I often look at the speed of an Internet connection, when I am asked to fix a computer. Sometimes it is good, other times the speed is abysmal.
Should we be happy?
In the days of dial-up modems, internet access was slow. We waited for the modem to dial, then we waited for the email to download, and then we waited for internet pages to fill the screen. Now we have internet connections, with cable or ADSL modems, which allow us to stay on the internet full time. Full time internet access means that data transfer is often done in the background. Even the slowest full time connection is faster than the fastest dial-up modem. But should we be happy with our internet speed? Yes, but only if we have tested the speed and are getting what we are paying for.
What are you paying for?
At the bottom of this page, is a link to a site where you can test your internet speed. But, before you test, you should know what speed you are paying for. So, what do you do if you don't have the speed you are supposed to have?
Basic corrrective actions
There are a couple of things you should do. First, remove the power from your modem. Leave the power removed for at least 30 secs, so any residual memory in the modem is erased. Then plug it in and let it go through the initializtion process. Often this simple action will speed up your system. Test your speed. Then if you still have slow service and you have a router, unplug the router, let it wait for 30 secs, then plug it back in. Test again. If you still don't have the speed you are paying for, call your ISP (Internet Service Provider), in Alberta usually Shaw or Telus in big centers. Small centers or the country are usually serviced by independant ISPs. You know your supplier.
Talking to ISPs
Talking to the ISP is where the fun begins. Usually you get a good customer support person, but once in a while you get an ignorant dummy. If you get a person that talks too fast or talks over your head, make an excuse that your mother is on the other line, and hang up. Then call them again, hopefully getting a good person this time. ISPs use the weasel words "up to". You pay money for X Mbps speed, and they agree to provide "up to" that speed. The ISP doesn't guarantee the speed you are paying for. You may be able to reduce the amount you pay to a lower rate if the ISP has a plan that fits your speed. Or, hopefully, the ISP will come to your place and fix the system to give you what you are paying for. Have fun.
Test your speed at www.speedtest.net. Don't click on "Start Scan". Look for "START TEST WITH RECOMMENDED SERVER"