Why do two internet connections with the same mbps get different speeds?

Victor Ong February 2, 2012
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I go back and forth between two different internet connections frequently. One is private, at home; and the other is open, public.

When I go to Network and Sharing Center in the Windows 7 control panel, both connections show 56 mbps on wifi, and 100 mbps with a line.

However, when I use speedtest.net, my home internet gets 2.5 Mbps, down and 0.7 up, while the public internet gets almost 7Mbps down and 0.7 up.

Why is this? Shouldn’t it be that the locked, private internet connection is faster? And why do they have different download speeds, even though they have the same mbps? Does this have anything to do with the network utilization, which shows 1.5-5% at home and 10%+ at the public connection? If so, how would I change this?

Thank you very much in advance for all your help.

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  1. Harris Mirza
    April 12, 2012 at 10:46 am

    the 100mbps or 56mbps are the speed of the router to your computer.

    the speed of the internet to your router is different

  2. Ray
    February 3, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    Using those speed Tests I can see vastly differing results at different times of the day.

    I think my ISP gets overloaded at times....  (chuckling at that...)

  3. Ed
    February 3, 2012 at 11:42 am

    "both connections show 56 mbps on wifi, and 100 mbps with a line."
    It is not the actual speed of your connection. It just means that your LAN line can handle up to 100 mbps speed and your wifi can handle up to 56 mbps.

  4. James Bruce
    February 3, 2012 at 10:33 am

    First off, the speed reported by Windows 7 is not your internet speed, it is your network speed - that is, the speed between your computer and the router. An ehternet cable will be 100mb typically, though 1000mbs also are common. However, you may still have a 1mb internet connection on the end of that. 

    Then, the quoted speed from your ISP will often be overly optimistic. ADSL varies the most, fibre connections are generally reported accurately. My 50mbs fibre connection runs at 50mb down, 1mb up; but connection here sold as "up to 20mb ADSL" average about 6mbs, so don't take those quoted speeds as being reliable. 

    Does that explain it?

    Personally, I use speedtest.net, and drag an engineer out if i'm getting significantly less. I pay for the top tier, I expect top tier service. If they can't supply the promised speed, force them to refund a little of your service bill every month until they can. 

  5. FIDELIS
    February 3, 2012 at 4:56 am

    Hello, to answer your question simply, it all depends in the bandwith and speed of the package.  What kind of a package do you have at home? 

    If it is a public open WIFI, chances are they have Gigabit ethernet in their setup and also they would a package with a lot of bandwith and speed to accomodate several user at same time.  That is way you get more download speed through them. 

    The speed readings you are getting are normal.  When you are using ethernet and you have a network card compabible with 100 Mbps, that is the most you are going to get.  The same applies for wireless.  The only way you can get up to 300 Mbps with wireless is if your router is an N class router and the wireless card in your laptop/desktop is N class too.  If your wireless card is compabible with G class that is the most speed you are going to get. 

    Now, if you have a router and an ethernet card compatible with 1000 Mbps (Gigabit) then you can achieve that theoretical speed when transferring files within your network.  You would not achieve that speed when downloading though because for that to happen your ISP has to provide that package, you would have to pay extra for it and also you have to have a Gigabit router that can accomodate that speed and also you would mostly have to be using cat 6 cables in your network as compared to cat 5E cables. 

    To summarize, the only way you can get more speed and bandwith is to upgrade to a higher package.  Talk to your ISP to see what packages are available in your area.

    • Victor Ong
      February 3, 2012 at 5:52 pm

      I have a spare TP - LINK 
      TL-WR841ND  "Wireless N router."  Would that be faster than my above mentioned netopia router?

  6. Jay.0
    February 3, 2012 at 12:32 am

    "56 mbps on wifi, and 100 mbps with a line" is common, Even if you connect two computers via LAN, you will see 100 mbps.

    If you use connections of two different brands, it is possible that the original speed may vary, but the promised speed can be the same'.

    You don't need speed test sites.
    Test and compare speeds by Downloading a same file using both connections, and you can see the difference.

    • Victor Ong
      February 3, 2012 at 6:11 pm

      Yeah, but speed test sites are the easiest.  Downloads are a bit obscure.

      • Anonymous
        February 5, 2012 at 3:13 am

        But it is a real world test. Real and Clean results.

  7. Anonymous
    February 3, 2012 at 12:26 am

    Well, there only two real ways you are going make your home network faster.

    First would be to buy a faster internet package from your ISP, basically paying more for faster internet. But check the packages thoroughly, and only expect about %60 of what is advertised.

    Second would be to optimize your home network, How is it setup? How many computers are on your network? 

    • Victor Ong
      February 3, 2012 at 5:51 pm

      Well, at home I am using a netopia 
      2247-62  router.  There are two ipod touches always on, and at least one computer connected to the internet when at home.

      At the public wifi there are 3 desktops, countless mobile devices, and at least one laptop connected.
      Also, is there any way to increase my network utilization?

      • Anonymous
        February 3, 2012 at 9:08 pm

        No, on the network utilization, it doesn't work that work. Well, If you want faster internet, you can buy a faster package from your ISP.

        You can also get two internet lines to your house and use a load balancer to tie them together, but this is a more advanced option.

        • Victor Ong
          February 5, 2012 at 2:12 am

          Something like lenovo READYCOMM'S load averaging option?  So can I connect to a wireless connection AND a wired one and it will load average?

        • Anonymous
          February 5, 2012 at 3:14 am

          Yes and No, The load balancing part I mentioned doesn't actually have anything to do with you PC itself, actually a separate device on your network. A load balancer take two or more DSL, or t1 or e1or any type of internet connection, and makes it where you can use both of them on one network. Basically the router you have, well you could have two or more coming into your house and while using the load balancer doubling ( or more) your internet speeds. This is a obviously an expensive option....

          To use both your Wireless and your Wired connections, you can select both in the Advanced Network Adapter settings ( hold down Ctrl and click the ones you want). Right click them and select Bridge Connections. 

          Microsoft Instructions here: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-vista/Create-a-network-bridge 

          This will "bridge" both connections and split your internet traffic between both of them.

  8. Anonymous
    February 2, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    it is possible for one of the adapters to download  faster with
    one particular router, but be slower with another. 

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