HOLLADAY — With many Utahns still working from home and students still being taught online, home internet speeds have become a big concern.
When you sign up for broadband internet, the cost is generally determined by your connection speed. The faster it is, the more you pay. But how do you know if you are getting what you pay for?
Working from home over the last two months has been frustrating for Dominic Fratto, a marketing director for an insurance company. Speed test after speed test has shown his high-speed internet connection to be lagging far behind.
“Especially when you’re trying to conduct meetings online through video chat. I work with a lot of very big files,” Fratto explained. “So accessing the cloud and having speeds that are capable of accessing the servers at a good rate, you know, it’s affecting my work.”
Fratto said he understands how the pandemic has created an influx of heavy internet traffic.
“However, I’m paying them now for 300 megabits per second (Mbps). I’m only getting about 70 to 80 on average,” he added.
On some of the speed tests Fratto showed KSL, the download speeds were as low as 44 Mbps and 26 Mbps.
Fratto signed onto Comcast’s Xfinity Blast! Pro internet package that promises a download speed of up to 300 Mbps. A disclaimer below reads, “Actual speeds vary and are not guaranteed.”
And “up to” is key, because there lots and lots of factors that can slow your internet connection down: from your computer and internet router/modem to the number of devices you are using and how busy the internet is when you are using it.
Still, Fratto said he pays $80 a month to get only a third of his plan’s capacity, consistently.
“If I was getting 30% of my power coming to my house or water, and I was still paying my full amount, I’d be upset,” he said. “So, I’m realistic about expectations. If this was 60% to 80%, I think I would probably not have a problem at all.”
After several calls to Comcast and even a visit from a service tech who looked at everything, Fratto said he was still getting the same slow speed. So, he contacted the KSL Investigators. Once we reached out to Comcast and explained his situation, they sent a small army of service techs. And, between hours of work on outside and interior wiring and swapping out his modem, Fratto said they fixed the problem.
“This is not so much about the money spent for the services, it’s getting the service that I’m paying for,” he said.
Checking your internet speed
You can check your home internet speed by using one of several free online testing tools including speedtest.net or testmy.net. Before you start, plug your computer directly into the router/modem using an ethernet cable.
Do not rely on Wi-Fi for accurate results because generally, it is slower and less reliable than an ethernet connection due to interference. Experts also recommend closing all apps on your computer while testing your connection.
Sometimes the results will be a little below the speed you are paying for, and that is fairly normal. But, if they are far below then there might be a problem with your hardware or connection. Also, speeds will fluctuate throughout the day with internet traffic. So you should do several tests at different times to find an average.
Troubleshooting your connection
In an email, Comcast told us the culprit behind a slow internet connection often is the router or modem. Try rebooting it by unplugging its power cord and plugging it back in ten seconds later. Give it a few minutes before retesting your internet speed. If the reboot doesn’t work, sometimes your internet provider can resync the router/modem. Possibly, it has become outdated or broken and needs to be replaced.
When it comes to your Wi-Fi signal, where you place your router can have a dramatic impact on your connection speed, according to technology website CNET.
It recommended putting it up high on a bookshelf or even mounting it on a wall. Placing an omnidirectional router in a central location in your home will also help, as it sends out signals in every direction.
If the router has antennas, position them at different angles to cover a wider angle.
Check your computer
Experts say malware can cause slow down your internet speed by opening multiple browser windows in the background resulting in bandwidth-hogging traffic. Regularly run antivirus software and keep your computer’s operating system up-to-date.
If troubleshooting has not found a problem with the hardware in your home, insist that your internet service provider sends a service tech to fix your connection. Or, ask for a discount if you cannot get the speed you are paying for.