Broadband Speed Test

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How do Broadband Speed tests work?

Broadband speed tests work by measuring the rate at which your device downloads a small amount of data and sends it back. This will be repeated several times to provide the algorithm with data to calculate your most stable download and upload speed from the closest server.

How To Test Your Internet Connection Speed

With so many external factors affecting broadband speed, you may be curious about how your current connection fares. There are several other broadband speed testing sites available that can give you an approximation of your download and upload speeds.

Tips on Getting the Most Accurate Speed Test Results

There are a lot of external factors that can affect your speed test results. To get the most accurate results from this test it is worth doing the following:

  1. Connect your device directly to the router. 
  2. Ensure You Are Not Running Through a Proxy (VPN) Service.
  3. Use an up to date Browser
  4. Avoid other people using the connection whilst running the speed test.
  5. Be sure to check that you have closed any other applications that may consume data and lessen the accuracy of your test.

Speed tests should be used to provide you with a guide on the speed that you are receiving. It is a good idea to run the test at different times of the day and different days of the week to get an overall outlook on the quality of your broadband speed. 

Why do Broadband Speed Test Results Vary?

Various factors can affect the result of the speed test. If you ran your broadband speed test consecutively you would still get slightly different results. This can be due to the amount of traffic on the network at the time of running the tests. However, if you are getting wildly differing results this could indicate another issue. In this case, it is worth running through our Tips on Getting the Most Accurate Speed Test Results 

If you have tried all of these tips, it is worth contacting your broadband provider as they can run further tests on your connection.

How to Interpret My Results?

Once you run the broadband speed test you will be provided with your results. Your upload speed is measured in megabytes per second (Mbps) this is how quickly you can upload data to the internet. Your download speed is measured in the same way and is the speed you can download data from the internet.

What Is Ping?

In short, Ping indicates the quality of your connection between you and the test server. This is measured in milliseconds (ms). The lower the ping score the better your connection. Anything below 100 is average for most broadband connections. With anything under 25 ms should be considered excellent.

What Is Jitter?

Jitter is related to ping and is the variance in delay between the data packets. The lower the score the more stable your connection is, and the less likely you to get buffering or lag in online gaming. Ideally, for best performance, jitter ideally should be below 20 milliseconds.

If you can constantly getting poor try connecting your device directly to your broadband router via an ethernet cable and run the test again. This should eliminate any factors within your home that could be affecting performance. Contact your broadband provider or consider switching broadband provider if you are not getting the performance you expect.

Why is Broadband Speed Important?

Broadband speed is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a broadband service. This is precisely why in addition to price, broadband service providers, quote their download and upload speeds when they market their services.

The speed of your broadband connection can have a huge impact on your online experience. 

Moreover, a Digital Britain report by the UK government has made discussions over broadband speeds a chief concern. However, some in the general public have trouble discerning all the terminology associated with ISPs and speeds.

The following guide provides information to help consumers make more informed decisions regarding their internet service provider.

The Difference Between a Megabit and a Megabyte

Most computer users deal with files in terms of megabytes. The use of the term is so ubiquitous that when an ISP quotes their speeds using the abbreviation Mbps, many assume this translates to megabytes per second. However, broadband speeds are measured in megabits per second, as indicated by the lower case Mb as opposed to MB. In terms of data, 1 megabyte (MB) is equal to 8 megabits (Mb).

Therefore an ISP that promises bandwidth of 24 Mbps can theoretically download a 3 MB file in one second. This is an important distinction to consider as most downloads are measured in MB.

In summary:

  • 1 MB (megabyte) = 8 Mb (megabits)
  • 1 KB (kilobyte) = 8 Kb (kilobits)
  • 1024 Kb (kilobits) = 1 Mb (megabit)
  • 1024 KB (kilobytes) = 1 MB (Megabyte)

Download Speeds Explained

The download speed indicates the pace at which data, whether it be websites, games or streaming movies, is received by your computer. At the moment, broadband speeds are sold at anywhere between 10Mb to 1Gb plans, depending on the type of connection and service. This figure is expected to rise dramatically over the next few years with the UK Gigabit Broadband Programme.

However, for most individuals, the fastest download speeds are irrelevant given their use. For casual internet and email users, the slowest broadband packages will more than suffice. On the other hand, for those who download large files and stream standard resolution video, a more suitable speed is required. Lastly, those who want to stream high definition video or games typically need to subscribe to the fastest bandwidth tier provided.

While in theory, a 25 Mbps connection is capable enough to stream a video in 720p, all ISPs advertise their download speeds based on the average speed for 50 per cent of its users, once you start the signup process you should be given a minimum download speed that you’ll receive. This is based on various factors but is a good guide on what to expect. If you experience lag during peak hours should speak to your broadband provider or consider changing your service provider.

Upload Speeds Explained

The upload speed indicates the rate at which data is sent to the internet or another computer. Whenever an individual uploads a photo to their Facebook page, or a video onto Youtube, the speed at which this data is sent is determined by your ISP’s upload speed. As uploading is a less critical aspect of the internet experience, ISPs tend to give far less priority to uploading as opposed to downloading.

Typically upload speeds are only important to individuals who are sending large amounts of data to the internet. An example could be those that use Zoom or Facetime regularly or if you run a webcam. For these consumers, choosing a broadband package that offers higher upload speeds should be paramount. Broadband providers will give you a minimum upload speed, based on your area and package when you start the signup process. Like download speeds, that may fluctuate at times depending on a variety of external factors.

Advertised Speeds Versus Actual Speed

Advertised speeds reflect the speed that 50% of the broadband provider’s customers receive during peak times. Realistically, a variety of factors may influence the actual speed you receive. For instance, the distance from your street box can severely impact your bandwidth. Old wiring in the home may also bottleneck your data, as well as an outdated router or modem.

Some of these factors may be more or less critical depending on the type of service you subscribe to. For example, an ADSL connection might be significantly impacted by the distance to the server, while a cable modem connection will see little to no effect.

However, as a cable modem connection is shared by several users in the same region, broadband speeds will oscillate throughout the day, while ADSL speeds tend to remain more constant. By the same token, those in the city may have access to higher quality broadband, but also must share their connection with more users.

Other ISPs will deliberately hinder the bandwidth of high data consumers during busy hours. This practice, known as ‘traffic shaping,’ is meant to ensure that a few individuals do not consume all the available bandwidth. Some who engage in extensive file sharing may even experience drops during the day.