Broadband speed & data usage: Do ISP's actually deliver the true value?
The contract is signed, and your Internet Service Provider has promised you superior service. However, your connection seems slower, and when your bill arrives in the mail, the numbers don't add up. You begin to wonder: "Is my ISP ripping me off?" Read on for tips to track internet usage and more.
Broadband Speeds and Empty Promises
First, we must reconcile ourselves to the fact that it's impossible for even the most honest ISPs to consistently deliver promised broadband speeds. There are various reasons for this, but the most significant is one of network saturation, meaning how many of your neighbours are sharing the same connection. The more people connected in one area, the slower the speeds will be.
In addition, some ISPs are tricksters and will give preferential treatment to web sites within their networks, giving them higher download speeds and slowing speeds down dramatically for any sites outside of their realm.
Data Usage Tracking
Read your contract and you will find just how much data transfer you are allotted each month. Use more than that and expect hefty additional charges from your ISP. While the same is true for mobile phones, we are able to easily track how many minutes we use each month and keep our phone company honest. But can we do the same for our ISPs?
How to Keep Your ISPs Honest
If you think it's impossible to learn the truth behind your ISPs business practices, think again. There are various ways to verify your broadband speed and data usage to see the true value you're receiving for your hard earned money.
To find out about broadband speeds, you should:
- Read the fine print, as many contracts will state that "connection speeds will vary".
- Contact your ISP to learn the ratio of households to a single neighbourhood connection.
- Use Network Diagnostic Tools, such as M-Lab (Measurement Lab), to calculate your connection speed and what tricks your ISP uses to keep you in the dark
Next, monitor your own data usage. There are various ISP Usage Widgets on the Internet. Simply find the one that works with your ISP to track your own online activities. In addition, if you use a Firefox browser, download the NetUsage extension as it works with dozens of ISPs.
It takes time to do this, but it is worth it track internet usage, determine your download speeds and keep your ISP honest.
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