You’ll probably be told that you are using up your allotted bandwidth and need more and that may or may not help.

This is a tough subject/question because as mentioned in another answer, it’s hard to answer without more details on why you think you need better speeds.

I’ll make the assumption that your Internet service is slow, sluggish, even when you use well known speed test sites that might and probably show otherwise.

How do you know you need more bandwidth?

What tests have you run? What are the signs of lack of bandwidth? Do you know if the bandwidth issue is with your provider or with the destinations you are trying to reach?

Is your router/modem firmware/software up to date? Is it the providers or your own?

Say you have a 25Mbps service and you are streaming SD and HD movies at the same time for example, you might be exhausting the amount of bandwidth you have. The industry suggests that 4K streaming requires around 25Mbps.

Not much other than streaming and large file transfers will take up all your bandwidth.

On the other hand, maybe others in the area are experiencing the same. It’s possible that your provider has over-provisioned in that area and simply doesn’t have enough bandwidth to handle all of those 500mbps services that your neighbors are buying up at certain times of the day.

Your bandwidth is guaranteed to the street and from that point, it’s what is called Best Effort Delivery

. You will also find something along the lines of ‘up to’ in terms of bandwidth on their web page, on your bill, agreement etc. The ‘up to’ part means your speed may go up to what ever you are paying for but it doesn’t guarantee that it will be constant.

You can pay extra for Service Level Agreement

(SLA) based bandwidth if your provider offers it but expect to pay a lot more.

This question truly requires more input in terms of usage but let’s just stick with slow, sluggish for what ever reason.

Consumer speed testing, useful or not?

Speed testing is kind of a joke. It’s not accurate other than if there is something wrong in your own area. Speed testing sites have become popular mainly because it’s all consumers have and the industry has taken advantage of that.

That said, NetFlix created FAST .com because their customers were complaining about and blaming them for slow streaming. People tend to blame the service they are trying to use before their own Internet service.

NetFlix understood that they needed a way to shift that blame to awareness. However, what ever their reasoning, their service ends up being similar to other speed test services.

Speed testing against highly optimized networks

The fact is that those speed test services are on Content Delivery Networks (CDN) which are high speed caching and distribution networks meant to speed up delivery of streaming and other content that needs to be fast.

The speed testing tools are also on the edge of the providers networks so you’ll almost always see good speeds unless there is something really bad happening in your area.

Can you actually speed test over the Internet?

Sure but it’s not going to be a true measure of the result.

There is no real way of testing speeds over the Internet unless you have a dedicated line from point A to point B. Even if you test against a well known site, you aren’t really testing point A to B because your traffic or packets will flow across many switches owned by different network operators before getting the point B.

The Internet is made up of many different networks and when you connect to anything on the Internet, your connection (packets) flow across a fair number of networks which you nor the destination control, therefore, speeds will always vary.

What can you do?

The only way to know how your connection is performing is to monitor it for a while or ongoing so that when you do have problems, they are already logged and you have the proof you need.

Even automated speed testing is going to use a CDN but over time, you will start seeing a trend. You should also be able to tell if the problems are at your own location or with your provider.

Combine that with other ongoing monitoring and you might start seeing that there is a problem and typically, those are right in your own neighborhood.

Armed with information, you’ll have a better chance of getting help from the provider especially if others in the area are seeing the same problems.