How to get the most out of your internet
The BC Government has partnered with the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) on resources to help British Columbians get the most out of their internet connection.
On this page, you will learn about:
- What are internet speeds, and why do they matter;
- How internet performance tests work; and
- How to perform an accurate internet speed test.
Your internet experience relies on the performance of your internet connection as digital services are dependent on available speed. Internet speed refers to the speed by which data, including files, websites, pictures, music, and movies, travels from the internet to and from your home computer, tablet, or smartphone.
Connectivity is commonly measured by two speeds:
- Download speed: How fast information is delivered to you from the internet.
- Upload speed: How fast information is travelling from you to the internet.
In 2016, the Canadian Radio-Telecommunications Commission established a Universal Service Objective for all Canadian homes and businesses to have access to broadband internet speeds of at least 50 megabits per second (Mbps) for downloads and 10 Mbps for uploads. In addition to having access to these minimum speeds, every Canadian should have the option of subscribing to an internet plan with unlimited data usage.
If your internet connection is slower than you think it should be, conducting a speed test is a good way to measure the internet speeds you are receiving. There are several speed tests available for free, which are all easily accessible from any web browser.
CIRA’s Internet Performance Test measures the performance of your connection to the device in your home, which takes into account how you might typically use the internet. This provides an accurate measure of the speed you’re getting under real-world conditions.
After conducting a few speed tests, you will have a good indication of the average download and upload speeds you are getting. If it is less than the speed you’re paying for, you can take the appropriate steps to diagnose and correct the problem yourself, or you can contact your internet service provider (ISP) for help.
Before you run the CIRA Internet Performance Test, there are key steps you can take to ensure you get the most accurate results.
- Plug your computer directly into your router or modem: Using a Wi-Fi connection is convenient and typically gives you the same speed as a wired connection, but to achieve the most accurate performance test results of speed to the home, it’s best to use a wired connection if possible.
- Use a trusted browser and close all other programs: Use a trusted browser like Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer or Safari to run the Internet Performance Test. It’s also important to cancel any downloads that are in progress and close any other applications that are running on your computer. If you’re using a virtual private network (VPN) for work or to secure your browsing, make sure you also disconnect from it before running the test.
- Disconnect other users and devices from the internet: Your internet connection is shared by all the users in your home, so if multiple people and devices are connected to the internet while you’re running a speed test, you won’t get an accurate measurement. Before you run the test, it’s important to disconnect all other users and devices from the internet.
- Run the right test for your connection type: If you have a very low-bandwidth internet connection, you can run the Mini Internet Performance Test. This version of the test has a very simple webpage with minimal graphics that loads very fast, even if you have a basic internet connection. If you have anything above a very basic connection, run the standard Internet Performance Test.
When you have successfully run the test once, take note of the download and upload speeds and run the test again. To get a range of results, you can run the test several times a day, including during the peak usage period that occurs in the evening. It’s also a good idea to run the test on different days of the week, so you can see if there are days or times when your internet connection is significantly faster or slower.
After you have run a few tests, compare the download and upload speeds measured during your testing to the speeds that you are expecting to get from your ISP based on your plan. You can also try running another free speed test, such as the Google Internet Speed Test and compare the results. All your test data will help you have a conversation with your ISP to determine how to improve the performance of your internet connection.
More information on CIRA's speed test and how speed is measured can be found in this infographic on the CIRA website.