Those of you who know what I do for a living during the day know that it’s not only my career but my personal mission in life to help people. I got fed up with ISPs promising certain speeds, but not actually delivering. They always have some excuse and blame the connection on your equipment or wiring. Then they want to sent a technician to your home to fix the problem. Do not believe what they tell you until you verify it yourself. Instead, use the information below to hold your ISPs accountable for delivering what they promise. Here are some easy steps to help you get what you pay for:
Do not pay for internet speed you cannot receive. Check your wireless card and modem to see if they are capable of the speed you pay your ISP for. If you have an older card that only supports a 30Mbps connection, you should not pay for premier or gigabit service because the card cannot go any faster. Example: You can ride a bicycle (your card & modem) on a road with a 75 MPH speed limit (your ISP), but you cannot pedal a bicycle that fast. Therefore, you should stay on the bike path.
If you have a card and modem that are capable of certain speeds and you are paying for those speeds, make sure you get them.
Test your internet speed. Go to http://www.speedtest.net/ and click the “Begin Test” button. It will show your upload and download speeds. It is best to do this from a computer that is directly connected to your modem, not through a wireless connection.
Take screenshots of these tests and save them in case you need to report service issues to entities such as the FCC, Attorney General, BBB, etc. To take a screenshot:
1) Press the [ALT] and the [Pause/Break] keys simultaneously
2) Open Word or Paint
3) Press the [CTRL] and the [V] keys simultaneously
Test your internet connection:
1) On Windows computers, go to Start/Run
2) Type “cmd” then press the [Enter] key
3) At the command prompt, type “pathping www.microsoft.com” then press the [Enter] key
4) Wait. Wait some more. Eventually, you will get a screen full of what may look like gobbledygook to you, but is really showing you if there are any issues with your connection.
5) Is it me or is it my ISP?
a) If entries 0 and 1 show 0% Lost/Sent, your connection from your computer to your modem is good. If they show any packet loss [any number (e.g., 5%, 7%, 24%) in the in the Lost/Sent column], this connection is bad and the problem could be your network card, wire, or modem.
b) If entries 1 and 2 show 0% Lost/Sent, your connection from your modem to your ISP is good. If they show any packet loss, this connection is bad and it could be either your modem or your ISP’s gateway.
NOTE: a and b could also be your home’s wiring (inside or outside). However, the problem is most like a malfunctioning filter. If you do not subscribe to the ISP’s top TV tier, they install a filter on the outside line to keep you from getting channels to which you do not subscribe. These filters frequently interfere with internet service speeds because the TV and the Internet use the same lines.
c) If entries 2 through the end of anything that shows your ISP’s name (Cox Communications is the example below) show 0% Lost/Sent, your ISP has good connections at their company. Example:
5 langbprj01-ae1.rd.la.cox.net [22.214.171.124]
If they show any packet loss, your ISP’s internal connections are suspect and the problem is on their end.
REPEAT THESE TESTS EVERY MONTH OR SO
I found that ISPs tend to deliver high speed, then gradually lower your speed over time…the dreaded “slow fade.” I suspect they think you will not notice and will end up buying a faster speed package…Anyway, their reps will tell you they do not do this and that it is not possible. However, internet connection speeds are lowered via network prioritization, bandwidth throttling, traffic shaping, and even by downgrading your connection based upon your modem’s MAC address. Look these terms up online; there is no space for the definitions here.
I hope this post saves you a few headaches and some money!
Note to my techie friends: Yes, I used Windows as the example. Yes, there are other operating systems out there. However, if you’re running Ubuntu, RedHat, Mandrake, etc., you probably already know how to do all this troubleshooting and you already do it regularly, right? 😉