Despite the high speeds that your Internet service provider promises to offer you, such fast Internet connections does not always hold in the real world. More often than not, you experience slower access as you browse your Facebook feeds or download the latest movies from iTunes. If luck is on your side, it would be faster, even more than double the advertised speed, but not consistently so.
As what many TV ads tell you with just about any products and services, your actual experience may differ. If you think you’re not getting the promised bandwidth, a simple speed test—many of which are freely available online—can verify it for you.
If you find the results disappointing, there are fortunately ways to boost your Internet connection. Calling your ISP‘s customer service to complain is one, but you’ll most likely receive a cock-and-bull story by trained call center representatives. What you need to do is actually know the causes of slow Internet connections.
The first cause is on the part of the user. If you want to enjoy the speeds touted by the latest tech for high-speed data transmission, then you’ll obviously have to acquire the latest hardware. After all, what good is your LTE or 4G broadband if you’re using a less capable smartphone or modem, whose best connectivity is just HSDPA or the even older EDGE protocol? Also take into consideration that, especially with wireless connections, your distance from the network matters.
As you move farther away from a cell tower, for instance, the signal that your device receives becomes weaker. Physical obstructions, such as metal constructs and walls, are also factors of deteriorating signals.
Even though you may be in the center of the city, where your ISP has conveniently erected a cell tower, browsing the Internet can still be slow because of congestion. You can expect that major metropolitan areas have other people who are subscribed to the same provider and are simultaneously using the same connection as they go about in their online activities. It’s not just above the casual users who go by with just 15 minutes of checking out their friends in Twitter or Facebook. There are even heavy Internet users who eat away your speeds through their nonstop torrent downloads and online gaming.
The time of day can also indicate how fast your Internet speed is. Peak hours at home, which are between when people have gone home after work or school and when they go to sleep, are expected to have slower speeds.
What your Internet service provider is not telling you (or may have hidden in the fine print) is the fact that they also implement certain throttling or intentional limiting of Internet bandwidth, which is apparently for the purpose of guaranteeing quality service to everyone.
Depending on the ISP, unlimited Internet usage doesn’t necessarily mean a consistent rate of bandwidth for the entire duration of your postpaid plan. After downloading a certain amount of data, for instance, you may be subject to a subsequent speed that’s much slower than what is promised. If you’re a heavy downloader, you may also want to know that many providers restrict speeds on peer-to-peer file sharing. There’s even one local ISP that actually cuts you off completely after receiving 800 megabytes of data in one day, and you only get your Internet access back the next day.
While I did say that customer representatives on the phone may give ambiguous or ridiculous reasons as to why your Internet speed is not as fast as you wanted, there are actually times that what they say is true. Repairs and ongoing maintenance are common explanations, but they are nonetheless valid. It’s not that your ISP want to screw you over, they just want to improve their service in the long run. Your ISP isn’t also at fault if the servers or websites sending you data are slow themselves.
These are just some of the reasons why Internet service providers offer their services with speeds of up to, and not always, a certain rate. If you don’t like the speeds you’re experiencing, you can always switch to another provider, pay a bigger amount for faster bandwidths, or tweak your device settings.