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What’s Up With Slow Internet Connections?

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Published On: July 19, 2018 by Blake Schwank

Everyone loves to surf the web but when you click on a link, then have to sit there and wait for the page to load, it drives you nuts. What are you paying all that money to the provider for if you can’t get a simple page on the latest soccer match to load? You’re paying top dollar for the fastest Internet speeds but at times, it feels like that little “Wheel of Death” is never going to stop spinning.

Ready to get to the bottom of slow Internet traffic? Hop on board and we’ll check it out and see what’s causing all the slow-downs.

All About Wi-fi Traffic

Since most people download a lot more data than they upload, Internet speeds are usually asynchronous. Your download speed might be 10-25 Mbps, while the upload speed is only 3 Mbps. This gives you a good speed to stream a 720p high-definition video, but some videos might take as much as 20 minutes to download. If you’re just surfing the web or reading the latest social media posts, then you should have no problems.

Having said that, it’s important to note that how fast a site loads or a video can be streamed, depends on more than just your broadband speed. Just like traffic on a freeway, it takes a lot longer to get to work during rush hour than it does if you simply leave later in the morning. The exact same route to work might take 42 minutes if you leave at 8 a.m., but if you wait till 10 a.m., you can make it in 28 minutes. Of course, your boss might be upset if you’re two hours late for work, but at least you avoided rush hour traffic stress.

The same thing is true for surfing the internet. There are times of the day when traffic is slower. If you’re a late-night surfer and it’s 2 in the morning, Internet traffic will be light. But if you’re trying to surf the web at say, 9 a.m., you can expect some snafus. That’s about the time each day when people get to work or wake up and turn on their computers to check their email.

Another big deal with Internet speeds is the number of devices you have connected. If you ask most people, they’ll say they only have a couple of devices connected to the Internet so this shouldn’t be a problem. However, try this: sit down with pen and paper and make a list of every device in your household that’s connected to Wi-Fi.

Here’s the typical device inventory list:

  • 2 computers
  • 3 Smart TVs
  • 3 Smartphones
  • 2 Set Top Boxes
  • 1 Tablet Computer

Wow! That’s a lot of devices. Most people don’t realize how many different things they have connected to the Internet. Doing an inventory is a great way to find out. The above list has 11 Wi-Fi enabled devices on it. Naturally, if six of them are currently turned on and connected to the Web, your upload and download speeds will be slower than if you just have two of them connected at the moment.

The quality of your internet connection is impaired to some extent when you have all devices going at the same time. Typically, that won’t happen. Most families never have all the phones, computers, and cable boxes running and connected to the Internet at once.

Should You Pay More For Faster Load Speeds?

This is a tough question to answer. Average internet users can get by with download speeds of around 60Mbps. That’s a pretty average speed that’s fairly affordable. But what if you’re a lawyer and need to download huge case files sometimes? Or what if you make whiteboard videos for clients? In that case, it’s probably best to go with something much faster, say 250Mbps.

If you have the money for it, you can get 1000Mbps, which is lightning fast no matter what you’re downloading. For homes that have an unusually high number of connected devices, it can pay to spend more and get faster broadband speeds. If you’re on a tight budget, the basic package usually includes 15Mbps. At this speed, you will need to be very patient when streaming or downloading videos.

Heavy downloaders do exist. But most of us could make it fine with 150Mbps download and that will fit into most budgets. Remember that broadband speed depends on 3 things:

  1. How many users in the household?
  2. How many connected devices?
  3. How much Internet traffic at the moment?

2.4 Ghz Versus 5.0 Ghz Frequency

Another big fact is wireless frequencies. These determine range and bandwidth. 5.0GHz offers much faster data rates at shorter distances. 2.4GHz gives you better coverage for long distances but may be slower. Range is all about how far your data can travel. Typically, the higher the frequency, the shorter its range. High-frequency signals can’t penetrate walls and floors as well as low-frequency signals. So 2.4GHz can travel further than 5.0GHz.

Bandwidth is all about speed. The higher your bandwidth, the faster your files will download and upload. For a good video streaming experience, you need high-bandwidth applications. This will give you fast, flawless streaming. Therefore, 5GHz is a better option than 2.4 GHz.

The big problem here is that many devices do not allow you to choose your frequency. They only use the 2.4 GHz frequency. Plus, there are only 3 channels available for use on the 2.4GHz band. This results in overcrowding in the “radio space.”

The 5GHz band has 23 available channels for devices to use but isn’t available to many users. The good news is that technology is changing all the time. No telling what new inventions could disrupt this industry in the future.

If slow internet speeds have you bummed about your streaming experience, then speak to your Internet service provider or an IT specialist. It may be possible to install commercial-grade routers. IT professionals have lots of tricks up their sleeves. They can check for signal inference, scan for viruses, or look for other issues that may be slowing down your Internet connections.

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