With the current COVID-19 pandemic, countless people are using their home internet service instead of using the internet connection at their place of employment or school. This means that the home internet connection may need to be upgraded. Regardless of the internet service provider (ISP) that you use (e.g., Verizon Fios, Xfinity, etc.), it may be necessary to increase the speed of your internet connection. This article will provide some tips for that process.
What is Internet Connection Speed?
Internet connection speed is the rate at which data travels on to the internet using your internet connection provided by your internet service provider (e.g., Verizon FiOS). It is measured in Megabits per second (Mbps) or Gigabits per second (Gbps). The internet connection speed should not be confused with bandwidth. Bandwidth is the measure of the maximum rate of data through the connection and can be thought of as the size of the pipe. The actual amount of flow through that pipe is your internet speed.
There are many things that could affect the speed of data traversing from your computer to its final destination on the internet. Therefore, the bandwidth and the realized speed of your internet connection will be different. The goal is to optimize the internet connection that you do have.
There are two speeds/rates that you should be aware of. There is the speed at which data comes down from the internet on your internet connection (e.g., browsing websites, streaming video, etc.) and the speed at which data goes up (e.g., uploading images to a photo service, uploading videos to YouTube, streaming video, etc.).
Internet Connection Requirements
Depending on your internet connection, your download and upload speeds may be different. The internet connection is called asynchronous when the upload and download speeds are different (e.g., cable internet connection, DSL). In an asynchronous internet connection, the download speed is generally higher than the upload speed. This is fine for most people who typically use their internet connection to stream videos, browse websites, etc. They download much more data than they upload. An example of speeds for this type of internet connection might be 25 Mbps down and 5 Mbps up (25/5 Mbps).
Some people require high upload speeds as well as high download speeds. This is usually obtained using a synchronous internet connection. Synchronous Internet connections provide the same upload and download speeds. An example of a synchronous internet connection is a fiber optic connection such as Verizon FiOS People that may require a synchronous internet connection are those who upload lots of content frequently, such as web developers and vloggers, especially if there are multiple people in the household who upload lots of content regularly. You might see speeds for synchronous internet connections advertised as 75/75 Mbps.
Should I Upgrade?
Should you upgrade your internet connection speed? It depends. Did your internet performance drop when everyone in the household started staying home during the day because of COVID-19? If so, then that could mean that your internet connection isn’t sufficient for the new demands on it. How many people are using the internet simultaneously during the day? How is the internet used by those in your household (e.g., playing internet games, video conferencing, streaming audio/video, etc.)?
There are online resources that you can use to help determine how fast your internet connection should be. Check out https://www.allconnect.com/blog/do-you-need-gigabit-internet-speed and scroll down to the “What internet speed do I need” section. Your ISP probably has several internet plans that you can choose from. Do not blindly select the fastest speed because not only may you not need that speed, it may also be overkill for your usage and home network.
A buzzword these days is Gigabit internet speed. ISPs advertise their Gigabit internet as being 100 times faster than that possible with copper cables (Gigabit internet runs on a fiber optic cable). You may see a chart showing the download speeds for various internet connections. You may reason that if you purchased a Gigabit internet plan that web pages would load with lightning speed, you could stream 4K videos with no problem, etc. However, merely increasing your internet speed may not result in the performance increase that you may expect. This is because there are other factors that affect internet speed. Just because your internet connection is a Gigabit connection does not mean that you will realize that speed.
Optimizing Internet Speed
Some things that may limit your internet speed performance is an old router, an old or faulty network switch, an old or faulty wireless access point (for Wi-Fi networks), or even your computer. Therefore, I suggest that you evaluate your current speed compared to the speed of your internet plan. The goal is to optimize what you already have and then upgrade if necessary. A resource that I use to test my internet speed is www.speedtest.net. That site will run a test to determine your internet download and upload speeds. Ideally, they should be very close to those of your plan.
If you evaluate your internet speed and find that it isn’t as high as your plan allows, then you may have a bottleneck on your computer or on your network. Merely upgrading your internet speed will probably not solve that problem unless the ISP sends you a new router and the old router was indeed the bottleneck. In any case, my point is not to blindly increase your internet speed thinking that a higher speed will make things faster when you use the internet. That may not be the case. First, evaluate what you have and what you need and then make an informed decision.
Upgrading your internet speed may require you to update other components on your home network such as the router, network switches, Wi-Fi access points, and maybe even some network cable. The important thing is to understand what can affect your internet performance and what you can do to improve it. You may find that increasing the internet connection speed with your ISP will help significantly especially if there are more people in the house using the internet at the same time whereas previously they would have been at work or school. You may also discover the upgrading your home wireless network may boost performance for those using wireless devices.
Use Your Own Router
Another point that I would like to make is that even if you do increase the speed of your internet connection with your ISP, you do not necessarily need to use their router. If you have a modem, then you will still need it. However, you may be able to purchase your own router and save on the ISP router rental fees. You generally can get a higher performance router than what your ISP provides.
Don’t forget about the security of your internet connection. Your home network is at increased risk now that more people are using the home network. Upgrading your internet connection should mean that you shore up the security of your network. That is a topic for another article. Suffice it for me to say that there are additional steps and devices that you can use to improve the security of your network.
Ok. So, those are some things that you should be aware of if you are considering upgrading your internet connection at home. Again, do not blindly pay for increased speeds from your ISP. Make an informed decision based on your own evaluation (with the help of Reggie’s PC Resources if necessary).
Reggie’s PC Resources can assist you in assessing your current internet performance and help you to optimize and upgrade it. Feel free to give me a call at 215-362-0967 for assistance.
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