Internet Speed - How Much Do You Really Need?
Published January 23, 2018
Recently I increased my internet speed from 100 Mbps to 200 Mbps. The thought of that type of increase got me drunk with possibilities. Imagine my surprise when I performed a speed test and my computer’s actual speed ranged between 5 Mbps and 20 Mbps. No matter how you slice it, that’s a far cry from the anticipated 200 Mbps promised by my cable company.
My android tablet and iPhone did fare a little better, but still a far cry from 200 Mbps. Little did I know that the slow speed was a three-fold problem. Two of the issues were relatively easy to fix. The third was in my cable company's domain.
Reasons for Slow Internet Speed
In talking to the technician, who was extremely patient and took time to explain things to me, I found out the reasons for the crawling internet were as follows:
Correcting the Problem #1: Incorrect Modem
The technician replaced the modem. That was easy and quick. Doing so did manage to increase the speed just a bit, but still nowhere near 200 Mbps. My computer sped up to about 26 Mbps. My tablet managed to crank along at 75 Mbps.
Correcting Problem # 2: Computer Network Adapter
The wireless cable modem transmits two frequency ranges, 2.4 GHz (slow and steady) and 5 GHz (fast but doesn't have the range of 2.4 GHz). For more information about the two frequencies check out Netgear's article, What is the Difference between 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz.
The network cards on my Windows 10 and Windows 8.1 computers were oblivious to the 5 GHz frequencies. It was more than they could handle so they just ignored the 5G option. As a result, I could only connect wirelessly using the slower 2.4GHz frequency. The reason had something to do with the network card being 802.11 g/b/n and not g/b/n/ac. Realizing I was developing the far away, glazed over look as the technician got too techy, he stopped explaining and asked me to bring up Amazon on my computer. That brought me right back to the present moment.
While on Amazon he told me to search for an “ac wifi adapter.” I did as he instructed and found small USB dongles. He explained that these little dongles are the gateway for connecting my Windows laptop and desktops to the 5 GHz wireless frequency. He then explained that if he had his own large business and needed such adapters he would purchase the Netgear brand. However, for my purposes, any ac wireless adapter would do. So I chose one Netgear and two Novel adapters. Netgear was more than twice as expensive as Novel. Did I mention that I'm
Installing the WiFi Adapters
Once the mail person delivered the wifi adapters, I opened the package and installed the drivers (software) first. That’s very important. If you purchase a wifi adapter, always install the drivers before plugging in the adapter. With the proper drivers installed, I plugged in the adapter. Just as a precaution, I disabled the old adapter. I didn't’ want to run the chance of the old adapter picking up the 2.4 GHz signal instead of the faster 5Ghz.
Disabling the old adapter on my Windows 10 computer was pretty easy. Instructions below just in case you decide to do the same thing:
The instructions were basically the same with the Windows 8.1 computer, but instead of start I went through the Control Panel to find the Device Manager. I'm not as familiar with Windows 8.1.
Correcting Problem #3 -Cable Company Intervention
Everything on the inside of my house was set and ready to enjoy 200 Mbps of internet speed. However, the roadblock to my speed was situated on the outside of the house. Therefore, the “outside” technicians had to do their outside thing. It took a couple of days for the outside technicians to complete their work.
Resolving the issue also required a few more calls to the cable company and another inside technician visit, but I finally achieved the 200 Mbps internet speed as promised (more or less). Because signals are affected by things such as walls, doors, large electronic equipment (like a refrigerator), time of day, whether or not my neighbor is vacuuming and other such interferences, the 200 Mbps isn’t always constant. That’s fine by me. Having a dip in speed that goes as low as 125 Mbps is fine. It’s when it goes to 5 Mbps that I have an issue.
Strong Internet Speed, Devices and Location
All this talk of internet speed had me testing every device in my house. I tested the computers and they test from 83 Mbps (furthest away from the modem/router) to 170 Mbps. The iPhones and tablet range between 170 and 220 Mbps depending on where I’m standing. The Amazon Fire TV Sticks got as high as 110 Mbps. I’m a happy camper!
The only problem I have with the Fire TV Stick, however, is when I connect IPVanish. With IPVanish connected, the speed drops to about 20 Mbps, 25 Mbps on a good day. That’s also fine as long as movies don’t buffer. However, since purchasing the PlayStation Vue streaming service, I barely use IPVanish, Mobdro or Terrarium TV so the slower IPVanish speed hasn’t been a problem.
Tools Used to Test Internet Speed
In case anyone is curious, I used the following tools to test internet speed:
Honestly speaking, I don’t know if I even need 200 Mbps of internet speed. But, it’s better to have it and not need it than to need and not have it.
Felicia (aka Low Tech Grandma) is a wife, mother, grandmother, freelance writer and low tech blogger.
Last Modified: 10 February 2023
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