Speeds in Your Network

Speeds in Your Network

Part 1: Your Network - What You Control

Your network is a good place to start since it's where you have most direct control. Your network would typically be your router, and the connection from it to your devices, which is through a cable or through wifi (wireless). Unless you have some critters that get lonely and like to chew up your cables, wifi owns almost all of the performance issues between compared to cabled connections, so a large portion of this 'Your Network' section will focus on wifi.

There have been some studies on the performance of wifi, and on average it was found strip about 30% of the bandwidth, so a 5 Mbps connection with a cable turns to a 3.5 Mbps connection on wifi in the average setup. The more devices that you connect with wifi to the same router, the slower the wifi will be. Wifi will also add latency and jitter to the connection, which is most noticeable when it crumples an online gaming session. A cabled connection to the router should run at full speeds, and unlike wifi, it should hold up as more devices connect to it.

your network

Checking how much wifi is slowing you down

If you are wondering if slower speeds are due to the Internet or your network, the time of day can help to narrow this down. The Internet is busiest, and therefore slowest, in the later evenings, around eight to midnight, so if it's only slower there, it's probably mostly the changing speed of the Internet, and if it's slower at all times of day, then it's more likely to be your network. A quick speed test over wifi, and then another over a cabled connection should show the wifi loss. There is an additional step after connecting the cable to your computer before trying the speed test, which is to disable the wifi on the computer so that you can be sure that the connection is over the cable. If you have a cable and wifi connecting, it will often still use the wifi to connect. The speed test on our site will provide the most accuracy for this (explanation about this in the 'The Internet' section below):
MCSNet Speed Test Page

Smart TVs can struggle with wifi because they are near metal and electronics that can hamper the signal. On top of this, video streams like youtube and Netflix are bandwidth hungry and sensitive to speed fluctuations, so give your new TV some love and get that cable connected. Take the time to run that cable once and you're set for a long time. Printers are prone to error and failure and likely to peeve many a computer technician, but wireless (wifi) printers add more trouble ontop of this and are a calamitous pestilence not recommended for those of the faint of heart.

Alright, wifi is slow, but I have this tablet/phone that need it, can I help it?

Yes, there are three areas to look at for improving wifi performance: signal/interference, networking standard, and number of devices sharing airtime.

Settings and Trouble Outside of WIFI

Connection flooding
This might seem fairly obvious, but it comes up often enough to mention it again outside of the wifi section. If you have a 5 Mbps download speed, and you use that 5 Mbps on your notebook for watching a video, it will leave 0 Mbps for other devices trying to use the Internet. One of the pre-requisites to testing the speed of your connection is to make sure that the connection is not being utilized, that the potential 5 Mbps is open for the speed test to use. We can often tell when a speed test has been tested while there is other activity using the connection, a good hint about this is that the upload rates generally don't vary on the MCSNet side, almost all of the contention for traffic is on the download side.