Megabits; Mbps; latency; ping rates; download speeds; upload speeds—these are some of the common terms bandied about by ISPs promoting internet plans. GVEC uses these terms, too, but what do they really mean?
Here’s a brief explanation of each, followed by instructions for how to run a test that measures where you stand on these aspects of internet connectivity: the internet speed test.
What is a Megabit?
A “megabit” is the standard unit for expressing the speed of an internet connection. It was preceded by the “kilobit,” which was itself preceded by the “bit”—the smallest measure of the transmission speed of digital information. A kilobit is made up of 1,000 bits, while a megabit is made up of 1,000 kilobits or 1,000,000 total bits. The gigabit—1,000,000,000 total bits—comes after the megabit.
It’s easy to confuse a bit for a “byte,” and the two express equal amounts of data. However, a bit represents the speed at which data travels over a connection, whereas a byte represents the amount of data compiled on an end-user’s device. Kilo, mega and giga all represent the same amount of data used with “byte” as when used with “bit.”
Definition of Mbps
Mbps stands for “megabits per second.” It is the total amount of information sent across an internet connection.
Definition of Latency Rate
Latency rate is a measure of how long it takes a packet of data from an internet server (where all internet data originates) to reach your computer and vice versa. This term is also known as a “ping rate.” Basically, the lower a connection’s latency, the better.
The related term “jitter,” describes the variability of a connection’s latency rate. As with latency, the lower the jitter, the better. High latencies and jitter rates are especially problematic with video conferencing and online gaming.
Definition of Download Speed
Downloading is the process of receiving data from the internet. Download speed is the rate at which an ISP delivers data over a connection. Examples of online activities that require downloaded data include:
- Browsing the web
- Streaming movies and music
- Scrolling social media feeds
- Shopping online
- Much more
The speed rating associated with virtually all internet plans is the download speed. It’s important to keep in mind that a plan’s advertised rating is the maximum bandwidth possible through the plan. This means the connection may not always deliver data at that speed but should usually come reasonably close.
What is Upload Speed?
Uploading is the process of sending data to the internet. Upload speed is the rate at which a user can send data over the connection. Examples of online activities that require data uploads include:
- Sending an email
- Online gaming
- Backing up data to cloud storage
- Entering search engine terms
- Posting to social media feeds
- Video conferencing
Downloaded Data Drives More Online Experiences
Most internet activities rely far more on downloaded data than uploaded. Additionally, uploaded information is usually sent to a specific internet destination and not to “the internet” in general, requiring less data overall. For these reasons, many internet plans offer substantially faster download speeds than upload speeds.
Fiber is an exception to this rule. Fiber connections often offer upload speeds and download speeds that, if not equal, are much closer, creating a more reliable connection.
Why Run an Internet Speed?
An internet speed test can provide quantifiable measures of your connection’s speed and reliability. The test can serve as a baseline diagnostic for helping identify any problems you might be experiencing with performance.
Running an Internet Speed Test
Before running a speed test, it’s important to make sure there are no other devices currently logged onto the network. Other network devices in use during a speed test will actively use bandwidth, automatically skewing test results lower.
Additionally, you’ll also want to run the test on a computer that’s hardwired into the network via an ethernet connection. Although wireless speeds on a network can be similar to an ethernet connection, wireless devices may have built-in speed limitations, or can be more vulnerable to fluctuations and interference from other electronic devices—even those that are outside your living space. For the most accurate and consistent testing numbers, then, a hardwired connection is important.
For Best Results, We Recommend GVEC’s Internet Speed Test
There are many tests available, but we recommend GVEC Internet subscribers use http://gvec.speedtestcustom.com/. After the page loads, just click on the big round “GO” button to begin the test.
The picture attached here show the results of a GVEC Internet Speed Test. The 1 ms (milliseconds) ping rate is excellent—well above average for broadband connections—while the 0 ms jitter rate is outstanding. Notice, too, that the upload speed is higher than the download speed, which is not unusual for fiber-internet connections, but almost unheard of with traditional broadband technology. Even so, the download speed is also excellent and well in line with what should be expected with fiber-based connections.
Call GVEC Internet to Learn More
If you’re having trouble running an internet speed test or having issues with your GVEC Internet connection in general, we’re here to help. Just call 800.699.4832. Our friendly customer service representatives can guide you through the process of running a successful speed test. They can also provide further insights into the numbers behind your test, including additional tests to measure other important aspects of your service.