Don’t overbuy: How to save money on your internet service

Internet service is sold and priced at the speed of the internet connection you can expect at your Internet Service Provider’s (ISP) modem/gateway.

As of February 2022 in Reno, Charter’s Spectrum service offers download speeds of 100 Megabits per second (Mbps), 400 Mbps and 1000 Mbps (1 Gbps or often referred 1 Gig). AT&T’s Internet service offers slower download speeds ranging from less than 1 Mbps to 100 Mbps on their xDSL service, and speeds up to 5000 Mbps (5 gigabits) on their fiber service. Of course, the higher speeds will cost more money. Count on spending at least $50/month for reliable internet service, but anything above $95/month is probably unnecessary.

Faster internet speeds do not make your computer faster.

If your computer seems slow, contact Computer Techs before calling your ISP to increase your internet speed – because it’s likely that the bottleneck is with your computer. Internet speed only affects how fast web pages load in your web browser, or how clear and smoothly videos stream to your device. If your computer is slow to start or open programs – that has nothing to do with your internet speed.

Speeds are guaranteed at the router/gateway – not at your device.

Even if you subscribe to an internet service plan at 1 Gbps or more, don’t expect to see those speeds on a Wi-Fi connected device. Wi-Fi speeds vary by frequency and distance from your wireless router. On the 2.4 GHz frequency Wi-Fi band, you’ll rarely get speeds near 100 Mbps due to the narrow 20 MHz wide channels and interference from neighbor Wi-Fi networks in most areas that limit the connection speed. The 5 GHz band’s 80 MHz channels can achieve speeds as high as 800 Mbps, but only if you’re within approximately 20 feet and line-of-sight to the wireless router/gateway. Once you go to another room or move further away, speeds begin to fall off dramatically.

Why pay for gigabit internet speeds if your wireless devices can’t deliver speeds that fast?

There’s typically no reason for the average family household to subscribe to gigabit internet speeds, because most wireless devices currently can’t transfer data as fast as a gigabit internet connection. There are a few exceptions:

  • You’ve got dozens of devices on your network that need to simultaneously transfer content via the internet.
  • In the case of cable and xDSL internet (not fiber-to-the-home), you may have to subscribe to a higher download speed in order to get higher upload speeds – which typically vary from 1 to 35 Mbps. Fiber internet is symmetrical, where the download and upload speeds are the same.
  • You need lower latency that fiber-to-the-home offers, which is the time it takes data to transfer from your computer to the internet and back.
  • You’ve got a server on your network that other devices outside of your home can access files and stream data.

Do you need speeds above 100 Mbps?

Video streaming uses the most bandwidth on your network. In order to be able to view video streaming clear and interruption free, Netflix recommends that you should have a 25 Mbps connection (at your TV or device) to stream their highest quality video – Ultra HD or 4K. In theory, if you’ve got a 100 Mbps internet connection, you could simultaneously stream four 4K movies with ease. But if your TV is across the house from your internet gateway/router, your TV could be getting speeds far below the recommended speeds for streaming.

The bottleneck – your WiFi connection

If there’s lots of distance or walls between your internet gateway/Wi-Fi router and your devices, and you’re experiencing wireless speeds that aren’t keeping up with your advertised internet connection speed, you may need to replace your Wi-Fi.

Contact us to discuss your internet and wireless needs – we can help!

References:

Spectrum Rate Card

AT&T – Understanding internet speeds