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Choosing a satellite internet plan can be a little overwhelming with the various features and plans that providers offer. It is important to find a plan that fits your budget, needs, and lifestyle. The first step in picking a plan is understanding internet speed. To help you make an informed decision, have a look here at our Complete Guide to Internet Speed.
What is Internet Speed?
The speed that internet providers advertise on their plans (measured in Mbps or Gbps) is the fastest speed they can achieve. Quite simply, speed is a measurement of how fast data can be transferred via your internet connection. A plan that advertises 200 Mbps can move 200 megabytes of data from your device to the network in one second.
Unless you upgrade your internet plan to include more speed, you’re limited to the top speed of the plan you get from your provider. You’ll know if your internet connection is too slow if you notice daily activities like online gaming, streaming, or working from home have become sluggish. Read on to learn what speed and bandwidth are and how they affect the overall performance of your connection.
Bandwidth vs Speed
“Bandwidth” and “internet speed” are used interchangeably, but they actually are two separate measurements of your internet service. Internet speed is how fast data is transferred from your device to your ISP’s network, whereas bandwidth is how much data can be transferred at one time.
Let’s say you have an internet plan that is 1 Mbps, and you need to upload a video that is 10 MB in size. It would take your internet connection 10 seconds to move that 10 MB file from your device to its destination. Now let’s say you have a 10 Mbps internet plan and have the same 10 MB video file to upload. It would take this connection 1 second to transfer it.
Download vs Upload Speeds
Your internet connection is comprised of two different speeds: download speed and upload speed. Download speed is how fast data travels from the internet to your device. For example, you use download speeds when you stream a video or scroll your social feeds. Since most of what we do on the internet involves getting data to our device and therefore matters most in a connection, download speed is used to advertise the speed of your plan.
Upload speed is how fast data travels from your device to the internet. Internet-based activities like uploading a photo to Facebook or sharing a presentation to the cloud for work require upload speed. Since uploading data isn’t as common or frequent as downloading, internet providers often times don’t offer a very fast upload speed.
However, sometimes the download and upload speeds are the same. Symmetrical speeds typically cost more and are usually only available with fiber internet.
Internet vs WiFi
The terms “internet” and “WiFi” are frequently used to describe internet access, but they are two very different things. Internet refers to the overall infrastructure linking millions of computers and servers together from around the world. This infrastructure allows you to transfer data from your device to a server, or some other device, connected to the internet.
WiFi, on the other hand, is a way to connect your devices to the internet wirelessly through a WiFi router. You can also access the internet via a WiFi connection through a hotspot, which many providers offer nationwide as one of their benefits.
You’ve got your speeds and bandwidth, but there is one other factor that affects your internet connection. Sometimes networks get really congested with other subscribers, or maybe there are multiple people using your connection at the same time, both of which can cause buffering and delays. This is known as latency, or the amount of time it takes for data to transfer from your device to your network and then back to your device.
To keep things in perspective, latency is measured in milliseconds, so it is usually unnoticeable. Gamers love low latency, because the less delay there is, the more competitive they are in online multiplayer games. Latency can also affect the stability of a video stream and cause buffering or degraded resolution if the latency is too high (too much delay).
The latency of your connection is largely dependent on your provider and the type of connection. For instance, DSL internet typically has high latency due to low bandwidth. To keep your latency as low as possible, minimize the amount of traffic on your WiFi network, and place your router in an optimal location with as few barriers as possible.
Types of Internet
The greatest factor in the speed and overall performance of your internet service is the type of connection you choose. Not all types of connections are available in all areas, so your choice is limited right from the start. For instance, satellite internet may be the only type available to customers in rural and remote areas.
The most common types of internet connection are:
- Fiber Internet
- Cable Internet
- DSL Internet
- Satellite Internet
- Fixed Wireless Internet
They each have their strengths and weaknesses, and our internet connection types resource provides detailed information and what you can expect from each.
Testing Your Internet Speed
We strongly encourage you to test your internet speed on a monthly basis. Doing so can alert you to any issues your network might be experiencing and ensure that you are getting the speeds you pay for from your provider. An internet speed test result will show you your download speed, upload speed, and latency.
If you notice over time that your speeds decrease or that your latency increases, it may be time to upgrade your plan if that’s an available option. And it may be a good time to negotiate a new monthly rate if your speeds are significantly slower than what is supposed to be included in your plan.
Maximize Your Internet Speeds
It’s important to keep in mind that your internet service provider isn’t always the cause of slow internet. More often than not, your slow internet connection could be the result of various factors that you can resolve easily without calling your ISP.
If you are looking for a new provider or need to find a service with faster speeds, enter your zip code below for a full breakdown of providers and their plans available in your area.
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