Considerations for New High Speed Broadband

With companies such as Verizon and Time Warner offering broadband internet speeds of 300Mb/s (that’s megabit per second) or greater, it’s time to stop thinking like this is still the year 2000. I know, because my own broadband has gone from 30Mb/s to 200Mb/s in just the last month.

Some things to take into account:

  1. If you are using a cable modem, what do you have? Is it DOCCIS 3 rated? What are the fastest speeds it can handle? How many channels can it bond?
  2. Is the router connecting you to the Internet capable of handling the faster speeds?
  3. If your router in 2. is capable of handling the faster speeds, and it also provides WiFi, what spectrum does the WiFi operate at 2.4Ghz or 5Ghz or both?
  4. Do you have other devices (computers, etc) on your network connecting via Ethernet? If yes, how old are the patch cables connecting them? What are the cables rated?
  5. If you have additional Ethernet switches on the network what’s the fastest speed of the ports?

Let’s deal with these one at a time.

  1. To test your cable modem, plug your computer directly into the Ethernet port on the modem. Once you are connected to the modem and have a valid IP address, go to this site to test your speeds: http://testmy.net/SmarTest/combinedAuto. You want to use this as opposed to the speedtests at speakeasy.net or speedtest.net because it uses HTML5, not Flash. It’s more accurate.

Are you getting the speeds you’re paying for from the modem? If you’re paying for 200Mb/s and when connecting directly to the modem you’re only getting 30Mb/s you probably need a new modem. I’d recommend the Arris SB6183It will bond up to 16 Channels and is rated for 600+ Mb/s.

  1. To test your router, do the same thing as 1. above. Plug directly into the router, use the same link in 1. to test your speed. Again, if you’re not getting the higher speeds, you probably need to replace the router. A good recommendation for that would be something like the Zyxel Zywall 110. You might be able to get by with the Zyxel Zywall 50, that’s what I’m using but it may top out lower than the speeds you have.
  1. For WiFi, you’ll need something capable of using the 5Ghz spectrum; the 2.4Ghz spectrum won’t handle the faster speeds. Again, use the link above for testmy.net to check what speed you’re getting out of your WiFi. Unless you’re using the newest iPhone 6S or one of the iPads released around that time, an iOS device is not going to give you a reasonable result. Even if you are using one of the newer iOS devices, you should still use your computer for the WiFi test.

Personally, I like to keep the WiFi separate from the router, so I use WiFi access points. A good recommendation here are the UAP Pro or the UAP AC, both from Ubiquity. The AC is a better choice if you have a new computer capable of using the AC standard; it’s currently the fastest WiFi available.

If you want just one unit with both the routing and the WiFi in the same unit, take a look at the ASUS RT-68U. It’s very highly rated by friends and compatriots in the consulting business.

  1. The age of your patch cables and switch also can be factors with these new higher speeds. In days of old, CAT 5 cables were fine. In this new era of faster speeds, your cables really should be CAT 6. Look at the cable itself. There’s text all over it and somewhere on it you’ll see the designation for the cable.
  1. Likewise, if the switches on your network are not Gigabit switches, you’ll want to replace them. Get the steel switches, not the plastic ones; overall they are better made and will perform better. A good start is either the 5-Port or 8-Port Netgear. If you really need a lot of ports, the 24-Port might be what you want; for most home users, you shouldn’t need something that big.

Hopefully, this will give you some good information about how to get the better speeds from your internet provider. Party on Garth!

 

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