Tech Tip: Test your Internet speeds
Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Tech Tip: Test your Internet speeds

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Internet Service Providers – the company that connects you to the Internet, like AT&T, Comcast, Cox, Frontier, T-Mobile, and many others – are notorious for lying about their broadband speeds. Their advertising will boast a relatively fast 80Mbps connection, but include the words “up to” in tiny print.

The Biden administration and the FCC are being pressured by a group of Senators to increase what’s considered “broadband” to 100Mbps. This would be a good move, but will take some time to implement, especially as millions of people in the US don’t have access to the infrastructure needed to get 100Mbps connections.

In the meantime, you can test your connection speeds. On a computer, go to fast.com. It will immediately start a download test: how fast your computer can get data from the servers you’re connecting to. Once that’s done, click the ‘Show more info’ button. It will then run an upload test: how fast your computer can send data to servers.

In this screenshot, you can see that my Comcast connection gets a nice and fast 250Mbps down – well exceeding broadband standards. But I’m only getting 11Mbps up, just over 1/10th of the new suggested standard.

If the numbers are low, you can try a few things:

  • Restart your router and cable/DSL modem. These are probably the same device. Unplug it from power, wait 60 seconds, then plug it in again and wait for it to connect. Sometimes just resetting the connection helps.
  • Make sure your computer or phone are up-to-date with the latest software updates.
  • Upgrade your router’s firmware yourself, if you’re comfortable doing that. This especially applies if you bought the device yourself.
  • If you’ve had your router/modem for a while, call your ISP and see if it’s out of date and they can send you a newer model.
  • If you’re on a laptop, try moving it closer to the router. If that speeds your connection up significantly, then there might be materials in your home that are blocking the signal. Consider moving your router if possible.
  • Should all else fail, call your ISP and complain. You might even need to threaten to cancel your service if they don’t make sure your connection is working as advertised
    But remember – be kind with the customer service agent. It’s not their fault that millionaires and billionaires are taking advantage of you.