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Interpreting speed test results

Here are the basics of how your internet connection speed was tested and what the download/upload numbers mean.


Firewall: Tests if your Local Area Network (LAN) is protected by a firewall.

Ping: Requests are sent to a selected server and the time it takes to get a response is measured. This is a basic test of your Internet connectivity.

Jitter: A measurement of the variance among successive ping tests. The lower the jitter value the better indicating that there is minimal difference in speed from one ping test to another.

Packet Loss: This is exactly what it sounds like – the number of packets travelling across a computer network that fail to reach their destination. Packet loss can cause jitter with streaming technologies, resulting in inconsistent performance.

Connection speeds are measured in megabits per second (Mbps).

Download speed
The number provided here represents the number of Mbps your connection is allowed to travel from a website to your network. When it comes to reading, playing games, viewing video and listening to streaming music on the web, this is the key number. The download speed is the number that your Internet service provider (ISP) uses to differentiate their different plans.
If your ISP does a good job, the download speed you get from speed test will be close to the one your service provider associates with your plan.

Upload speed
The number provided here is the number of Mbps your connection allows you to send from your computer to a website. Because so much online activity is interactive, your upload speed is important because it will determine how well you are able to work with web-based applications. ISPs don’t pay as much attention to upload speeds in their marketing, but you should be able to find the expected performance noted somewhere on their website.
As with your download speed, your upload speed should be close to the speed your service provider associates with your plan. What speed should you have, If the Speedtest shows your connection is working as your ISP says it should but you’re still not happy with your computer’s performance, you have a number of options:

  1. Check your home network to make sure it is operating properly. We have a Tech Tip that will help with this.
  2. Your computer may need a little a little work. We have a 2 Minute Miracle video on our YouTube channel that will show you how to clean it up a bit.
  3. You may need to upgrade your Internet service plan. To know what to expect by connection speed, see our below.

Download Speeds:

1-4 Mbps
Generally, this is the lowest level of service available in most areas. Email and most web sites will load fine and most music streaming services will work without interruption. Internet phone services (VOIP) should have no trouble. But Standard Definition (SD) videos will buffer on occasion.

4-6 Mbps
According to the Federal Communications Commission, this is the minimum speed “generally required for using today’s video rich broadband applications and services.” Users at this speed should not have any trouble with streaming audio or video. Service at this speed will allow some file sharing and should work fine for streaming Internet TV (IP TV).

6-10 Mbps
For online gamers and heavy video-on-demand, this is the preferred speed. This speed delivers uninterrupted online gaming and smooth on-demand video as long as only one device is using a high bandwidth service.

10-15 Mbps
Users at this speed say they have noticed the increase in speed. Web sites drop right into the browser and your interaction with web-based applications and cloud services will be much quicker. Will help you interact with more complex online applications like remote education services, telemedicine and high definition Internet TV.

15-50 Mbps
If you have a number of devices connected to your network and want to use them at the same time without delays, this may be the speed for you. With the explosion of electronic products that can be connected to the Internet, keeping them all working at peak performance is going to be an increasing challenge. Multiple simultaneous connections will require this level of service.

50+ Mbps
Speed like this is not usually seen feeding home networks. The main reasons for such blazing download speed are commercial – video conferencing, real-time data collection and intense remote computing. But again, with the explosion of web-enabled devices in homes, speed like this may someday become the new normal. Remember, we used to access the Internet with dial-up modems.