The three major contributors to good internet speed are where you're located, what you're paying for, and how you're using the internet. If, after testing your internet speed, you find that it's slower than what you pay for, there are some things you can try to make the connection faster. However, the speed of any network is only as fast as what the internet service provider (ISP) gives out.Ach5 / Theresa Chiechi
How to Determine a Good Internet Speed
It's impossible to put a number on what's considered the normal speed of a network's internet connection. Everyone pays for different speeds and uses different devices, on different networks, to access the internet.
However, it is possible to determine your specific definition of normal by testing how fast of a connection you have and comparing that to the speed you're supposed to get.
With that being said, it's more common to get faster speeds on wired connections than wireless. For example, your phone probably can't stream movies while camping as quickly as it can at home.
Average Mobile Internet Speeds
The average connection speed for mobile phones ranges from 12 Mbps to 60 Mbps depending on the state where you live, the age of the phone, and whether your equipment supports the 4G LTE standard.
All major cellular providers show somewhat slower speeds in rural areas, probably because 80% of the population lives in urban areas. In most cases, the speed differential is less than 10%. These are averages. Some users experience faster speeds, and some users experience slower speeds.
Average Broadband Speeds
Modern broadband cable, fiber, and DSL networks continue to increase their internet speeds. Cable and fiber download speeds range from 100 Mbps to a maximum potential of 1 Gbps; download speeds on DSL are considerably slower, as are upload speeds on all three networks.
How to Test the Speed of Your Internet Connection
Finding out how fast of an internet connection you have is fairly easy. There are several internet speed test sites that do it for you in a matter of minutes, like Speedtest and SpeedOf.Me.
One catch is that you have to perform the speed test against your ISP. For example, if you don't subscribe to the Comcast internet package, you can still test your internet speed with the Comcast speed test for a somewhat accurate result. However, if you plan to argue with your ISP about why you have slow internet, use the speed test that they recommend.
If you can't find your ISP in the list of speed test sites above, contact your internet service provider and tell them you want to test your internet speed. There's a good chance they have a speed test you can perform to instantly see if you get what you pay for.
However, there's a lot that goes into the speed of a network. You could be getting what you're paying for but not fully realizing it because your network is overworked.
How to Get Faster Internet
If your internet speed seems to be falling short of the theoretical maximum set by your ISP, consider the different variables at play.
Here are some of the more common scenarios that could contribute to slow internet:Network congestion: If you share a network with other users, specifically ones that play online games, stream Netflix and YouTube, broadcast live video, and download large software programs, you'll experience a slowdown.Have the other users pause their downloads, streams, or uploads, or have them install an app with bandwidth control. The less bandwidth that's split between all users, the more bandwidth that each user will have, which translates to faster internet for everyone.Your location and distance from the server: Particularly for people in rural settings, the more distance the signal travels, the more your data hits bottlenecks across the many hops to reach your device.If you're gaming or streaming movies, switch to a closer server (if that's an option).Hardware: Hundreds of pieces of hardware connect you to the web, including your network connector, router and modem, many servers, and many cables. Also, a wireless connection has to compete with other signals in the air.Check the connections in your network (router, cabling, and other devices) to be sure the connections are attached properly. Replace the router or modem if it's too outdated to perform well. Change your wireless router's channel number to avoid interference.Time of day: Like the roads during rush hour, the internet has peak times for traffic that contribute to speeds slowing down.Put off streaming and downloading until off-hours like during the day on Monday through Friday.Selective throttling: Some ISPs analyze data, and purposefully slow down specific types of data. For example, many ISPs limit connections that download movies or dial down everything if you consume more than your monthly allotment.Use a VPN provider to hide your data so that the ISP can't detect your habits and throttle your bandwidth.Software: You may unwittingly have malware or a bandwidth-intensive application running that robs your internet speed.Shut down the bandwidth-hogging application and scan for malware.
If, after satisfying the above solutions, your internet is still slower than you think it should be, your only option is to upgrade. You can get faster internet by calling your ISP and requesting the next tier in their plan (if there is one).
However, before upgrading your internet service, do one last speed test with all of the above in mind. Keep network activity to a minimum, switch over to wired-only, and if the speed is within 5% to 15% of the service's promised speed (which is normal), an upgrade may be your only solution. Be sure to speed test on different devices and different bands (2.4 Ghz vs 5 Ghz) to rule out any other issue.
On the other hand, if you pay for a 150 Mbps connection, and you get 44 Mbps, it might seem like a perfect time for an upgrade. However, first, contact your service provider to audit your connection. If they mistakenly toggled you at a slower speed, the provider should give you what you paid for or credit you back fees.