Internet service providers promise the earth when it comes to broadband speed - but what does it really mean and, more importantly, are you getting what you’re paying for? Use our tool to check your internet connection speed and find out how to understand speed test results.
- Download speed calculator
- Think Broadband speed test
- Plusnet broadband speed test
- Vodafone broadband speed test
- Internet speed test results explained
- Why you need to test your broadband speed
- Know your rights
Download speed calculator
So how do you test your internet speed? Simple - use our broadband speed tester tool!
You don’t need to enter any details about your computer, we don’t want to know the make and model of your modem, your postcode, shoe size or any other personal details. It’s a simple matter of clicking a button! It takes just a few seconds to get your result, which you can then compare to the speed your service provider promised to deliver.
To find out the fastest possible internet connectivity you have with your current equipment, test your speed with your computer connected to the router with an ethernet cable, rather than on a wireless connection.
Think Broadband Speed Test
As far as the other internet speed tests go, Think Broadband’s checker is comprehensive and gives the result in the form of a graph, which is easy to understand but some reviewers have said it's less reliable than other tests and that it takes longer to generate a result.
Plusnet Broadband Speed Test
Plusnet customers have both good and bad things to say about this speed test. Some have said they find it more trustworthy than other tests but others find it very difficult to interpret the results.
Vodafone Broadband Speed Test
Vodafone offers a broadband speed test for their own customers because they are so confident about their own connection that they offer a discount if the connection speed is slower than a certain minimum level. However, since it’s for Vodafone customers only it’s hard to tell how it compares to other speed tests.
Internet speed test results explained
People often use the terms bandwidth and internet speed interchangeably. In fact, they mean slightly different things:
- Bandwidth = the amount of data that can be transferred between your computer and the server
- Internet speed = how fast data is transferred between your computer and the server
Somewhat confusingly, both are measured in Mbps (megabits per second), but remember: there is no such thing as ‘bandwidth speed’! It’s helpful to consider bandwidth as maximum capacity, rather than speed.
Let's compare broadband connection to your water supply. There is a maximum amount of water that you can use at one time - this is like your bandwidth. If you turn on all the taps and switch on the washing machine at the same time, you need your water supply to be able to cope with that level of demand. This is the equivalent of connecting your PC, a couple of smartphones, a tablet and an online games console at the same time, all downloading internet content.
The bandwidth needs to be sufficient to deliver the data quickly enough to all the devices. If you don’t have enough bandwidth, you’ll soon notice the drop in speed! Measuring your internet connectivity in terms of download speed tells you how quickly the data is arriving at the user end.
The good news is that in many cases the numbers are very similar; in other words, your download speed and bandwidth could be the same.
With our broadband speed test you can find out your download speed, upload speed, jitter and ping.
Wait! What is upload speed? What is ping?
Upload speeds and download speeds are measured in Mbps (megabits per second). Ping and jitter are measured in milliseconds.
- Download speed is how much data - how many megabits - are transferred per second from the server to your device. Every time you do anything on the internet, from opening a web browser to watching a film on Netflix, you are downloading data. When you measure download speed, the higher the number, the better.
- Upload speed is the number of megabits transferred per second from your device to the internet, for example adding photos to Facebook, sending a tweet, or posting a video of yourself on Instagram. As it is with download speed, the higher the number, the better.
- Ping is important for online activities where real-time connection matters, such as video games and Skype calls. It’s all about how long it takes your connection to get a response after your device sends out a request. The lower the ping, the better.
- Jitter tells you how consistent the ping request-response time is. When your voice starts to break up on a Skype call, it's because of high jitter; in other words your ping is jumping around lot. The lower the jitter, the better.
If you think your broadband speed is on the slow side, or if you want to figure out what broadband speed is right for you, check out our guide to broadband speed and find out what you can do about it.
Why you need to test your broadband speed
You’ve signed up to an internet service that’s supposed to deliver a certain speed - you want to know you’re getting your money’s worth, right? Or maybe you’re thinking "my internet seems really slow" every time you’re uploading photos to Instagram or video streaming on YouTube. Doing an internet speed test can help you troubleshoot connection problems and also makes you better informed when it comes to choosing broadband deals.
First of all you need to understand what telecommunications companies are selling you. For example, when a broadband provider offers an ‘average download speed of 35 Mb’ what are they really getting at? This means that 35 Mb is the speed available to at least 50% of customers during peak time (8 pm to 10 pm). Effectively, the fastest broadband you can receive from that particular internet service provider could be well above that stated average speed.
While this may not be crystal clear for all customers, it is an improvement on the old terminology. Suppliers used to get away with being much more vague about connection speeds, with promises such as ‘speeds up to 50 Mb.’ In reality, that meant that providers only had to ensure a minimum of 10% of customers received that speed at any one time, while the other 90% of customers may have had a much slower connection.
However, since new Advertising Standards Authority rules came into effect on 23rd May 2018, UK broadband providers have had to start giving more realistic estimates of the speeds customers actually receive. This is why the standard wording you’ll see nowadays is ‘average speed.'
Know your rights about broadband speed
Bearing in mind that the 'average download speed' advertised by broadband providers is what half of their customers can expect during peak hours, what if you fall into the other half, the people who don’t receive the advertised connection speed?
This is where minimum guaranteed connection speed comes in. At the point where you sign up to the contract, it is the provider’s responsibility to tell you what the minimum level of download speed is that you are entitled to receive.
Similar to the ASA rules about advertising an average connection speed, Ofcom has issued a code of conduct that commits broadband suppliers to providing a minimum broadband speed. If your speed is consistently slower than that minimum level, let your provider know and they will try to improve the service. If there’s still no improvement after 30 days you have the right to cancel your broadband internet service.
Did you know...?The Ofcom code of conduct, which comes into effect on 1st March 2019, is voluntary but the vast majority of the big broadband providers have signed up to it. The code makes it easier for customers to cancel their contracts without early termination fees when their connection speed regularly falls short of the guaranteed minimum. It applies to all types of home broadband provision, so it doesn’t matter if yours is cable, fibre-optic or copper.