Internet Connection: Getting the Speed You Need

Having trouble streaming video? Consumer Reports says it’s time to get the speed you need. Here’s how.

How fast should your high-speed Internet connection be?

Consumer Reports suggests verifying that you are getting the speed you need, especially if you’re paying for better performance than you’re receiving.

The popular movie and TV show streaming service Netflix recommends a download speed of 5 megabits per second for HD-quality video.

However, Consumer Reports says that is insufficient for a multiple-person household:

Given how much data Americans consume, 5 Mbps isn’t going to cut it since performance can suffer as your broadband speed is split among more simultaneous users and/or activities.

You can check your Internet speed on websites like Ookla’s Speedtest.net. Consumer Reports recommends testing it multiple times over the course of a few days, including at varying times of day.

For streaming video, it’s important to focus on the download speed. If you upload a lot of photos or videos or play games online, pay close attention to the upload speed.

If your Internet isn’t delivering the speed you need, Consumer Reports offers the following tips:

  • To help determine if an older modem or router is part of the problem, verify that your router supports the 802.11n standard “at the very least,” Consumer Reports says. If not, ask your Internet service provider about getting a newer model that supports a newer standard, called AC, that is capable of faster speeds.
  • To determine whether your wireless connection is part of the problem, switch to a wired connection and retest your Internet speeds.
  • If your wireless connection is spotty, try moving your router to a more central location. Also make sure it’s away from obstructions like walls or ceilings, and never keep it in a closet or cabinet.
  • If you suspect interference from a microwave oven or cordless phone system, for example, consider switching to a dual-band router that can operate on both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies. “Switching to the higher 5 GHz band can help avoid interference from other devices that operate in the 2.4 GHz range,” Consumer Reports explains.
  • For intermittent problems, try rebooting your modem and routers by unplugging their power connections for about 30 seconds. “Sometimes simply restarting these devices will help clear up any issues,” Consumer Reports says.

Are you happy with your Internet speeds? Have you taken any steps to improve them? Share your thoughts in a comment below or on Facebook.

Stacy Johnson

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