The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Brianna Wray
The Times 

Tech Talk: Internet speed test

 

January 14, 2021

A screenshot of a test run to check The Times connection rate.

Happy New Year, Techies! Auld lang syne and all that jazz. Welcome to 2021. If getting the most out of what you already pay for is on your resolutions list, then let's have a look at our internet service providers (ISPs).

Internet speed is measured in megabits per second (Mbps). One megabit is equal to 1,024 kilobits. This conversion means 1.0 Mbps is more than 1,000 times faster than 1.0 kilobits per second (Kbps).

Internet speed is calculated with the formula:

File Size in Megabytes / (Download Speed in Megabits / 8) = Time in Seconds.

A 15 Megabyte file, downloading at 10 Megabits per second: 15 / (10/8) = 12 seconds.

ISPs frequently use the terms bandwidth and speed interchangeably when, in fact, there is a subtle difference between them. Bandwidth is the maximum amount of data that can be transmitted over an internet connection, as measured in megabits per second (Mbps).

Speed is the rate at which data can be downloaded (or uploaded) to a given device using that internet connection, also measured in megabits per second.

Think of it this way: data is traveling over the internet cable like water in a pipe. Bandwidth is the width of that pipe-essentially, the maximum volume of water (data) that can pass through at once. Meanwhile, speed is the number of megabits per second that can be downloaded by a given device using your home network. Speed is more accurately called "throughput," meaning the rate at which data is "put through" to your laptop/phone/etc.

So, if you're finding your connections failing or lagging, consider yourself a plumber. Do you need a bigger pipe or a plunger?

To test your internet speed, well, of course, there's an app for that. Speedtest.net, also known as Speedtest by Ookla, is a web service that provides free analysis of Internet access performance metrics, such as connection data rate and latency through any web browser. Ookla is a web testing and network diagnostics company founded in 2006 and based in Seattle, Washington, United States. Ookla also offers free native apps for Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, Chrome, and AppleTV.

Spectrum users have access to a portal that offers speed tests with one click. AT&T and other big-name companies have their own as well. But how much speed does one really need? The answer depends upon the number of devices regularly used (don't forget to count Bluray disc players, smart TVs, computers, tablets with service, in addition to each cell phone). Five to forty Mbps is more than sufficient to stream a standard-definition video or have a video chat on one device. It'll take 40-100 Mbps to stream high-definition video, download large files or enjoy online multiplayer game spaces. If you're really into gaming with multiple screens and all the fixin's, or you prefer a multimedia experience streaming a movie on TV while Googling the cast of that movie on your phone, with a recipe for dinner pulled up on your tablet, etc., 100-500 Mbps will be the ideal range.

Compare Your Results

Ookla's other outstanding feature is the speed test global index, which shares a running ranking of the fastest internet the world over.

At the time of publication, the fastest internet in the world was in Singapore, where they clocked an average download speed of 241.10 Mbps, followed by Hong Kong (SAR), whose download speed is 222.92 Mbps, and Thailand at 213.14 Mbps.

The United States was down in the rankings at number 11 with a download rate of 170.88 Mbps. The internet's increasing importance in education, tracking our medical health, finances, and other essential data has made this public utility a hot commodity.

Sources: broadbandnow.com, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speedtest.net

 

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