How fast is fast?


Is your high-speed internet connection slow?

High-speed internet is connecting us together like nothing ever before. We can now download files, watch videos, connect multiple computers, play games faster and communicate with loved ones faster than ever before.

But is your connection as fast as it can be or should be? There are several factors that go into what makes your internet connection fast. In this guide we will break each one down and give you some ways to check on issues that may be causing you to slow down.

Your connection package:

Many Airstream-powered Internet Service Providers (ISP's) have several different speed packages to choose from to fit your budget. Even though the lowest packages still trump dial-up connection speeds several times over, the slower ones arent always able to enjoy the full richness of some websites and services. For example, Netflix requires a download speed of at least 1.5mbps and to get DVD quality video, you will need 3mbps or more. If you have a speed package less than this, you can expect to have quality and buffering issues with Netflix and other popular video streaming sites.

Also remember that part of your internet connection speed is required to actually address the data being sent. So a small percentage of your maximum speed can be consumed by this bringing a 1.5mbps package down to 1.3mbps some times.

To see just how fast your speed is, use our speed test located here.

If you feel that you need a faster speed than what you've chosen, please contact your local ISP for further assistance in upgrading.

Your computer:

It's important to understand the speed at which your computer runs is different than your connection speed. If you have an older computer or one that is over-loaded with a lot of applications running at the same time, it can make your computer behave very slowly. This might make it seem like your internet connection itself is slow, but it's really your computer trying to keep up. To accurately measure your connection speed, use our speed test to discover your true connection speed.

If your connection speed matches or closely matches the speed package that you are paying for then the slowness issue is most likely related to your computer being bogged down. Take a moment to go thru the running programs on the computer and decide if you really need them or not. Uninstall the ones you no longer want (note uninstalling is different than deleting the program from the computer or its icons). It might also be time to do some simple upgrades to your computer, such as adding more RAM. It's also a good idea to stay away from any program being advertised to "clean up" or "speed up" your computer. These programs are largely fake and do very little to actually help your computer health. The single biggest change in speed you can cheaply and easily make with your computer is to add more RAM. Many local computer repair shops and some of our ISP's can help you with this process.

Your network:

Next, let's take a look at your network and how you are using it. Remember programs running on your computer or on other computers in your home can be consuming some of your internet connection speed in the background. Programs like iTunes or the Zune Market could be consuming data in the background to update subscriptions or purchases.

Peer-to-peer (P2P) or bit torrent programs will also consume bandwidth constantly as well. While these programs have legitimate uses it is also important to understand they are also largely used for computer piracy by downloading copyrighted material illegally. If you are using one of these applications, first make sure you are downloading public and freely distributed content and then make sure you close them when you are done.

Also consider that other people in your house may be using up a portion of your speed or bandwidth. Think of it like hot water. There is normally only just so much to go around. Running your washing machine, doing the dishes and someone taking a shower usually causes issues with available hot water and the same is true for your internet connection. The more people using it at the same time the less is available per person in your household.

It's also important to consider someone else may be on your network and you may not even know it. If you have a wireless connection without any sort of connection protection turned on, anyone near your home could be connecting to your network. Most new routers are setup by default to utilize some type of internet connection protection and pass-key or phrase system. If yours isnt setup to be secure, it's a good idea to do that now as well.

Other issues:

There are a few other issues that could potentially play into your internet running slow. The largest issue here would be if your ISP is having an issue or outage in your area. While these are kept to a minimum and normally quickly resolved they could be playing into the issue. Contacting your local ISP or technical support is the best way to discover any issues occurring or to find help resolving other problems on your computer or with your local network. We are open 24 hours a day and can help you further diagnose the situation.