When you buy an internet package, you pay for a certain download speed, usually measured in megabits per second (Mbps). But how do you know if you’re receiving your money’s worth?
It’s actually easier than you thought.
First off, a megabit is just another word for a million bits. A bit is a unit of data that represents the maximum transfer rate allocated to you by your internet service provider. If you pay extra for that rate to increase, you should notice your content downloads at a faster rate.
Take Netflix, for example. They recommend a download rate of at least 3Mbps to stream standard definition video, and at least 5Mbps to stream in HD.
Here’s how you check.
First off, figure out your internet package and what download rate you paid for. We’ve included some examples of Comcast internet packages and their pricing for new users as a baseline.
Next, when you’re connected to the Internet you wish to check, head over to speedtest.net. Speedtest is a nifty website that helps measure your download rate in Mbps.
Speedtest will put your internet through the paces, and spit out a summary of the results. It will look something like this.
You can then compare the download speed promised by your service provider with the real-life speeds you’re seeing. If you notice a large difference between the two numbers, you might want to call up your provider and see what the issue is.
It’s important to note that most people download files that are in megabytes, a different unit of measurement from megabits. A good rule of thumb is that in order to download a 1-megabyte file or song in one second, you’ll need eight times that number in your transfer rate (so an 8Mbps rate).
Of course, most media nowadays is far larger, especially movies or game downloads. If you find yourself downloading lots of movies or games, it might be worth it to opt for a higher tiered plan — so long as you double check that you’re actually getting what you paid for.