While we all prefer to access the Internet at the promised ISP speed at all times, we frequently encounter situations where we obtain far lower speeds and sometimes, even bad network performance. The precise causes for such scenarios can be enumerated under the following basic categories:
ISP Related Factors that Considerably Slowdown Network Speeds
The physical distance between you and your Internet Service Provider – When data traverses along the physical medium put in place by your ISP, it is bound to encounter hops while passing through routers and other network devices. The greater the distance, the higher the chances of slower network speeds.
Traffic Handled by Your ISP Network – An ISP operates on a fixed bandwidth for your network, and if other users on your network exchange massive amounts of data, then you are likely to experience a slowdown
The Infrastructure Hosted by Your ISP – Network connectors, cables, routers and servers, all work together in conjunction with the wireless connections to ascertain the final speed that is delivered by your ISP. The characteristics of the physical medium and devices define the processing power of your network.
The Way You Connect to a Network and its Impact on Network Speed
Your Operating System and Software Used – Malware or old software running on your system will most likely cause delays in network speeds.
The Number of People Accessing a Single ISP Connection – When multiple users at your home or office try to access the network at the same time, the bandwidth is automatically distributed, and you only get access to a fraction of the overall capacity assigned to your connection. In the case of streaming media and large downloads, you might experience even slower network speeds.
How Often You Access the Network during Peak Traffic Time – Every ISP network has peak times when the largest amount of traffic passes through the network. Accessing your files at this period will most likely result in slow processing and accession speeds
Your Monthly Download Limit – You might sometimes exceed your daily or monthly download limits, in which case your ISP might deliberately offer slow speeds, as per your subscription agreement.
The Right Tests for Your Network Speed
Prominent test tools that can acquaint you with your present network speed include:
- Ookla Speed Test – Designed for Android and iPhone devices, the application delivers speed results for a 30 second period. Tests for both upload and download speeds are available as part of the interface. The results are presented as graphs for different types of networks including EVDO, EDGE, LTE, 3G and 4G. For more accurate result, it is best to use an independent Ookla server outside the control of your ISP. Ookla is also available for iPhone and allows you to run multiple tests anytime as well as share graphical results with users or your ISP.
- Bandwidth Place is a speed test designed for running network speed evaluation right from your desktop and exclusively targeted at UK, Canadian residents, and US. To execute the speed test, you just need a browser, either IE, Chrome or Safari, through which you can gain access to around 19 servers globally, for testing your network speeds.
- DSL Reports is another speed test for desktop computers, with a rich feature set including tests for bandwidth that may or may not involve encryption. DSL Reports can also derive results for multiple servers.
- ZDNet also offers speed tests that you can run from your desktop, along with comparative network speed statistics for different countries.
- Speedof.Me for desktop computers is a browser-based tool to run your speed test either from your mobile or your desktop and has a reputation of delivering accurate results consistently. The program allocates servers, which run the test according to an inbuilt algorithm. However, users can choose the nature of data or file they will be using to test upload and download speeds.
So, what is the right plan of action when you find that your ISP is not delivering the promised speed?
When you experience a slowdown in your network, it is not always advisable to report the problem instantly. Rather, you might choose to ignore a difference of just 20-35% decrease in network speed.
However, when in certain cases, when there is considerable slowdown exceeding 50% of the promised speed, you might request an audit. By following this approach, you can successfully ensure that your ISP has not mistakenly offered you a lower speed and ask for a courteous refund in case of any mistake on the part of your ISP.