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Last Updated on 25 February 2019

How to Check if Your Internet Speed is Living up to Your Provider’s Promise


A sluggish internet connection can have you slamming your head on your keyboard as you wait. Not everyone has access to the fastest internet in the country, but those who want it will find the broadband speed test useful.

Are you curious about your provider’s internet claims? In this guide, you’ll learn how to test your internet connection, what the figures mean, and some steps you can take to get the most out of your broadband connection.

Key Points
  • A broadband speed test will be able to tell you how fast your internet connection is in practice.
  • A broadband speed test provides you with the download speed, upload speed, ping, and jitter.
  • There are a few steps you can take to improve your internet speed, but some of the factors depend on your location, connection, and hardware.

A Providers’ Claim

Many providers claim to have one of the best internet connections you’ll find in the class. Whether you’re connected by ADSL2+, cable, or fibre, providers like to boast a speedy, fuss-free internet connection.

Providers also tend to advertise their speeds during ideal circumstances. You might be able to get 100 Mbps in the middle of the day when no one else is using the internet, but that’s not the case during peak hours.

You should keep these claims in mind before you perform a broadband speed test. Remember that you can’t always expect to get top-of-the-line internet speeds when the conditions aren’t perfect.

Performing a Broadband Speed Test

So, your internet is unusually slow. Before you point the finger at your broadband provider, know that your connection could be underperforming for a host of reasons.

But before diagnosing the issue, you may want to complete a broadband speed test.

The broadband speed test breaks down the information into several categories, rather than simply confirming that your internet is slower than it should be.

You can perform a free broadband speed test through multiple online channels. Here are a few you can use to test the practical capabilities of your internet speed:

Understanding the Information

As you can see in our graphic above, a broadband speed test shows you more than just how fast you can stream videos and download files. These tests give you the full range of elements that go into your internet speed.

In this section, we’ll take a closer look at each component so you can better understand what you’re looking at.

Download Speed

Download Speed

Download speed, for many, is the most important aspect of an internet connection. Your download speed dictates the speed at which you can stream videos and download files. It refers to how fast your internet can receive and process information.

Gamers, streamers, and those who use the internet to search for information will all be using the download speed. This is also the part that providers advertise most heavily.

A serviceable download speed can be as low as 25 Mbps, but that isn’t ideal. The fastest speeds in Australia come close to 100 Mbps, which is noticeably faster when streaming videos and TV online.

Make sure to keep in mind that plans advertising 50 or 100 Mbps might be including the maximum speeds. You may test and find that you’re only getting 43 or 92 Mbps. This is common during internet “peak hours,” when many people are online.

Check your plan to see if the broadband provider lists “typical evening speeds.” This figure will be closer to what you can expect most of the time.

Upload Speed

Upload speed isn’t as important to most internet users, which is why providers often list it in a smaller font on their plans. Despite this fact, a quick upload speed is essential for a few specific uses.

As you can probably guess, the upload speed relates to how fast your broadband connection can upload files to the internet. Upload speed plays a small role in activities like searching and streaming videos, but a very low upload speed will be fine for these uses.

Those who need a higher upload speed will be people who live stream on platforms like Twitch or upload videos to YouTube and social media.

Still, unless you’re a professional YouTuber or streamer, you probably don’t need drastically high upload speed to achieve your goals.

The highest-tier internet plans in Australia will have around 40 Mbps upload speeds, which is more than enough for all applications. Those who don’t need fast upload speeds will be happy with numbers as low as 3.5 or 5 Mbps.

Ping and Jitter

Although most people will be focusing on their download speed to find out if they’re getting their money’s worth, it also helps to know your ping and jitter.

Like upload speed, the importance of ping and jitter are relegated to a niche audience: gamers.

Your ping speed will be displayed in milliseconds on a broadband speed test. This number shows how long it takes for the information to flow from your computer to a server and back again. The lower the ping, the more responsive your inputs will be.

In practice, you can see ping working in a gaming setting. When you press a button on your controller or keyboard, your computer sends that information to a server. When the server gets the information, they relay it back to your screen, and you complete an action.

Ping doesn’t matter very much on non-competitive games, but it does once you start competing. A high ping means your shots might not register fast enough, for instance.

You pressed the button and saw the beginning of the animation, but the other player with lower ping won the game before the server received your input.

The description might be a bit confusing to non-gamers, but gamers will know what we’re talking about.

Jitter, on the other hand, refers to how stable your connection is. A low number is better than a high number here as well.

A consistently high ping is far better than a ping that fluctuates. You can get used to a high ping, but won’t know what to do if it jumps around uncontrollably. A low jitter will give you a consistent ping, and high jitter means it will spike from time to time.

Getting a Better Connection

So, you used the broadband speed test to check your internet speed. Now it’s time for improvement. Use some of these tips to get the most out of any internet connection.

Plug In

Plug In

One of the first – and possibly most significant – tip we can give you on improving your internet speed is to plug in an ethernet cable.

WiFi is great, but it’s also far less reliable than wired connections. Plugging in your computer means you can receive the fastest speeds possible. Your device will connect directly to the router, allowing you to access the internet without any interference.

Power-Cycle

A power-cycle is another simple but effective way to boost your broadband speed. The modem has a cache that gets clogged-up after repeated usage. Turning it off and on again will reset the cache and lead to faster speeds.

Make Sure You Have the Right Hardware

Using third-party modems and routers might seem like a way to save some money on monthly charges, but it might be harming your internet connection.

ISPs often offer modems with their internet plans, and these are guaranteed to be compatible. Using third-party hardware might not be completely compatible, and could be slowing you down.

Check Your Plan – and Possibly Switch

If you can’t figure out why your broadband connection is so slow, take a look at your current plan. Those who have ADSL2+ connections won’t be able to access the fastest speeds, but NBN customers should be able to purchase higher-tier plans.

We’ve included a breakdown of the NBN plans below. As you can see, NBN 12 plans offer very slow download speeds. You might have wanted to save some money when you signed up, but want more speed now.

If you still can’t reach the upper levels of your plan’s promise, you might want to consider switching ISPs. Take a look at our comparison tool to see the prices and speeds of broadband plans in your area.

Find the most competitive broadband plans in your area now:

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