Why Am I Not Getting Gigabit Speeds?
April 1, 2021
Many Internet users who are on a 1 Gbps plan wonder why they have never actually seen 1,000 Mbps when they do a speed test; even under the best circumstances. There will always be a difference between the bandwidth your Internet service provider gives you (even providers that deliver what they promise), and what you actually experience in your network or on a speed test—why is that? In this post, we talk about the causes for this, and break down the factors affecting your speeds that you can control as well as the ones you can’t.
Check Your Devices
It’s possible that the computer or device you're using to connect to the Internet is simply not built to handle a fast wireless network. From your Internet provider to your device, your speeds will only be as fast as the weakest, or slowest, link. This means even if you have a direct fiber connection and the best modem and router money can buy, an old or slow computer or device can still bring down your speeds dramatically.
Check Your Router
If you're on a 1,000 Mbps plan, make sure your router was built to support it. Just like with your devices, your speeds will only be as fast as your router will allow them to be. If you know your router can support gigabit speeds, try troubleshooting it. If you haven't already, running through the outlined steps could help. Making sure your router is new, well-placed, at the right frequency, and properly boosted (if it needs to be) can be what makes the difference between the speeds you're currently seeing and the speeds you could be receiving.
Consider Using A Hardwired Connection
You can expect sufficient speeds from most wireless connections offered today. However, if you're disappointed with your current speeds you can always connect your computer directly to your router with a Cat5e or Cat6 Ethernet cable to immediately get a faster connection. Of course, whether this solution is viable depends on how many devices you're trying to connect and whether you typically use them close to your router. But if there are not many heavy Internet users in your house and you only have a few devices to connect, you can see faster speeds on them by connecting them with Ethernet cables. Something to consider if you do this is that not all laptops have Ethernet ports. Some may require an adapter. If you use one, make sure it is gigabit-capable. You can find plenty of gigabit-capable Ethernet adaptors for your laptop online.
Unfortunately, there are some factors that you cannot change if you're trying to see faster speeds on a speed test, and a big one is overhead. Think of this like any other kind of overhead; an indirect cost that cannot be immediately associated with the service it's helping to provide. In this case, it's the data being sent between your computer, router, and Internet service provider that has overhead. A payload of data that is sent over a network requires more than the payload itself. It requires extra control and signaling data that ensures the payload arrives at the correct destination. Think of it as paying the shipping cost when you order something online; the extra amount you pay does nothing for the product itself, but it's what enables you to receive and ultimately use it.
Another factor that contributes to overhead is the role your modem plays in transferring the data to and from your network. Your modem converts information from your computer into analog signals that can transmit over wires, and vice versa. This process will take away from your overall speeds as well, but it is critical for your Internet connection to work. This is why people with gigabit plans usually top out at 940 Mbps when they do a speed test. Those 60 Mbps aren't being withheld or wasted; they represent the data from your plan that is already used to ensure the files you are uploading and downloading reach the correct destination and are transferred properly. If that those are the speeds you are seeing on a Mbps plan, you can rest assured that you are using and benefitting from every single megabit per second that you are paying for. If you're seeing significantly lower speeds, even after completing the troubleshooting steps above, you may need to look into your Internet service provider.
Your Internet Service Provider
Another potential cause for slower speeds that cannot always be changed is your Internet service provider. If you've gone through the steps above, but your speeds are nowhere near what your plan states, even when you account for overhead, there might be a problem with your Internet provider's service. There are certain signs you can look out for if that's the case.
One sign to watch for is asymmetrical speeds. When you do a speed test, how different or similar are your upload and download speeds? Many providers don't offer symmetrical speeds, especially ones that use DSL or cable networks. You'll often see that the download speed is significantly faster than the upload speed. For people who casually use the Internet, this may not be a big deal. But it's important for heavy Internet users such as people working from home, content creators, and gamers. If you're uploading a PDF, large graphic file, or a video, you need an Internet provider that doesn't skimp on upload speeds.
Another sign to look out for is whether your speeds are abnormally slow at certain times of the day. If they are, especially in the evening when other users in your neighborhood are coming home from work, it is possible that your Internet service provider is not able to accommodate everyone during peak usage hours. This will be far less likely to happen if you use a fiber connection.
If you've noticed either of the above signs in your Internet service, it may be time to get a fiber a Internet provider into your community. Register your address here to check for availability and to receive updates on how soon we are likely to bring Tachus fiber to your neighborhood.