Understanding your Internet speed test results

by | Oct 3, 2023

Mother trying to understand her internet speed test results
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How do you know if your internet connection is delivering the speeds you need for gaming, streaming, and working? Internet speed test results can indicate whether that missed shot in Fortnite was really your fault or due to a slow connection. And if inadequate speeds are booting you out of important client Zoom meetings, you need to know how to check your internet speed. So, what is a good internet speed test result, and what can you do to optimize your experience?

What is a good speed test result?

Determining a good speed test result depends on several factors, such as what you’re trying to do and what kind of service you’ve paid for.

One way to think about internet speed results is to determine if you’re actually getting what you signed up for. Suppose your plan claims to have speeds “up to 50 Mbps.” In that case, 40 Mbps may be a good result, especially if you live in a remote area or do the test during peak hours when more users are vying for bandwidth. But if you signed up for gigabit speeds, 40 Mbps is nowhere near the rate you should expect.

Another way to define what your internet speed should be is by determining whether it meets your specific needs. Even if the speed result is considerably lower than what was advertised, it might still be sufficient. If you need 100 Mbps for your family to stream, play, and work without issue, then 110 Mbps is a good internet speed test result, even if you’re paying for 150 Mbps.

Before you conduct a speed test, see what your plan promises and assess how much bandwidth your household needs. Doing this will put the numbers in context when you interpret your internet speed test.

How to read internet speed test results

When you take an internet speed test, you’re going to get hit with a lot of numbers. Some tests will provide more data than others, but most will reveal these three essential factors:

  • Download speed: Listed in Mbps (Megabits per second), your download speed tells you how fast your connection can receive data from the internet, like when you stream a video or download a file. Providers often cite download speeds in advertising. In measuring this number, the higher, the better.
  • Upload speed: Also measured in Mbps, upload speed indicates how fast your devices can send information to other devices or over the internet. It determines how long it takes to post a new video to social media or the strength of your video call connection. You want to see a higher value. If your upload speed is much lower than your download speed, you could have an asymmetrical internet
  • Latency/ping: Your latency number, measured in milliseconds (ms), tells you how long it takes for a small packet of information to travel from your computer to an external server and back. That period is called latency, but you may also see it referred to as “ping” or “lag.” In this scenario, a lower number is better.

In short, a good speed test result matches the advertised speed reasonably well, is fast enough for everyone in the household to use their devices how they want, and provides symmetrical speeds.

What else can speed test results tell you?

You got your results—now what? Beyond telling you the raw speed of your connection, knowing how to interpret internet speed test results can provide other useful information.

The test can give you a sense of how symmetrical your connection is. An asymmetrical connection wasn’t a big concern in the past because most internet users downloaded a lot of information and rarely uploaded data. Now that two-way video calling, image-rich social media content, and smart devices are a part of everyday life, upload speeds are much more significant. Good speed test results can help you determine whether your symmetrical or asymmetrical connection isn’t sufficient.

Your test results can also help you identify network issues. Compare your internet speed test results using an Ethernet cable and a wireless connection. The Ethernet cable should provide slightly faster results, but if there’s a drastic difference, you may have an outdated router. If that’s the case, upgrading your WiFi router or adding a WiFi mesh should improve your connection’s performance.

Regularly checking your connection can also help to identify issues. You may have a connection or hardware issue if you’re suddenly pulling much lower numbers. Another possibility is that someone might be stealing your bandwidth. Unless you know what’s the norm, you may not be able to spot an issue when it arises.

Speed test results: next steps

Now that you understand your internet speed test results and how they compare to your needs, consider whether your plan is right for you. Is your provider living up to the speeds they promised? Can you perform online activities without lags, interruptions, or loss of quality?

Looking for a faster connection or more symmetrical speeds? Learn about ultra-fast, symmetrical internet from Quantum Fiber.

Content Disclaimer - All content is for informational purposes only, may require user’s additional research, and is provided “as is” without any warranty, condition of any kind (express or implied), or guarantee of outcome or results. Use of this content is at user’s own risk. All third-party company and product or service names referenced in this article are for identification purposes only and do not imply endorsement or affiliation with Quantum Fiber. If Quantum Fiber products and offerings are referenced in the content, they are accurate as of the date of issue. Quantum Fiber services are not available everywhere. Quantum Fiber service usually means 100% fiber-optic network to your location but, in limited circumstances, Quantum Fiber may need to deploy alternative technologies coupled with a non-fiber connection from a certain point (usually the curb) to your location in order to provide the advertised download speeds. ©2024 Q Fiber, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Quantum, Quantum Fiber and Quantum Fiber Internet are trademarks of Quantum Wireless LLC and used under license to Q Fiber, LLC.

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