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Question

100 Mbps into house but wifi speed only 5-10 Mbps

by jolida202 / May 2, 2014 9:18 PM PDT

We just upgraded our home internet to the fastest fibre connection available, 100 Mbps, but even with a compatible router (Linksys EA4500) speedtest.net shows download speeds of only 5-10 Mbps, and that is sitting right next to the router. What can I do to speed up the wifi?

Using mid 2011 Macbook Air (no ethernet port). Desktop is iMac, but far away from router to hardwire it... and same wifi speed as laptop.

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All Answers

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Answer
Sounds about right
by Jimmy Greystone / May 2, 2014 10:26 PM PDT

Sounds about right, since the speeds being advertised by the ISP are MegaBITS per second and speedtest will likely be showing megaBYTES per second. The quick and dirty conversion calculation is to divide by 10, so 100 megaBITS per second works out to 10 megaBYTES per second under perfect conditions.

As for speeding up wifi, you can't. The MBAir has an 11g wireless card in it and there's no changing that, same with the iMac. Your only option would be to buy a USB 11ac device and then because of it being USB you'd probably only get a marginal increase. You don't tell which model iMac you have, but basically unless it has an 11ac wireless card in it, you're likely looking at 11g speeds all around where you won't necessarily be able to take advantage of MIMO functions of the router and your maximum download speed is 54Mbps, which you'll never actually see because that's the maximum speed on paper under perfect lab conditions and excluding any kind of network overhead.

Welcome to the world of where advertisers walk right up to the line of what they can say without falling foul of false advertising laws and then kind of lean over that line a bit by intentionally trying to make you assume certain things and burying anything that might disabuse you of those assumptions in fine print you practically need the Hubble telescope to be able to read.

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bits bytes and bauds
by jolida202 / May 3, 2014 12:09 AM PDT
In reply to: Sounds about right

I thought the "b" in 100 Mbps was bauds, but of course you are right. So can I ask you...why should I subscribe to 100 Mbps if my wifi can only deliver a fraction of that? My other options are 10 or 50, both with considerable savings.

Appreciate your input.

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There isn't
by Jimmy Greystone / May 3, 2014 2:59 AM PDT
In reply to: bits bytes and bauds

There isn't a good reason for doing it to be honest. There's not only the fact that you will likely be limited by the age of your computers, but the fact that your connection will never be faster than the slowest link in the chain. If you're trying to get to Website X, and it involves going through a slow relay server, it doesn't matter how fast your Internet connection is, it'll only be as fast as that slow relay can deliver data.

At the very least, I'd drop to the 50Mbps tier and save some money, but odds are you wouldn't notice a significant difference if you went all the way down to the 10Mbps level. Depending on how much you want to call up your ISP and play with your service package, you could drop all the way to 10Mbps, see how that goes for a week or two, then bump it to 50 if 10 doesn't quite cut it. Or you could go the other way and drop to 50, if you don't notice a change, drop to 10 and then go back if the difference is worth the money to you.

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(NT) V helpful. Thx.
by jolida202 / May 3, 2014 4:08 AM PDT
In reply to: There isn't
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Speed etc.
by pgc3 / May 3, 2014 4:35 AM PDT
In reply to: V helpful. Thx.

I totally agree with Jimmy, this is not the first time this question a has arisen. As he stated, the slowest link in the chain, that covers it, at least in part since all hardware in the system needs to be gigabit capable, for starters but it goes on from there. It is quite confusing and of course the servers don't necessarily tell users of specific requirements from a system standpoint to achieve maximum potential, whatever that is in reality.

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Not sure that is accurate
by thomasterrible / May 4, 2014 8:29 AM PDT
In reply to: Sounds about right

Sure the connection is only going to be as fast as the weakest link in the system. Also depending upon what site the downloads are coming from that will dictate real world numbers also.

BUT at the same time it sounds like it is not nearly as fast as it should be. My ISP is Comcast where I pay extra to get the 50Mbps service. When measured when not using a wireless router, another idea for keeping speeds up by not going through WiFi, I have measured download speeds of 50Mbps and more. Even when going through a wireless router and using both speedtest and Comcast's speed tester I have had readings of the same speed as when measured directly from a computer plugged directly in to the modem.
That speed fluctuates depending on the day and time and might measure as low as 25Mbps. One Blu Ray player also measures the connection speed and that is the weakest device in the house here as it can meause much lower speeds than other devices and sometimes the streaming can stop completely. Having the higher speeds for streaming HD video is probably the most important use I have a use for higher speed WiFi.

So specifically those numbers he is reporting for a 100Mbps speed is not nearly high enough IMO and I think there is something slowing it down to a point that is much lower than it should be. Perhaps if he has coverage for it he could have his ISP come out and measure things or make sure his router is set up properly.

So why not try measuring the download speed when plugged directly in to the modem and then try to diagnose the router since it does not make sense to me that I am using the same measuring system as he is but getting much higher results with half of what his claimed speed of 100Mbps is.

BTW part of the reason that he does not get higher speeds, even if he could not actually use them in his instance, is because the fiber optic cables that allow those high speeds stop when they get to his house wiring where it is no longer fiber optics. I know that in some areas where the speeds can be up to 500Mbps via the fiber optics they can maintain that speed after paying to have the fiber optics installed in to the location. There are some groups that have a use for these high speeds and share a building that has this expensive fiber optic set up so that it spreads the cost out among them so they can use the high speeds in their ventures without having to pay nearly as much with the cost spread out among them.

Depending upon how many devices he has and what he is using them for I would think that a properly operating 50Mbps would be fast enough to support HD video streaming etc.. I don't think his connection is being maximized though. I don't think this is normal. Why would I get such different results if it were otherwise?

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It is
by Jimmy Greystone / May 4, 2014 9:45 AM PDT

It is... If you read the fine print, you'll see they're advertising megaBITS per second. Whether or not the firmware developers for any random bluray player make the distinction between two units of measure Mb/s and MB/s, I can't say, but that's how the math breaks down. Technically you'd divide by 8, but dividing by 10 is both easier and takes into account some degree of network overhead, so works out to a more realistic value in the end.

Also, the fiber connection, with cable, will terminate at the nearest junction box. From there it's your regular coax and the higher the speed connection the more of the little individual strands in that coax cable are being used for the Internet connection. There's also some interpolating and what not to kind of "hide" the Internet signal inside unused parts of TV channel streams. Kind of like how originally closed captioning worked by embedding the closed captions in the space between frames. If we're talking DSL service, then the fiber stops at the nearest DSLAM switch and from there it's copper wire.

One minor point I should make is that with any Internet connection, you're not paying for any kind of guaranteed service, you're paying for POTENTIAL service. Using the OP as an example, they are paying for UP TO 100Mbps speeds right now. That it's unlikely they will ever see anything even approaching those speeds isn't the point as far as the ISP is concerned. The OP could, theoretically, download something at speeds up to 100Mbps.

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I get what you are saying but...
by thomasterrible / May 4, 2014 11:41 AM PDT
In reply to: It is

I get your point. But both the OP and myself are using the same programs for measuring the speed. So it is not consistent with what I am getting with "up to 50" and his "up to 100" which you are correct about. Depending upon where my service is at and other things the same package has shown to be above or below that figure and then changes throughout the day and time as I mentioned.

Still though my Wifi has been pretty consistent with the speed of the items plugged in via ethernet and the speeds are not 10X less when measured. Get what I am saying? My speeds measured in the same way are much higher than his. Not ever anywhere near 8-10X less because of a conversion factor.

Yes that was what I was talking about how the fiber optics terminate before getting in to your house and there being a way to buy your way in to getting it in to your house (at least in some areas) so you do get the full connection speeds of up to 500 Mbps. It is just really expensive so that is why multiple people share the same location.

As far as the OP's issue though his router may well be a potential bottle neck but it should not be that low.
I am not sure how true to the 100Mbps speed is in the "up to" part of it. But in the up to 50 I am getting sometimes more than 50 and sometimes less but never less than about 27Mbps and that is on 2.4Ghz modem router combo which is not as fast as it could be. The only time it was running less I called the cable guys out here and we found a cable that was severely damaged and allowing a giant amount of ingress that should have been noticed in their drive by or fly by checks. After that was fixed all was OK again.

I honestly think it is either his router or it's settings that are slowing him down to that huge an extent.

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Do you have
by Jimmy Greystone / May 4, 2014 11:28 PM PDT

Do you have 11ac wireless equipment by chance or even 11n? I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure the OP is using at least one 11g device, which operates only in half-duplex. Depending on the router, it could be forcing everything else into half-duplex 11g mode, since not every router's firmware will be able to handle multiple clients on different wireless standards. In which case every device connected cuts the total speed in half, so if there are two devices connected in half-duplex 11g, each one would operate at anywhere between 25-50% of the capacity of either one individually.

When you're dealing with wireless networking there are a large number of additional variables to take into account and that's even before you get beyond the hardware. It's also why you'll generally never see a large scale wireless project unless there's little other choice given the circumstances. Wireless is horrible for streaming video, horrible for downloading, horrible for basically everything except web browsing where high latency doesn't really matter as much.

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WiFi
by Fox155_xD / April 11, 2015 1:27 AM PDT
In reply to: Sounds about right

Correction: 1 Byte (B) = 8 bits (b) not 10. so 100 Mbps x (1 MBps / 8 Mbps) = 12.5 MBps. Speedtest btw shows it in Mbps. So there's no conversion error. 802.11b/g has a maximum speed of 54Mbps (6.75 MBps). 802.11n can reach speeds of up to 300 Mbps (37.5 MBps). The signal strength of your computer affects the speed also. Most WiFi's today are MIMO (Multi-in, Multi-out), computers connected to the router have 54 Mbps of connection each depending on the router's capacity. However, if the computers are accessing the internet simultaneously, the WAN port of the router is limited to 100 Mbps and 1 Gbps for gigabit ethernet (1024 Mbps). This is when the internet speed of each computer will have to share the 100 Mbps connection. For windows there is one way to check your WiFi speed without any programs. Create a shared folder on one computer and place a medium-sized (<100MB) file in the folder. On the other computer, open that shared folder and copy the file to your computer. Expand the progress bar to see the transfer speed in MB (Remember 1 MB = 8 Mb). To for your internet speed, connect your computer directly to the modem via an ethernet cable and go to Speedtest.net again.

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Here's why we use 10 instead of 8 for the multiplier.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / April 11, 2015 2:08 AM PDT
In reply to: WiFi
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asynchronous_serial_communication shows a start, stop and possible idle bit when dealing with communications.

That's why we use 10 and not 8 when talking about communication speeds. In bigger packets there's no start, stop and idle but there are headers and trailer areas in the packet so again we use 10 instead of 8.

For files your 8 is right, for communication it's another number.
Bob
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Answer
check the wireless settings
by James Denison / May 4, 2014 10:04 AM PDT

in the router. It may have a default speed throttle that is affecting it. What speed do you get when using ethernet on the router?

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Answer
Overkill subscription
by Julco13 / September 3, 2016 8:13 AM PDT

Your speed test will tell you have 10 MBps download and 5 MBps upload (in Bytes not bits) and thats if your connected via an ethernet cable where you will have the max potential speed (which is usually up to 100 Mbps). But since you're using wifi, bandwidth will usually be 54 Mbps and your test will show less speed.
Either use an ethernet cable or subscribe for the 50 Mbps plan, which in most cases will be more than enough and you will barely notice any difference.

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(NT) Reply To A Two YEAR Old Thread. Time To Lock This One..
by Grif Thomas Forum moderator / September 3, 2016 6:51 PM PDT
In reply to: Overkill subscription
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