It's not all that uncommon to spend as much on our monthly telecommunication bill (cell phone, TV, Internet, etc) as we do on our vehicles. As such, you want to make sure your getting what you pay for. In the case of TV, it's easy to make this determination. If you pay for ESPN and CNBC but you're not able to watch those channels, then you know you aren't getting what you're paying for.
Assessing Internet, however, is a little more difficult. Fortunatey, there's an easy way to test this.
How, exactly, do we test this? Simple. Go to www.speedtest.net. This is a site hosted by the good people of Ookla. Running a simple Internet speed test will give you ping response time (useful for determining latency), download speeds and upload speeds.
When the test is run, a sample file is downloaded from a local participating server, then uploaded back to the same server. All the while, your actual speeds are being assessed.
Now that we know what are speeds are, we can use this to determine if you're getting what you're paying for. If you're paying for a 50 Mbps download but Speedtest is registering 20 Mbps, it may be time to call your ISP.
Before you pick up that phone, however, keep in mind a couple things:
1) if you are testing your speeds over a wireless network, you can expect your speeds to be slightly slower than what you're paying for due to network overhead.
2) not all wireless routers are created equally. If you are using a cheap router, your speed issues may have nothing to do with your ISP, but rather your wireless router. To rule that out as a possibility, go directly to the source by connecting your computer directly to your ISP's modem.
With that I mind, take a minute now and see what your speeds are!
Want to run this same test on your iOS device? You can download Ookla's free SpeedTest app here. Keep in mind that iOS device have less sophisticated antenna design than traditional computers, so you will very likely have slower speed results when testing on these devices.