What you need to know about increasing your internet speed

While it’s amusing to see your least favorite coworker frozen in an unflattering angle during a company Zoom call, when it happens 17 times in a row and isn’t limited to goddamn Karen, the amusement may give way to genuine concern: add videos buffering for an eternity and web pages taking an eternity to load to the mix, and what was once a fun screen capping opportunity has transformed into a genuine concern.

However, hold off on blaming the elderly fortuneteller with the glass eye who lives in the flat below you just yet—your internet troubles are more likely the result of insufficient bandwidth than of a spiteful curse.

What is bandwidth?

According to Verizon’s good folks, it’s “the maximum amount of data transmitted over an internet connection in a specified amount of time.” Bandwidth is often confused with internet speed, although it refers to the quantity of data that can be sent across a connection in a certain period of time, measured in megabits per second (Mbps).”

A decent speed is anything above 25Mbps, but that is on a per-person basis: if more than one person is using your Wi-Fi at the same time, you must increase that bandwidth by the number of additional users. A home with 3-5 users should have 200–300 Mbps coverage. If your internet connection has a low Mbps rate or if there are too many users connected, you will experience limited bandwidth.

How can you speed up your internet connection?

Three major things that may impact bandwidth and cause your internet connection to slow down:

  • Your device
  • Your router
  • Your Internet Service Provider (ISP)

It’s important to remember that even if your ISP guarantees a connection speed of up to 20 Mbps, this does not guarantee that you’ll always receive that speed, particularly if several devices are connected to the same network and all of them are in use simultaneously.

Consider how traffic clogs the freeway and slows everything down—adding more lanes (or bandwidth) may help speed things up again.

Do you need more bandwidth?

You can determine this by doing a simple speed test and comparing the results to what your ISP indicates you should get. However, if you have a large number of devices connected, all of which are streaming or downloading data, this number may be much lower, and you may want to increase your bandwidth.

This can be accomplished by upgrading your internet plan and physically purchasing additional bandwidth. Switching to a new ISP that offers more bandwidth at a lower price (for international readers—Americans, you’re probably out of luck on this front), or limiting the number of devices connected at any given time.

Other methods to increase bandwidth

Want to avoid blaming your ISP for any reason? There may be more perpetrators:

Your phone or laptop may be experiencing difficulties processing data

  • Examine your storage and make any necessary adjustments.
  • Utilize antivirus software to eliminate any malware.
  • Clear your cache and shut off any data-sucking background applications.
  • Perhaps you just need an update.

The problem may be with your neighbors’ Wi-Fi

  • If your channels overlap, this may be causing your internet connection to slow down.
  • Consider switching to a different Wi-Fi channel with fewer nearby users.
  • Upgrade to a dual-bandwidth router capable of transmitting at both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz.

Your router may be malfunctioning

  • Give it a quick reset.
  • Maintain a clean signal by keeping it free of external obstacles.
  • Bring it closer to the location where you’re using your smartphone.
  • Ascertain that it is current, both in terms of firmware and model.

Your internet service provider may be throttling your speed

  • This is most probable if you observe a substantial decrease in your pace while doing specific tasks.

What is throttling, you ask?

Bandwidth throttling occurs when an ISP intentionally restricts its customers’ internet connection bandwidth, often to reduce traffic generated by users who wish to stream in high definition or perform other bandwidth-intensive activities online. This is where a decent VPN comes in handy—just use NordVPN to encrypt your traffic and prevent your ISP from monitoring your activity and limiting your speed.

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