Broadband speeds are measured in 'megabits per second', often shortened to Mb Mbits p/s or Mbps. Bits are tiny units of data, with a megabit representing a million of them.

The higher the number of Mbps (megabits per second) you have, the speedier your online activity should be. A high number should mean that downloads complete more quickly, web pages load faster, streaming of music or videos begins more rapidly and any video calls or online games played should display smoothly.

WiFi and Internet are not the same things

Your internet speed is simply a matter of what plan you have purchased from your ISP.

Your WiFi speed is bassed on how fast your device and router can talk (so if you have a 1300mbps wifi router, and a laptop with a 2012 150mbps card in it then you are bottlenecked to the 150mbps wifi card. In reality though wifi speed is always going to be 40% or less of the max speed due to the protocoal and the physics of wireless signals.

I have a 400mbps internet connection but my real world wifi speed (on a card who’s rated speed is 867mbps) is only around 300mbps. This means my WiFi bottlenecks my internet.

Until recently we had 100mbps internet plan, but my wifi speed was still 300 mbps. I could transfer files to my file server or ther computers at around 300mbps, it was just the internet connection that was limited to 100 mbps.

So as you can see WiFi speed and internet Speed are different things.

So the question comes down to is the slow speed your interent speed or your wifi speed.

You can check your internet speed by plugging a device in via ethernet to the router and seeing what the speed is. If it is the same as the speed on wifi then the internet connection is the problem.

Now you need to check your actual wifi speed. If you have 2 computers, connect 1 via ethernet and setup a file share on it, then transfer a decent sized file (200 MB or bigger) from the wifi connected computer to it. Now this transfer will run in mBps (megabytes per second) so you need to multiply it by 8 to get mbps (megabits per second) to correlate to your internet speed.

If your WiFi connection is the problem then your problem is either distance, interference, or just old equipment

  • The farther away a router is (and thus the more solid objects like walls and furniture) the more its signal will decay. Going from one end of a house to the other end and you can end up with 10% speed
  • If you live in an apartment buliding, or mobile home park, or other area with a large amount of homes in a small area then the 2.4 ghz band can become completely saturated and your neighbors start to interfer with your signal. You need to have a dual band router (and dual band wifi card in devices) so yu can use the 5ghz band
  • The WiFi speed on the box is A) for both transmit and receive combine, and is also a theoritcal lab max speed. Real world speed will be 40% or less. I get 300 mbps with line of sight to the router 15 ft away and my router/wifi card supports 867 mbps.
  • On top of the point above, you have to configure N300 (or higher number) routers correctly to use two frequencies, otherwise you will only get 150mbps speed which real world would be 50–60 if you are in the same room of the router….and much less the more walls you put between you and the router.

Hopefully this helps you figure out the source of your problem and can change internet plan or equipment accordingly.

FYI in most laptops it is very easy and inexpensive ($20–25) to upgrade to a newer wifi card. If you have a really old laptop (10+ years old) then it will be using an older style slot that has significantly less options.