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Learn what the results mean for you

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What to look for when doing a speed test

Whether you’re thinking about switching to a new broadband deal, or just curious about your current internet speed, there’s a lot of information to take in. Read our most popular questions and find out how you can get the most out of a speed test.

⚡️ Speed information

You should run a broadband speed test to help you decide whether it’s time to upgrade your broadband to get faster internet or if you need to contact your provider because you’re not getting the speed you’re paying for.

Broadband speed is affected by a few things, including: 

  • The cables – fibre optic cables mean faster internet because they use light to move data around while traditional copper wires use sound frequencies
  • Multiple users – if multiple people are using the internet, each device will be trying to download and/or upload data at the same time, so it’ll be slower the more people that are using it 
  • Your device – how our devices send and receive internet data is getting better all the time. This can mean that older devices won’t benefit from the full speed of your internet connection purely because of their outdated tech

To get the most accurate results from a broadband speed test, you can: 

  • Turn off your computer’s wifi and connect it to the router with an ethernet cable 
  • Switch off any other devices using the internet, like TVs and smartphones
  • Restart your router and computer. Turn them back on after five minutes.
  • Once your computer is back on, close down as many programs as possible
  • Open your browser and start the broadband speed test

🔎 Jargon-buster

Broadband speed is measured in megabits per second (Mbps) – ‘mega’ as in ‘million’, and ‘bits’ meaning ‘bits of data’.

A broadband speed test calculates how many bits of data your device can download per second. 

So for example, your device might be able to download 30 million bits of data per second, which would be shown as 30Mbps. Put in context, a good quality photo is about 2 million bits (2Mb), so based on an internet speed of 30Mbps, you could download 15 photos in one second.

Ping is how responsive your internet is and it’s measured in milliseconds (ms) – so the lower the number, the quicker your internet is. 

For example, if you’re trying to move an image on an online document, a good ping is if the movement happens instantly. If there’s a noticeable delay, then your ping rate isn’t as good.

When you do anything using the internet, data is broken down. The pieces or ‘bits’ are sent where they need to go and then put back together again. If there’s a delay sending some of these bits, this causes jitter. 

You might have experienced jitter as choppy audio on an online call or if a film you’re watching becomes blurry.

Download speed is how quickly what you’re trying to view appears on your device.

Watching a film or scrolling through social media are some examples of downloading.

Upload speed is how fast what you’re doing is sent through the internet. 

Video calls and screen sharing are examples of uploading. Online gaming does both downloading (so you can see what other gamers are doing) and uploading (so the others can see what you’re doing).

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