true speed or reliability of internet that you’re paying for?
Knowing Your Plan
The first step is knowing what type of plan you’re currently in, and who your provider is. You may not realize it, but there are probably multiple different internet providers in your area—and not all of them will offer the same quality service. See who your local internet providers are, and determine who you’re currently with. Is this company the one getting the best customer reviews?
Next, take a look at your internet package. You’re probably paying a fixed amount of money for an internet package that promises a certain “maximum” speed, like 250 Mbps. Do note that this speed is a maximum, and you probably won’t be getting this maximum speed on a consistent basis. Different levels of demand will influence the actual speed you’re getting—but you should still be getting something in the same ballpark.
Testing Your Speed
Next, you’ll want to test your speed to see what kind of connection you’re getting. Noticing a video game with lag or a movie with buffering issues may clue you into the possibility that there’s a problem, but you’ll need hard numbers if you’re going to make a strong case. Head to Speedtest.net and you should be able to see what your download and upload rates are in Mbps. You’ll also be able to test your ping, which is the amount of time it takes a message to make a round trip between an originating host and a destination computer.
If you get a single test that shows a much different internet speed than what you’re paying for, try not to panic. Remember, internet speeds can vary pretty dramatically under normal circumstances, so you’ll want to run several tests at different times of day, over the course of several days. Take an average, and see whether that average is close to what you should be getting. You may also want to take note of when your internet increases or decreases in speed, so you can avoid usage during peak times.
Determining Your Reliability
There’s a less scientific method for determining the reliability of your internet: observation. Take note of when your internet is up, available, and capable of giving you the experience you need, and when it goes down. How often do you need to call your internet provider to attend to an outage? How often do you need to restart your router to fix an interruption in your connection?
If you notice inconsistency or frequent interruptions, you’ll want to make a note that you aren’t getting the internet reliability you need.
Getting Better Results
Unfortunately, there’s no single solution to improve your internet speed or reliability because there’s no single factor responsible for internet slowdowns. In fact, your internet provider may be providing you with exceptional service—but if your router is on the fritz or you have too many devices connected to your network at the same time, it could cause a dramatic slowdown anyway. Run some diagnostics on your home internet setup to see if you can resolve any issues on your own. Sometimes, upgrading your router’s firmware, replacing your router, repositioning your router, or simply adjusting some of your habits and connected devices can help you bring up your internet speed to where it should be.
If that doesn’t work, you’ll want to call your internet provider and explain to them that you aren’t getting what you’re paying for. Make sure you have the numbers in front of you; explain when you took a speed test, and what kind of readings you were getting, and tell them how many days of outages you’ve experienced in the past several months. Depending on your situation and the company you’re dealing with, you may be able to get a technician out to check the integrity of your connection, or you may be able to negotiate for a lower rate on your monthly bill.
If you’re not able to solve the problem or get a favorable solution, it may be time to consider switching providers. Gather reviews on other internet companies in your area and see if there are any that seem to be more reliable. You may end up saving money while getting better internet.