Understanding your fiber speeds and how to optimize your home network

One of the first things an end user troubleshoots when the internet seems slow is their speed – this can be done by running a speed test. But what exactly is the speed test checking? This article will break down the different types of speed tests, elements of a speed test, Speed limiting factors, and how to improve your internet experience.

Types of speed tests

 There are two primary types of speed tests. Speed to the home and speed to the device.
  1. Speed to the home: This test measures the speeds from BEC Fibers provisioning server to your ONT (1). The speeds reflected on this test should be greater than 90% of the service plan that you are subscribed to. You can test the speed of your router by using the BEC Fiber app (2). 
  2. Speed to the device: This test measures the speed from your router to your devices within your home network. You can test your devices at https://becfiber.speedtestcustom.com .

Elements of a speed test

The speed test is broken down into four components; Download speed, Upload speed, Ping, and Jitter.

- Download Speed:  Your download speed shows how much data your device can receive over the internet. This is measured in megabits per second (mbps). This number is determined by the speed profile you subscribe to and the capabilities of your device. With upload and download speed tests, the higher the number, the better.

- Upload Speed: Your upload speed shows how much data your device can send over the internet. This is also measured in mbps and is determined by your speed profile and device capabilities.

 - Ping:  Ping is the reaction time of your connection – how fast you get a response after you’ve sent out a request. This is measured in milliseconds (ms). For Ping and Jitter tests, the lower the number, the better.

- Jitter: Jitter is the rate at which ping changes over a period of time. ‘Jittering’ is essentially the fluctuation or variation of latency over time. This is measured in ms.
 All of the speed packages offered by BEC Fiber provide unlimited data, the difference will be how fast you can send and receive that data. With a 500 mbps subscription, your speed tests will max out at 500 mbps. You still have unlimited data, but you are limited as to how fast you can send and receive that data.

Speed limiting factors

There are many factors that have an impact on your devices and the speeds you are able to obtain. Here are some of the reasons your speed might be lower than expected.

- Wi-Fi Interference: From appliances in the home (Microwaves, Radios, etc.) to physical obstacles (Walls, fish tanks, insulation, etc.) to your neighbors Wi-Fi, these are all things that can cause Wi-Fi interference.

- Bandwidth Limit Hits: Anytime you utilize your entire bandwidth allotment (i.e., 500 mbps), your devices might start to buffer until some of your bandwidth is freed up.

- Distance from Router: This is often referred to as the signal strength or bars on your wireless connection icon. The actual distance between you and your router has a direct impact on the maximum speeds you’ll be able to obtain. Think your wireless range needs a boost? Ask us about our Wi-Fi mesh extenders.

- Device Limitations/Legacy devices: A first generation smartphone or a 10-year-old laptop will have a wireless chip with old technology. Many devices that are only a few years old are already “outdated” and may only have the capabilities of achieving 100 mbps. The Wi-Fi mode and PHY rate *(3) of your device will dictate your speeds.

- Congested Network: Just like the number of vehicles on a road will increase the rate of traffic, more devices on your homes network will congest your network and can slow your devices.  

- Software Updates: With constant feature upgrades and safety requirements, your devices have software upgrades that can affect the speeds of your device if you are not up to date on the latest release.

- Background Activities: If you have a bunch of applications running in the background consistently sending/receiving data, this can cause your device to slow down.

How to improve your internet experience

- Equipment upgrade: We are offering a free equipment upgrade! We encourage all our members to upgrade your BEC Fiber equipment for the best possible experience. Our current equipment upgrade is a Calix GigaSpire or a GigaSpire Blast. BEC Fiber Wi-Fi must be enabled for a router upgrade.

- Speed upgrades: To avoid hitting your bandwidth limits, upgrade your speeds. Not sure if you need more speed? Give us a call for a bandwidth utilization overview.

- Wi-Fi Extenders: BEC Fiber offers a mesh Wi-Fi extender to increase the range of your wireless signal. Need coverage outside? We now offer an outdoor Wi-Fi extender!

- Device management: It’s good practice to periodically check your devices for software updates and keep them on a current, supported release. Many devices have an auto update option. Once your device is up to date, check to see if there are applications running in the background that could be impacting the performance of your device.

- Clean network: Often, the biggest cause of interference can be a device that is seldom used (I.e., an old wireless printer). Turn off devices that do not need a constant connection to the internet and only power them on when using them.

- Ethernet connections: A hard wired connection will always be more reliable than a wireless connection. When possible, it is preferred to run an ethernet cable from your router to your devices. It’s important to note the cable must be in good condition and plugged in correctly on both ends. If the your speed is still lagging with a hardwired connection, check the link rate of the devices ethernet port. Some ethernet ports are only have a link rate of 10 or 100 mbps.

- Optical Network Terminal: Depending on your home networks setup, this will either be a Calix modem/router combination or a Calix modem with an ethernet handoff to your own router. We encourage our members to use our router so we can better troubleshoot your network if you encounter internet issues. A Calix modem provided by BEC Fiber is required for service.

- Speed Test: To run a speed test on your router:
  1. Open the BEC Fiber app (available in all app stores).
  2. Select “My Network”.
  3. From the My Network page, select “Bandwidth Test”.
  4. From the Bandwidth Test page, select “Run Test”
- Physical Layer (PHY): Rate is the maximum speed that data can move across a wireless link between a wireless client and a wireless router.
Posted Wednesday, December 27, 2023