How do I know how fast my internet is?


1st Jan 2015 Technology

How do I know how fast my internet is?

As with many facets of life, there are lies, advertising and statistics when it comes to internet speed. While your broadband provider many claim a certain speed in their national adverts, your specific circumstances may dictate that you receive a slower service.


This can depend on how far away your connection is from a street cabinet, the number of other users in the area, or the type of connection (fibre or copper), among other factors. Those factors are all outside your control, but the only way to find out how fast your Internet speed really is, is to test it. With broadband almost as essential to many of us as water, power and gas, it is a great idea to make sure you are getting a good deal. This is done via a website test on your PC's browser, or a mobile app for your smartphone or tablet. Either way, to get an idea of your real broadband speed, you need to try at different times of the day, and repeat the test a few times to find an average. 


Test your speed

A site like Broadband Speed Checker (https://www.broadbandspeedchecker.co.uk/) can be used to find out your speed. For best results, use your PC plugged into your router broadband box via a network cable. Using a wireless WiFi connection could result in slower, less accurate results. If you have to use your PC via a WiFi connection, or are using a smartphone, then turn other devices off and be near the router to give you a cleaner WiFi signal. 

Other broadband testing sites or mobile apps are available to try. Whatever site or app you use, they all test your download speed (the speed of data from a server to your PC) and the upstream speed (which is how fast data is sent from your PC). Upload speed rates are usually a lot lower than the download speed, as most users download a lot more data than they send. 

Run the test during the morning, daytime and evening to find out how fast you get, and compare the speeds to those quoted on your broadband contract, or as part of your cable/entertainment or mobile package. They are usually 8, 16, 32 or higher megabits per seconds (mbps), and your connection's performance could be accurate, substantially lower at all times or vary considerably. 


Don't be afraid to challenge your provider

If the results remain consistently lower than the speed you should be getting, get in touch with your broadband provider and ask them to investigate. There could be a fault, your account could be set incorrectly, or they may need to make adjustments to ensure you get your full speed. Variable performance means you could be sharing your street-level connection with lots of heavy users (houses full of students are a notorious drain). In that case, your provider can adjust their settings to see you get a fairer share of the available bandwidth.  If you have GPON and your internet speed is consistently lower than expected, contact your broadband provider. They may need to adjust your GPON settings to ensure you get a fair share of the available bandwidth. Remember that GPON networks are shared and actual speed may be lower than advertised.

After your tests, keep a note of the results and bookmark the testing site. If you ever think your broadband speed is falling below the rate you expect, try again to ensure you are getting your money's worth.