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Based on the Speed Test, is your internet provider living up to its claims?

When you test your connection using our free Internet Speed Test, you’ll see a few numbers pop up—for download, upload, ping and jitter.

But one that you’re likely most interested in is the download number.

It should actually just be called the speed number, because it tells you how fast data moves to you when you’re getting information from the internet.

More importantly, that download number is the one that corresponds to the speed number that internet providers advertise and offer to you at home for a “blazing fast” connection.

You’ve seen their ads.

  • “Speeds up to 100 Mbps!” (they mean megabits per second)

  • “Now with speeds up to 300 Mbps!”

Do you know what speed your Internet Service Providers (ISP) if delivering to you?

That’s why you’ll want to do this internet speed test at home—to see how your real-time “download speed” compares to the advertised Internet speed they say you’re able to get at home—in other words, the internet speed they are selling you.

An internet speed test tells you the actual download speed on your computer from your real-time connection.

Internet speed. It’s a numbers game.

It helps to put a number on things and we’re used to it. People want to know exactly how old you are, how tall, how many miles on your car odometer. We measure things by numbers.

It’s always been that way with computers and technology, too. How much memory does a computer have? How big is the hard drive? How fast is the microprocessor?

In the same way that hard-throwing baseball pitchers are compared by speed, so are our internet connections, and it seems to matter more than anything. Here’s what’s being measured:


The rate in megabits-per-second that data is transferred from the Internet to your computer.

Download Screen


The Mbps when data is being transferred from your computer to the Internet.

Upload Screen


The time it takes for one signal to travel electronically from a website/server to your computer after you request it (or test it). It’s not the download speed, but instead the measure of how long it takes for the download to begin once your device makes the information request.

What is Ping?

Think of the sound submarines make in the movies (ping! ping!). The term ping is sometimes used in place of latency; but it’s actually the signal/tool used to measure it. During the speed test, a latency test is also done and the ping sound is sent to you and measured. It’s like asking someone a question and measuring how long it takes for you to hear the response.

What is Jitter?

This measures variations in the ping; how jumpy or erratic the connection may be. Think of jets flying to your nearest airport from another continent. Some jets may fly smoothly. While others may hit turbulence, affecting air speed. That’s what jitter is about.

NOTE: Cable companies rig it so that download speed is much faster than upload. Why? They figure most people want to download movies, songs, or large files more than they would need to upload them.

Why it's a good idea to test your internet speed.

Seeing if your internet provider is living up to their claims is only one reason to bookmark this page and take an internet speed test every so often.

Here is a list of other reasons to do so:

  • To consider a different internet provider’s service (and faster speed) that may be available to you.

  • To see if you can take steps to improve your internet speed at home.

  • To see if you have sufficient speed for all the users in your home or small office.

  • To see if your online activities require more speed than you have.

  • To find out the speeds at the free Wi-Fi spots you visit, and the fastest one.

  • To see if you can lower your internet bill by downgrading your maximum speed.

  • To test your download speed with somebody else’s (side by side), to see if your device is slow by comparison.

  • To see how using a particular VPN affects your internet speed.

How does internet speed affect your internet experience?

Have you ever wondered how much internet speed you need? Most people don’t. Nor do they ask themselves what the top speed is they can experience online.

Both questions play right into the results you get from the internet speed test.

Just like hopping on a freeway or interstate highway, you want to go as fast as you safely can. The faster you drive, the sooner you get to your destination.

Better yet, think of it as arranging for a delivery from the post office, FedEx or from Amazon. Most people want the fastest delivery they can get…especially when it’s important; they’re even willing to pay for faster delivery if it’s important to them.

Watching Movies
Paying Bills
Watching Sports

It’s the same for the internet—lots of people care about how fast information from websites travels to them, and they don’t like it when they have to wait for it—no matter what they’re doing online.

Having said that, if you could get a faster internet speed from your (or a different) internet provider, you’d probably want that. It might not feel that different at first, but your internet experience might be smoother over all.

Your need for speed.

Taking an internet speed test (specifically at home) puts a real number to what your online connection experience is when you visit ESPN, YouTube or any other graphic-heavy site you visit.

“An internet speed test tells you how fast your connection is moving on the internet as you request information on websites, watch videos, send emails and more.

The speed test is like the speedometer on of your internet connection: How simple is that?

That’s primarily what this internet speed test is about, and what’s most important to 90% of people.

Just keep this in mind about internet speed and test results—it’s just a read out. It’s simply a piece of information, a number provided to you in something called Mbps that gauges your internet experience.

Once you know that number, you can decide for yourself what do next.

It tells you how fast your connection is moving on the internet as you request information on websites, watch videos, send emails and more.

The "miles per hour" on the internet

All internet service providers measure their download speeds in terms of Mbps, and all you need to keep in mind is that a higher Mbps number means a potentially faster internet connection speed.

As far as switching internet providers for a higher Mbps, you’d likely notice a difference only if you were moving from a slow connection to a much faster one. If that were the case, then the change would be significant and welcome, because…

• You wouldn’t experience lag and slowdowns.

• More of your household can do more online activities at the same time.

• Your gaming wouldn’t experience frustrating delays.

• You won’t have to wait as long for files to download or upload.

In short, you get a better internet experience.

Your actual internet speed may vary

If everything is ideal at home with your internet connection, you could experience the top speed that your internet provider offers to your area.

Those conditions might include the following:

• You are the only one using the internet in your home.Fast Download

• You’re simply paying bills, doing research, following the news, watching YouTube videos, or checking how many likes you received on Facebook.

• You’re using the internet at a time of day when most people aren’t on the network.

• Your wireless router is in an area of the house that is in the open.

• Your laptop or desktop is newer and the operating system is up to date.

In other words, it might take perfect conditions to get the exact top speeds your ISP says they provide you.

Something else comes into play…the type of internet connection you have.

Do you have a cable, fiber, or DSL connection? (Hopefully it’s not satellite!)

Here’s something else that factors into the maximum internet speed you’re able to get—that’s the type of internet connection technology you’re using. There are primarily four different technologies Internet Service Providers offer:

  • cable internet

  • fiber optics

  • DSL (Digital Subscriber Line…a telephone line connection)

  • satellite internet

They are definitely not all same because they are inherently different from each other—and some are much faster.

Internet Technology Connection SpeedsIn the same way skateboards are slower than bicycles, which are slower than motorcycles, internet technologies vary greatly by speed.

  • Satellite is the slowest connection, with a top speed of 25 Mbps.

  • DSL is not a fast connection, also at about 25 Mbps.

  • Cable internet, which most people have, can deliver speeds as fast as 300 Mbps, but most ISPs are delivering speeds in the 100 to 150 Mbps range.

  • Fiber optics is the fastest, and you can get up to 2,000 Mbps with the best plan and the best connection. Fios from Verizon for example, is a fiber optic connection, and there are others.

Satellite internet may sound fancy and “ooooh” hi-tech, however, it’s not.

Satellite cable is used primarily by people who can’t get one of the other types of internet—and it offers the slowest speeds and the lowest “maximum” speed. But some people live in (or may find themselves located in) an area that don’t have cable, fiber optic or DSL internet options…and satellite is their only choice.

Here are the top Internet Service Providers by the technology used:

Cable ISPs

  • Charter Spectrum

  • Comcast

  • Cox Communications

Fiber-optic ISPs

  • Frontier Fiber

  • Verizon Fios


  • AT&T

  • CenturyLink

  • Verizon

Want to go faster? Pay up.

In case you don’t know this already, your internet provider doesn’t automatically give you the best Mbps they offer—they typically create different plans at different top speeds…and at different prices, of course.

And, of course, you’ll pay the most per month for the top Mbps available in their range.

“You don’t necessarily need the fastest Mbps speed you can get—only the speed you need.

Should you start scrambling to see if you can get a faster internet connection? Should you get the fastest speed your internet provider offers?

Not necessarily. Keep this fact in mind.

If you’re just browsing the web, checking on the news, watching some YouTube video, those aren’t “demanding” activities and they won’t require a super-fast connection.

It’s when your household has multiple devices on the internet at the same time, streaming movies, downloading big files—asking a lot of your connection—that an ordinary internet speed will trip you up.

Understanding megabits per second.

Mbps is the measurement of the rate of amount of data per second that an internet connection can send.

Digital information travels super-fast and the amount of data—in bits per second—can be incredibly high, depending on two things:

1. The technology transmitting it: is it cable, fiber optics, satellite?

2. What speed the internet provider is willing to send. Yes…they can slow it down.

So, if an internet provider says, “up to 150 Mbps”, then that is the fastest speed they can offer. If they say 50 to 150 Mbps, they’re likely selling plans at varying speeds, for varying prices.

Megabit magic.

Data travels in huge chunks of individual pieces. The data (words, photos, files, music) is broken into digital units called “bits.” Those bits get reassembled to complete the file. Of course, this happens so incredible fast it all looks you’re getting the file in one piece.

Complex Digital ArtHowever, whenever you experience slow-downs or files are taking a long time to download, it’s because your internet connection, for whatever reason, isn’t fast enough to do it seamlessly.

It helps to think of what you are downloading (a website, a music file, a photo) as a completed digital puzzle and individual puzzle pieces as the digital “bits”—the pieces travel individually or in packs and are reassembled in their original file/form when they reach their destination (your device).

How many bits you can get per second indicates how fast the entire file (puzzle) gets to you completed.

So, think of one puzzle piece:

• 1,000 pieces can be labeled 1K

• 1,000K is 1,000,000 pieces, or 1M

• 1,000M is 1,000,000,000, or 1G

Let’s move over to the digital world.

Digital data that travels at a speed of one-thousand bits-per-second would be 1Kbps. As things speed up…

• Mbps indicates 1,000K (1,000,000) bits per second

• Gbps indicates 1,000M (1,000,000,000) bits per second

The old-school “dial-up” internet service operated in the slow Kbps range, delivering 40-50 Kbps. (Yet, you can still find dial-up service in some places, used by a few people, but it is rare.)

Today, internet service providers talk about internet speeds in terms of Mbps only, in the same way professional athletes’ salaries are measured in millions of U.S. dollars (M), not thousands (K). For instance, LeBron James makes 36M USD, while Beyoncé makes about 80M USD.

How much internet speed do you need?

Just as there’s a major difference between a light workout and a strenuous workout—and its effect on your body (how many calories you burn, etc.)—there’s a difference between light use and strenuous use of internet activity on your devices, from desktops and laptops to mobile phones and tablets.

That makes, doesn’t it? There are light users, moderate users and those heavy users who strain the capabilities of their connections.

Modern FamilyIf you compare yourself to your friends, kids, colleagues (or your parents!) you’ll soon realize how differently you all use the internet.

Here’s what’s considered light use:

• Sending and receiving emails

• Everyday internet browsing

• Social media activities

• SD video streaming

Here’s what’s considered moderate use:

• Music streaming

• Occasional online gaming

• Streaming HD (high-definition) video on one or two devices

Here’s what’s considered high use:

• Multiple devices streaming HD video simultaneously

• Sustained real-time gaming

• Video conferencing

Here’s what’s considered extremely high use: When there are multiple devices online simultaneously that are:

• Streaming HD or 4K video

• Downloading large files or torrenting

• Actively engaged in real-time gaming

• Video conferencing

How to estimate the internet speed you need.

Now that you have a clearer or better idea about internet usage—and what’s considered light and heavy—do a mental survey of your household and label it anywhere on the light-use to very-high-use scale.

Remember, it may vary as certain user types jump on and off your connection.

Then count the typical numbers of users on your internet connection.

According to different websites, here’s the internet speed—in good old Mbps—recommended to keep everyone happy.

User Internet Speed Chart

Are you sure you want to go faster?

You can go out today and buy a sports car with a top speed close to 200 mph.

Go for it! You want to go as fast as you can, don’t you? Well, not really, besides there are these things called traffic and laws. Plus, then there’s the price tag involved, and the fact you really don’t need to go superfast.

In the end, we all agree that having the top speed available is more mental satisfaction—simply knowing the power you have under the hood. And that’s what Internet Service Providers want you to think and feel.

But as you may have learned in this article, why pay more for top speeds you can live without?