Does Your Internet Have a Speed Limit?
There’s more to broadband access than you think!
Ending the Digital Divide
Nearly 22 million older adults over the age of 65 lack wireline broadband access at home. Aging Connected (learn more here) a national effort aimed at bridging the digital divide and helping older adults get at-home internet and connect to the world.
One way Aging Connected is helping older adults get at-home internet and thrive online is through the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). ACP is a government benefit program that helps eligible low-income households pay for internet service and connected devices.
But did you know that, in addition to having access to devices, making sure your internet is at the appropriate speed can greatly impact connectivity?
The Need for Speed
While accessing the internet is one thing, assessing the speed at which you connect and are able to navigate the internet is another.
Imagine logging onto a Zoom call with an old friend, only to catch every other word they said because of a poor internet connection. Instead of seconds, downloads could take hours. And you can forget about binge-watching your favorite shows or participating in your favorite Senior Planet programs.
What is an internet speed test?
An internet speed test measures your connection’s download speed, upload speed, and latency. The best internet connections have high download and upload speeds but low latency.
Download speed is how fast information can transfer to you. It affects things like how long it takes to download large files or show pages with many pictures. Download speed is measured in megabits per second (Mbps).
Upload speed is how fast information can transfer from you. It affects things like how long it takes to post pictures to social media. Upload speed is measured in megabits per second (Mbps).
Latency measures how quickly you can get a response from the server. Low response times are important for real-time apps, like video calls and online gaming. Latency is measured in milliseconds (ms).
So how do you test your internet speed?
There are a few ways.
A simple Google search including the words “how to check internet speed” will bring up an in-feed internet speed tester. Simply click “Run Speed Test”.
The test takes 30 seconds or less. It determines your internet speed by measuring how much data can move through your connection in that time.
This test is performed by Measurement Lab, an organization striving to increase internet access for all and provide education about internet connectivity.
Depending on your Internet Service Provider (Comcast, Spectrum, Verizon Fios, etc.), you may be able to locate an internet speed test through their website. For instance, on Spectrum’s Internet Test page, all you need to do is click “Go” and the internet test will run.
Xfinity has a similar internet testing experience, but this test determines the speed that reaches a specific device in your home. It measures the amount of speed available to a particular device at a specific time. This might be helpful to understand if you use a range of devices on one network or internet connection.
What to do if your internet speed is poor.
Test your internet connectivity knowledge with this quiz or get in touch with someone on Senior Planet’s dedicated hotline by calling: 888-713-3495.
Whether you’re new to the internet, or a frequent user, having the best connection and access to devices that make sense for your relationship with the internet is important; this is key to staying connected with the people you love and the world around you.
NaBeela Washington, an emerging Black writer, holds a Master’s in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University and Bachelor’s in Visual Advertising from The University of Alabama at Birmingham. She has been published in Eater, The Cincinnati Review, and others. Learn more at nabeelawashington.com.
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