If you’ve run a speed test on your Internet connection, its likely that you’ve been confused by the results. After all, you ordered a certain service with certain speeds, but the speedtest tells you something different.

A speed test works by sending and receiving small package of data between your computer and the nearest speed test server, which may be hundreds of miles away. The server tracks the data package as it moves to and from your computer and measures how fast it moves.

Following is information to help you interpret the results and understand what influences broadband speed.  You can also go here for additional information on downloading.

How is broadband speed measured?
Broadband, also referred to as high speed internet, can be delivered over several types of connections including cable DSL, fiber and wireless. In each case, broadband speed is measured in terms of the volume of data transferred each second.

The most common measures are kilobits per second (Kbps) and megabits per second (Mbps), where a 1Kbps is equal to 1,000 bits transferred per second and 1Mbps is equal to 1,000,000 bits transferred per second. The more data you can transfer per second, the faster the connection.

Download vs. Upload Speed

There are two measures for broadband speed: download speed and upload speed. The download speed refers to how fast your connection can download files from the Internet and is generally listed first in advertisements and on your broadband bill. The upload speed is listed second and refers to how quickly your connection can upload a file from your computer to the Internet. Upload speed is generally slower than download speed.

Why do speed tests say my connection is slower than I expected?
The speed of any Internet connection is subject to variability and you may not always be running at full speed. So what influences the speed of your connection?

  • Location: If you are close to the head end, central office, or tower that provides your service, then data doesn’t have to travel so far and your speeds are faster.
  • Time of Day: If many people are logged on to the service at once, such as in the evenings, more data must travel across the network and everyone’s speed is reduced.
  • Weather: Certain types of connections are impacted by weather. Severe weather can slow your speed or disrupt your connection.
  • High Demand: If you are visiting a very popular website, the server hosting that site may be struggling to send the requested files to all users visiting the site. This problem is not within the control of your Internet service provider.
  • Your Computer: If your computer is infected with viruses, spyware or other malware, it will process information slowly.
  • Your Home Network: If several people are connected to your home network and are transferring large files at once, your connection will slow down.

If you routinely experience slow speeds, contact your Internet service provider for further assistance.