skip to main content

Understanding and Testing Internet Speeds

Michael Corbett | Published Friday May 20th, 2022
frustration v2

Imagine that your internet speed is like the waterline to your home. If that pipe is only ¼-inch diameter, you might be able to operate the dishwasher just fine. But what if someone turns on the garden hose to water the garden? What if you started a load of laundry in the washing machine? You would quickly discover that none of these tasks are functioning at a satisfactory level. The water line is now practically useless for all applications unless you only use water in one place at a time. This principle can be applied to a low data package from your internet provider.

Whether you’re a VNET Fiber customer, or you’re stuck with another provider, the internet performance you achieve on a device is only going to be as fast as the slowest (or most limiting) component on the network. Using the methods we discuss below, you can troubleshoot most connectivity issues, including device limitations, and environmental interference. If you still need help and you’re a VNET Fiber customer, one of our representatives are happy to assist. Let’s dig in.

First, it’s important to determine what you are paying for. Perhaps you have cable, and the bill shows that you have 100 Mbps. You may be surprised to find out that you have 100 Mbps down but only 10 Mbps up. This means that if you upload anything on the internet, you will be severely limiting your ability to download since both operations cannot happen at the same time. Conversely, VNET Fiber always matches the up and down speed. Currently the speeds are 300x300 Mbps, 500x500 Mbps, and 1x1 Gbps.

The most direct way to test your connection from inside your home is to use an Ethernet cable from the LAN port of the ONT (fiber) or modem (cable) to a PC or laptop. You'll want to make sure your computer meets the requirements. Newer computers should not have too much trouble meeting the requirements to test speeds up to a 1x1 Gbps connection, but we'll list them here for reference:

  • OS: Windows 10 or 11 (64 bit)
  • Memory: 16 GB
  • Network adapter: 1 Gig

Next, open a speed test in your web browser such as the one found at SpeedTest.net. Click the "GO" button, and after about one minute, you will see the results of the Download and Upload test. If the results are good, you’ll want to move on to your wireless network.

When testing wireless devices, there are a few variables to keep in mind when looking at speed and performance. First, the particular WiFi protocol you use on your network may be a bottleneck for your device. The chart below displays the various WiFi standards and their corresponding theoretical speeds (the speeds you might get with optimal conditions), and the average actual speeds measured in homes and businesses. (Note: VNET Fiber provides 802.11ac routers to their customers)

WiFi Standard Theoretica Actual
802.11b 11 Mbps 5.5 Mbps
802.11a 54 Mbps 20 Mbps
802.11g 54 Mbps 20 Mbps
802.11n 600 Mbps 100 Mbps
802.11ac 1,300 Mbps 200 Mbps
802.11ax 10 Gbps 2 Gbps

Another consideration about WiFi is whether your device is connected to the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz band. With 2.4, you gain range, which is often why devices such as baby monitors, doorbells, and security cameras operate on that frequency. 5 GHz is faster, but can limit how far your device can roam from the access point.

Environmental elements also contribute to decreased speeds. Walls, glass, aluminum wiring, and wireless interference can all cut down on the strength and quality of the signal, which causes drops in the transmission of data that manifest themselves as slowness.

Finally, the device you are using plays an equal role in the performance of your internet speeds. Small devices like phones, tablets, and handheld game systems have smaller antennas that can limit their range. Battery-powered devices also lack the power to operate the radio at the same range as a laptop running off the AC adaptor. For these reasons, some gadgets built with 802.11ac compatibility may not even reach the "Actual" speeds shown above. However, with new WiFi standards like 802.11ax, it’s easy to see that wireless devices will have no problem maximizing available bandwidth.

With the fast upload and download speeds available from VNET Fiber, you can quickly get to the data you want. At the same time, your data can be backed up to the cloud, work remotely, the kids can play their video games online, and someone else can be video calling with no interruptions. Add in all the other devices on your network that utilize the cloud, such as home security cameras, home phone service, streaming TV, and smart home devices, you’ll wonder what life was like before you had that much bandwidth!