Internet Speed Test

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How does my internet speed compare to other providers in my area?

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Learn your actual internet speed

Are your internet speeds as fast as what you’re paying for? It’s easy to check up on what speeds your internet provider is actually delivering to your home. So, before you call your internet company to complain about slow internet, take a one-minute internet speed test. 

Most providers deliver speeds close to what they advertise—although speeds aren’t actually guaranteed. That’s why you’ll see internet companies advertising “speeds up to.” 

If your internet isn’t delivering speeds close to advertised speeds, find out what’s causing the problem. It could be caused by something on your end or on the internet provider’s end.

Internet speeds often vary throughout the day, so test your internet speed several times during the day to get a good indication of the average speeds you’re getting from your internet provider. Keep in mind that evening and weekend speeds might be slower. 

If your speeds are consistently a lot lower than what you’re paying for, check out the internet speed troubleshooting tips below. And if nothing is helping to restore speeds, contact your internet provider to find out what’s wrong. 

Low internet speeds could be caused by any of the following:

  • Experiencing Wi-Fi network problems (maybe you’re too far from your router, or your network is struggling to keep up with your internet activities)
  • Going over your monthly data cap (this is common with satellite internet plans) 
  • Having outdated equipment or needing to update your modem firmware
  • Living in an area that is oversubscribed and subject to slowing during peak traffic times
  • Having multiple devices connected to your Wi-Fi 

How to get the best speed test results

  1. Switch off other devices. When testing your internet speed, we recommend turning off all other devices in your home that access the internet. This includes laptops, phones, desktop computers, tablets, wearables, gaming systems, smart appliances, security systems, smart TVs, DVRs, and more. Each device eats up some of the bandwidth, so it’s best to disconnect everything temporarily to get a clear indication of the speed your internet provider is delivering. 
  2. Use an Ethernet cable. It’s also a good idea to test your internet using both your home Wi-Fi network and a wired connection to your modem. Use an Ethernet cable plugged into your modem and your computer to run the wired connection test. Then connect to your home Wi-Fi network to test your Wi-Fi speed. Compare the tests to see if you’re having problems with your Wi-Fi network, which could be a sign you need a better router.
  3. Reset your modem. If your speeds are slower than expected, unplug your modem/router and wait a few minutes. Then plug it in again. This will reset your modem (also known as power cycling). Sometimes this helps restore normal speeds. Try it before a speed test for best results.

Internet speed and data recommendations

It’s easy to overspend on internet speed plans. (How many people really use the full power of their 2,000 Mbps plan? Very few.) It’s also possible to skimp too much on your internet plan and end up with a sluggish connection that can’t support video calls, or that times out when you’re trying to make a purchase online.

Recommended download speed

A download speed of at least 25 Mbps is the threshold for what the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) considers broadband internet. Anything below this will perform noticeably slow, even if you’re just browsing the internet. 

As far as upload speeds go, you can probably get by with lower upload speeds. Most households need a minimum of 3 Mbps upload to participate in video calls and upload images to social media. But gaming or uploading large files to the cloud requires faster upload speeds. 

At SatelliteInternet.com, we recommend getting an internet plan with a download speed of at least 25 Mbps and upload speed of 3 Mbps. For best results, throw in an extra 10–15 Mbps for each person in the household.

Living in the country? We get that. We like fresh air and lots of space, too. You can find out the best internet options for rural areas in our guide.

If you have several people in your household, multiple devices, or a penchant for heavy internet usage, you’ll need faster speeds. Each device connected to the internet will eat up some of the bandwidth your connection delivers, so the more devices you have, the faster your speed needs to be.

How much data do you need?

Speed and data matter, especially with rural internet options or budget plans in the city where plans restrict data. For example, most “unlimited” satellite internet plans limit your access to full-speed data. They’re unlimited in the sense that you can still access the internet after you go over your data cap, but your speeds can be throttled down to 1 to 3 Mbps if you exceed your data limit.

Have you hit your data cap?

Slow satellite internet speeds are most commonly caused by exceeding your data cap. Satellite services limit the amount of full-speed data, even on unlimited plans. Once you go over your monthly allotment, your speeds will be throttled. 

To prevent throttling, you can either minimize your data usage (often by canceling Netflix and getting satellite TV) or increase your Viasat data plan

Recommended internet speed by activity

Household data usage varies, but it has climbed sharply since the COVID-19 pandemic. The average household data usage in 2020 averaged about 344 GB per month but spiked to over 400 GB some months.1 Some households use far more or less data than average. The more devices and people you have using the internet simultaneously, the more speed you’ll need and the more data you’ll burn through.

Video streaming (Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, etc.):

1–2 devices: SD (DVD quality): 10 Mbps | HD: 50 Mbps

3–4 devices: SD (DVD quality): 50 Mbps | HD: 100+ Mbps

Music streaming

1–2 devices: 5 Mbps

2–4 devices: 25 Mbps

Internet browsing

1–2 devices: 3–5 Mbps

2–4 devices: 10+ Mbps

Online gaming

1–2 devices: 25 Mbps

2–4 devices: 75+ Mbps

Calculating monthly data needs

Different activities online burn through different amounts of data. To find out how much data your household will need each month, use the chart below to estimate your data needs.

Swipe left to see all →
Activity Data use per hour
Internet browsing0.01–0.02 GB
Music streaming0.15 GB
Social media0.15 GB
Video call (two people)0.06–0.56 GB
Video conference calls (data use increases with each video participant)0.8–2.4 GB
Streaming video in SD (480p)700 MB
Streaming video in HD3 GB
Streaming video in UHD (4K)7 GB
Video game downloads1–20 GB
Basic online gaming 0.01 GB
Multiplayer online gaming0.06 GB

How to understand your speed test results

Your speed test results include three critical components: 

  1. Your download speed tells you how fast you can access information from another server with your internet connection. When you click on a link to display a web page, open an email, or stream a video on YouTube, you’re using download speed. The server must download the information to display it on your computer or device. 
  2. Your upload speed indicates how quickly you can send information to a server. Your upload speed really matters when you share photos or videos on social media, send emails, or transfer files or data.
  3. Your latency tells you how long of a delay your internet connection has and is measured in milliseconds (ms). You don’t want high latency—the lower, the better! 

 

How an internet speed test works

To test your internet connection speeds, a server sends an empty (harmless) file to your computer. Then, the server requests the file back. Download, upload, and latency are measured this way.

Need more speed?

Internet companies generally offer a variety of speed tiers. Some rural providers offer faster speeds and more data than others. If your internet speed isn’t fast enough, or you’re hitting your data cap every month, find out what other internet plans are offered at your address. 

If you aren’t getting the speeds you need, check out other internet plans available in your area.

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Sources

1. Toledo, Rob, “REPORT: The Average Household’s Internet Data Usage Has Jumped 38x in 10 Years,” April 2020. Accessed March 25, 2021.

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