Why is my broadband speed so inconsistent?

Episode 1542 (1:39:36)

Don from Mission Viejo, CA
Network cable

Don wants to put a flat screen in his back yard, and he wants to use the internet to get content on it. That means he'll need to improve his Wi-Fi. He bought the Google Wi-Fi mesh system to do just that, and he likes it. Leo says Mesh is an improvement for every home, and it's worth the price. But Don wants to know why his speed tests are always different. How can he get a true reading on internet bandwidth speeds? Leo says his ISP will always tell him the maximum possible speeds, not a consistent bandwidth speed from day to day. Cable is always inconsistent in its speed because he's sharing all the bandwidth with his neighbors. So when everyone is watching Netflix in the evening, everything slows down. Whereas, DSL is individual, and therefore, it's actually more consistent, and isn't impacted by his neighbor's internet use.

His device can also impact it. Not all routers are created equal, nor are the devices he uses like tablets, consoles, laptops, and mobile devices. Each one will have different speeds. Lastly, Wi-Fi itself can impact his speed. Mesh routers, for instance, prioritize traffic (called bandwidth shaping). This is why mesh is better.

If he wants to get a more accurate picture, he should run the test at three different servers:

Then he'll get a better idea of what his speed actually is. It may also be inconsistent from test to test as well. Don can check his latency at PingTest.net