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How do I Interpret My Wi-Fi Speed Results?

No one wants to pay for Wi-Fi that has a weak connection and is too slow. How frustrating. There is a way to know if the speeds you are dealing with could be better (spoiler: they usually can always be better). To find out where you stand, you should test your Wi-Fi speed.

Performing a Wi-Fi speed test will tell you the speed of your incoming data, such as how quickly your device loads a website, emails, streaming content and more. This data speed is measured in megabits-per-second (Mbps).

Hopefully you have a good internet service provider (ISP) that does a good job. If they are doing their job correctly, your Wi-Fi download speeds should be close to (ideally the same as) the speed that is on your service plan. However, ISPs are not always perfect and so people deal with slow Wi-Fi connection speeds all of the time. It gets frustrating. That’s when running a Wi-Fi speed test comes in handy to diagnose where your speeds are currently so that you can identify where they should be.

If you need to know more about what a Wi-Fi speed test is, we wrote another article all about Wi-Fi speed tests. But if you have already run a test and you want to know how to understand your speed test results, you are in the right place.

What is a poor Wi-Fi speed?

First, let’s identify what a poor Wi-Fi connection speed is.

Generally speaking, anything below 20 Mbps can be considered a slow Wi-Fi speed. Ideally, 20-25 Mbps is more than enough to perform normal online activities like browsing websites, answering emails, online gaming or streaming video content. In fact, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) says that each household needs a minimum of 25 Mbps. So, anything less than 25 Mbps just isn’t enough for the average household.

Slow Wi-Fi speeds occur when there is something interfering with your Wi-Fi signal strength. Sometimes it’s as simple as your router being too far from your device. Other times Wi-Fi signals weaken because the signals are not able to pass through solid objects like walls or buildings.

However, your environment or router position isn’t the only reason why you might deal with slow Wi-Fi speeds. Again, most ISPs only provide a portion of what you are actually paying for. For example, if you pay for 10 Mbps, your average speed is likely to be closer to 3-4 Mbps. That is why you should run a speed test to make sure you know exactly what you are getting for your money.

How do I know if I have a bad one?

Using a Wi-Fi speed test tool will help you identify your current internet speeds. There are free tools out there that will give you results; however paid tools are always more reliable and give you more accurately measured data for your dollar.

What your internet speed test means

  • Download speed is the time that it takes to pull data (measured in Mbps).
  • Upload speed is the time that it takes to send data (measured in Mbps).
  • Ping speed the time that it takes to send a request and receive a response (measured in ms).

Ideally, your download speeds will be the fastest (highest number). This is because you use download speed for the majority of online content. Upload speeds are important for interactive video calls and sending files. Ping speeds determine the quality of video and voice calls and the ability to play online games. When reading your speed test results, remember that the higher the number the better. Also, the closest the numbers are to what you are paying for, the better.

You can learn more about home networking and Wi-Fi speeds with Actiontec’s Complete Guide to WiFi Networking. For the latest news in technology, check out Actiontec’s blog.