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Making Sense Of My Internet Speed


I have been asked this question countless times by friends and acquaintances alike: “My Internet speed is like 5Mbps but why am I getting the stutters whenever I watch YouTube?”


At more times than one, an average Joe who uses the Internet blame its speed but there is more to it than meets the eye. First, let me get to the basics. Here are the common abbreviations used to measure Internet speed:


•    Kilobits per second (Kbps)- The smallest calculation of bandwidth. Note that a kilobit is equal to 1,000 bits. A dial-up modem (from a long time ago) maxes out at speeds of 56 Kbps but averages right around 40-50.

•    Kilobytes per second (KB/s)- There’s only one conversion you need to know: A byte is equal to 8 bits. Thus, the terms kilobytes per second and kilobits per second are not interchangeable and the former is often used in connection with the file size on a computer.

•    Megabits per second (Mbps)- A megabit is equal to 1,000 kilobits.

•    Megabytes per second (MB/s)- A megabyte is equal to 1,000 megabits. At this speed, it would only take a few seconds to download a typical Mp3 file.

•    Gigabits per second (Gbps)- A gigabyte is equal to 125 megabytes.


This list could actually go on as Internet Service Providers find more ways to deliver hi-speed Internet wherever clients want it.


If you have ever done an Internet speed test, though, you may have found yourself asking “Why does my Internet speed test tell me I can download this 720p movie in five minutes and yet it comes screeching and stopping”? Or “My Internet speed is 5MBps, but why won’t my Skype work better?”


Truth is, an Internet speed test here is only a piece of the puzzle. Speed tests simply measure how long it would take for a certain amount of data to travel to a server and back to your computer. The time a certain amount of data leaves your computer to the server—determines the upload speed. Conversely, that same amount of data traveling from the server to your computer is the download speed.


Typically, download speeds are faster than the upload speeds because of economics more so than physics. Meaning, because most people presumably download stuff more than they upload, companies design their models to cater more to that need.


So back to the question, Why does my internet speed say one thing and my download experience says another? One answer to that is Internet speed tests does not exactly measure JITTER. To illustrate: Imagine the cars of a train coming into a station at the same speed but those cars came in with different distances between each other. That’s exactly the mess jitters create and Internet speed tests don’t show a jitter statistic (if there’s such a thing).


Here’s another possible scenario: You only test your speed against a specific server (say server A). However, you don’t exactly download from that exact same server now, do you? So let’s say the Internet speed test you took against server A is 5mbps. That’s awesome, right? Not so fast.


Suppose you are downloading, not from server A, but from server B. If there are 7 different servers (or hops) that your communications have to go through to hit server B, the slowest hop to respond among those servers determines your speed. (Geeks call it the bottleneck.) It doesn’t matter if you’re driving a Hennessy Venom GT that has a top speed of almost 300 miles per hour, but if you’re down on the dirt road, that thing is not going anywhere!


Another detail to consider is that the bandwidth may have been divided by the number of devices at your home. If you got 5Mbps and have five computers at home downloading at the same time, that speed is now shared among the number of devices. That means any of those five computers at any given point in time will have Internet access speed that is less than what the modem is capable of.


So what could be the solution to this common Internet speed problem? Well, upgrading to a hi-speed internet connection certainly wouldn’t hurt. Or if you’re like me, you can just sit back and be grateful that we are all using this amazing technology. But then again, like I say, an upgrade definitely wouldn’t hurt. I’d surely be contemplating on that.


For high-speed internet call Advanced Tech at (800) 689-3434 or (506) 472-1800 and receive a no obligation quote today.



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