When looking at your broadband, you might see terms such as ‘download speed’, ‘upload speed’, and ‘ping’. But what are they and why are they so important?
Disclaimer: The information on this page was last updated on 09/01/2023, 13:57:34
Whether you’re comparing broadband providers or conducting a speed test, you’ll probably find a few technical terms come up that you haven’t heard of. In this guide, we’re going to look at ‘download speed’, ‘upload speed’, and ‘ping’ to help you understand what these terms mean and why they’re so useful. As always, we’ve got you covered!
‘Upload speed’, ‘download speed’, and ‘ping’ are all terms used to convey internet speeds. You’ll see them each in different places under different circumstances but all three should be taken into consideration when testing your broadband speeds.
The most likely place that you will see ‘upload speed’ and ‘download speed’ will be when you’re comparing broadband providers and tariffs. They’re advertised by providers to show how fast your internet could be and entice customers with high potential speeds (it’s likely that a lot of people won’t get the high speeds advertised).
Ping is mainly seen when you conduct a broadband speed test. You may also see it when gaming - if your ping is high while playing online, you often receive an error message with a warning and could result in slow load times and lag.
Download speed refers to how long it takes to download data to your device from an external source, measured in megabits (Mb) or megabits per second (Mbps). Almost everything you do on the internet requires you to download data, so this is an important number to take into consideration.
When comparing broadband tariffs, it’s most often the download speeds that are advertised. This is not only because it’s what we mostly use the internet for, but also because download speeds are a lot higher than upload speeds and therefore more attractive to customers who don’t know much about how internet speeds work.
Download speeds are important to consider for:
The higher the download speed, the faster your internet should be. The average broadband speed in the UK is 81.7Mbps, but not many households will need anything faster than this.
What constitutes a ‘good’ speed will vary depending on individual circumstances, taking into account how many people will be using the internet at once and what it will be used for. For example, if you’re gaming or streaming a lot, you’ll want a higher download speed to avoid buffering and lagging. If you’re a light user who simply uses the internet to browse web pages or check emails, you won’t need nearly as much.
If your download speed isn’t what you were expecting, there are a few things you can do to speed them up.
If you’re not getting the speeds your package says you should be and none of these options helped, you should call your broadband provider. Most providers offer speed guarantees, so letting them know about your problem should result in either money back or improved speeds.
The most complained about issue when it comes to broadband is slow speeds and dropping connection. We can help you improve both of these if you give us a call today!
This is a common question people have when they’re downloading files. The truth is, it’s not downloading slower at all! While your download says it’s running at 5MBps and your broadband at 40Mbps, this is actually the perfect speed for your downloading file.
But why are the two numbers different? Because they’re measuring two different things.
Your broadband speed and other data transfers are measured in megabits (Mb) or megabits per second (Mbps). Computer storage, however, is measured in megabytes (MB) or megabytes per second (MBps).
Simply, 1 megabyte = 8 megabits. So if your broadband download speed is 40 Mbps, this means that your files will be downloaded at the rate of 5 MBps (40/8).
Upload speed refers to how long it takes for data to transfer from your device to another source, measured in megabits (Mb) or megabits per second (Mbps). We don’t often upload as much data as we download, so while you should factor in upload speeds when comparing providers, it most often won’t be your priority and deciding factor.
Despite this, upload speeds are important to take into consideration if you’re regularly using the internet for:
The higher your upload speed, the faster you’ll be able to upload files to external servers and sources. The average upload speed in the UK is 14.2Mbps, however, a ‘good’ speed to aim for is 5Mbps if you’re using the internet for more than just browsing (for which speeds of as little as 1.5Mbps should be fine).
However, with the rise in technology, schools are beginning to favour online homework or asking for work to be uploaded rather than handed in. While low upload speeds won’t affect your child’s ability to do this, it will mean that it takes longer to upload and send each piece, especially if they’re larger files.
Because we upload a lot less than we download online, we might not notice slower upload speeds. However, if you do upload a lot of content, you’ll need better upload speeds.
There are a few ways you can improve your upload speeds, including:
However, these are short term fixes. If you’re regularly uploading large files, the best way to improve your upload speed is to upgrade your broadband package or switch providers. To make sure you’re on the best package for you, call Utility Switchboard on 020 3049 5898.
Your speeds are largely controlled by your broadband provider, however, you only have a set bandwidth to work with. Bandwidth is how much data can be transferred across the network, both uploading and downloading. So, if your bandwidth is 120Mbps, the sum of your upload and download speed should be 120Mbps and how this is split varies by provider and broadband package.
Because the majority of homes download a lot more than they upload, the downloads are allocated more bandwidth to run through, leaving uploads with less. However, with the introduction of different fibre broadband options, there are some packages that are able to offer symmetrical broadband. This means that your upload and download speeds will be the same. This can be a bit more expensive than asymmetrical broadband so it’s normally only used by businesses.
Ping refers to the time it takes for a piece of data to be transmitted from your device to a server and back again. It’s measured in milliseconds (ms) and is a very important indicator of how much of a delay there will be when performing tasks online.
It’s unlikely that you’ll find your ping time unless you’re looking for it, for example when conducting a speed test, as it can vary depending on where the server you’re connecting to is based in comparison with your location.
You’ll want a good ping if you use the internet for:
The lower the ping, the better. Most of the time, anything under 100ms is considered pretty good, but for the best ping time, you want to aim for under 25ms.
If you’re gaming and your ping times are too high, you might not be able to join a server or be disconnected from one. However, this may be to your benefit as you’d see the game with a high delay, meaning that the same things probably aren’t still happening when you get to see them, making it harder for you to play.
When comparing broadband packages, providers will give you estimated minimum and maximum upload and download speeds. But if your internet is running slow or you’re experiencing delays, you might want to check them for yourself.
You can find all three of these speeds by conducting a broadband speed test. There are a number of different companies that offer third-party tests, or you can contact your provider who can do one for you.
When you conduct a speed test, it will take a few seconds to work out your upload and download speeds. However, your ping will be worked out differently. As ping is measured in milliseconds (thousandths of a second) it may seem like it’s not being calculated in a speed test due to the high speeds.
If your upload and download speeds are lower than they should be, you should contact your broadband provider who can either solve the problem or offer alternative solutions. Many of the larger providers offer speed guarantees, meaning that if your broadband drops below a certain speed, you can claim your money back.
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