How Do I Troubleshoot Slow Speed Issues From My New ISP?

A friend of mine recently asked if their plan to move from AT&T DSL to cable ISP would work. As someone who made the same leap years ago, I felt like sending them a holiday beer. For me, the transition was a joy, similar to what I imagine the Mandalorian will experience after firing up the hyperdrive after several days of sailing at sub-light speeds.

But what happens if your new ISP’s “faster” plan isn’t fast at all? This is the predicament that Lifehacker reader Gilbert is dealing with, and he recently posted the following question in Tech 911 :

“Today I switched from RCN to Spectrum Internet. On Speedtest.net with RCN service I always get high speeds, usually between 150 and 225 Mbps.

When I switched to Spectrum, with the same computer, but with a different router and modem, I now only got 30-60 Mbps on Speedtest.net. A technician from Spectrum showed me on his device that the incoming speed is over 300 Mbps and sometimes 400 Mbps. He tried to give me a new router and modem, but the result was the same.

I have tried several sites for testing speeds with a range of 30 to 70 Mbps. Spectrum seemed confident that it had done its job and that Spectrum was delivering the promised speeds. He couldn’t explain why RCN’s results were so much better. (Before he started, I showed him the speed test result for RCN, which was over 200.)

I read about being “restricted” and downloaded a free VPN from Hotspot Shield, but it didn’t seem to matter. “

When your new ISP is fast only for the technologies that are testing it.

This is fun, Gilbert. You got rid of my advice a bit by trying a few of the troubleshooting tricks I would suggest, which is great! I’m sorry they didn’t fix your problem, but at least you can take comfort in the fact that you did the absolutely right thing: you checked the speed to confirm there was a problem, you contacted your ISP, you sent his technology to test your speed, and you even replaced potentially problematic hardware.

Since the issue persists and someone else was able to increase the speed on your network than you, we can narrow down our collective troubleshooting efforts a bit. It seems to me that there is something wrong with your home network, causing your device to show a slow speed, and that of another person – a high speed.

Try testing on as many devices as possible.

You have not specified what you connect to your router to run various speed tests, or what Spectrum used to run their speed tests. You should first try to connect a similar device in the same way that Spectrum did for their tests. For example, if they pulled out their multiple new iPhones, plugged it into your router’s wireless network and got a high speed, you should take out their multiple new smartphone (if applicable), connect it to the same wireless network, and run multiple similar speed tests.

I would try to attack your poor router with as many devices and speed tests as possible. Connect all available devices via Ethernet – using different cables and ports on your Spectrum router / modem – and run speed tests on them. Connect different devices to your wireless network (or networks if you have more than one) and run speed tests on them.

Basically, the goal is to see if there is any combination of connections that will give you the same speeds as Spectrum. I suspect this is the case, because it would be pointless for only one person on one device to get high speed while others, namely you, could not. This is especially true if you haven’t messed up any settings on your router or modem (or combo device) since Spectrum looked. These tremendous speeds exist; you just need to dig them up.

Is this a hardware problem? Connection mismatch?

The curious part of this puzzle is that I usually assume that the devices you use for speed tests may be responsible for your slow results. For example, if your router / modem supports a fast AC wireless connection, but you are testing it using an older wireless-n device, you probably won’t get as good results as someone connecting to it with a newer wireless. connection. -ac device.

However, you already had high speeds from your old ISP. Assuming you are using the same devices, it is a bit confusing as to why you suddenly see lower speeds on the Spectrum (and its hardware) – especially, again, when someone else might be getting higher speeds in their tests.

In such cases, my troubleshooting steps become a mess:

  • Make sure all wired devices you connect for testing support Gigabit Ethernet.
  • Make sure you are using Cat6 Ethernet cables between your devices and your router, and between your router and your cable modem (if applicable).
  • Try using a different Ethernet cable to connect if wired (Gigabit Ethernet) devices report slow speeds
  • Make sure the wireless devices you are using for testing support wireless-ac.
  • Even if they don’t, make sure any wireless device you connect to the router for testing purposes connects to the router’s 5GHz wireless network.
  • Make sure you stand close to the router with a line-of-sight when doing speed tests.
  • If possible (and only if you can do it safely, in terms of a pandemic), borrow a friend’s Gigabit Ethernet laptop and / or a wireless smartphone or tablet to help conduct additional tests

It is possible, though unlikely, that there is a problem with one of your devices or your wireless network that is slowing things down. You can try to solve this problem in any number of ways: switch the Ethernet cables (to another Cat6 cable); buy a quality gigabit network adapter or wireless network adapter for your desktop or laptop; make sure your router shares your Wi-Fi networks, and always connect to 5GHz when you are near it to run speed tests; and make sure your router / modem has the latest firmware.

Finally, assuming you have a Spectrum combo router / modem and not separate devices, you can try configuring your router / modem as a bridge – basically a cable modem without any router functionality. Then buy an inexpensive (but reliable) third party router like TP-Link’s Archer A7 and plug it into your router / modem to use it as your primary router, which can give you the speed boost you want.

However, if I had to stick with one answer, I think there is some misconfiguration going on with your connection that slows down your speed. It could be something as simple as having your router assign your device to a slower 2.4GHz network instead of a faster 5GHz network, assuming it handles that provisioning itself (and just gives you one SSID to to which you are connecting). You will never see 400 Mbps when connecting wireless-n, so this could be the problem right here – which you can fix by going into your router’s settings and dividing your Wi-Fi networks into separate SSIDs for 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz as mentioned.

Let me know if any of these suggestions work! I am curious to know what can help solve your problem.

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