How To Deciper Your Internet Speeds
Most people have only two requirements of t heir i nternet service: speed and consistency. When it comes time to upgrade, numbers just look like, well, numbers, and bigger can usually be assumed to be better.
But what is the difference between 50 Mbps and 300 Mbps, exactly? And is it worth paying an extra $20 a month for a little more juice?
This week, I called Shannon Sandry, director of consumer product management at Hawaiian Telcom, to get to the bottom of things.
- tails. Mbps stands for megabits per second, and it refers to the rate of data download and upload on your connection. Hawaiian Telcom, for context, offers speeds ranging from 7 Mbps to 1 GB. More megabits translate to greater speed — at least on paper.
The major factor in determining what internet speed is right for you, says Sandry, comes down to what you plan to do with it.
“The lower speeds will allow you to do the most basic things: checking your email, maybe even ordering things online via Amazon,” she says. “The faster speeds allow you to do more interactive things and - you to stream these large music - ference and less buffering.”
Common sense so far, right? But another wrinkle into your equation has to be how many people — and how many devices — will be online.
In my experience, once your internet speed is at, say, 200, 300 Mbps, there isn’t a noticeable difference on the performance of an individual device.
The trouble is, most people aren’t just using a single computer to get online these days. Everyone has a smartphone; plus we’ve got tablets, desktops, laptops, video game consoles, printers and even, as Sandry dryly notes, smart refrigerators that require an internet connection.
And as any commuter knows, the more cars trying to get on the freeway at once, the
“The faster speeds allow you to do more on more devices at the same time,” Sandry says.
“Our fastest-growing speed tier is the 300 Mbps,” she says, adding that it works especially well for families who like to stream different shows or Hulu) simultaneously.
But if you live alone or just with a partner, and all you want to do is check your email and look at Facebook, you don’t really need 300 Mbps internet — you could be content with a mere 50 Mbps.
OK, this all seems very simple so far, right? But hold on: paying for the fastest internet doesn’t necessarily mean you’re automatically reaping
Your internet might have the potential to move at the speed of light, but it’ll still be slower on an iPhone 4 than an iPhone 7. If you’re not updating your technology to go with your upgraded internet, you won’t get the most out of either.
“If you have an older device, you may have an older generation of that processor, which can limit what you can do,” Sandry says. “There’s so many variables when you talk about the internet and connectivity.”
Other chokepoints to think about: your Wi-Fi router, gateways and even the layout of your house.
Talking to Sandry reminded me that I have 100 Mbps for me and my sister, and our internet is always slow. I suspect the problem lies not in how much I’m paying for, but in our cement walls, which cause the signal to sputter.
All that technology, thwarted by such a primitive thing.
For more information on Hawaiian Telcom’s internet offerings, visit hawaiiantel.com.