Do You Need a Broadband Speed Test?

For most of us, the days of connecting to the internet via a 56.6kbps dial-up modem are long gone. It seems incredible that less than ten years ago these were amongst the best connections available to most ordinary people. By contrast, today many people living in urban areas in the UK are able to connect to the internet at speeds in excess of 20Mbps – a truly astonishing increase in speed and power.

Nevertheless this increase in maximum speed has not signalled the end of problems with slow internet connections. Particularly because web designers account for the increasing prevalence of high-speed internet connections, internet users can face serious problems performing simple tasks like browsing or streaming video when connection speeds drop below a certain level.

There are a number of common causes for unusually slow connection speeds. One of the most common is an issue encountered when downloading and uploading data simultaneously. This can create a backlog with ACK packets; your upload may be running faster than ACK packets can be processed, and this can be misunderstood as the result of a slow connection speed by server from which you are downloading. The download server will then match your ‘slow’ connection speed with a slower download speed.

If your broadband connection uses ADSL technology, you may experience slower download speeds at certain times of the day. This is because ADSL is a contended service; this means that the total speed of your internet connection is shared between multiple users. At certain times of day, for example 5am when very few people are online, an ADSL connection may offer blistering performance. On the other hand when a large proportion of internet users are online simultaneously, e.g. 6-7pm on a working day, your internet connection may be slower by a factor of many times.

Sometimes a user perceives their internet connection as being slow when in fact it is running at a normal speed; this is most often the case when users lose access to an ultra high speed internet connection and are unprepared for the relative sluggishness of a budget connection. If you are uncertain whether your internet connection is performing as advertised, you can find a number of broadband speed test tools to help you online.

There are countless broadband speed test services available on a number of websites, some of which offer a number of useful additional features such as a comparison with the global average connection speed. If you find your internet connection speed lacking, you should get in touch with your provider as soon as possible to discuss the problem. If this fails to produce a satisfactory response, you can easily check whether there are alternative high speed broadband networks available in your area.

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