Why its important to use an Ethernet connection when speed testing
The advent of the smart phone and tablet meant the days of having to sit in front of a massive beige box to access the Internet are a memory for millions but for broadband providers the variability of Wi-Fi performance means the scope for complaints about slow speeds are even higher today.
Our broadband speed test will run on computers, tablets, phones, games consoles and some smart TVs and while we recommend people connect with an Ethernet cable where possible many people don't and by looking at Virgin Media speed test results we can get a good idea the impact on your experience when using different devices.
The 10 second summary is this, even though many people use a laptop or PC with a wireless card PC based speed tests are consistently faster than mobile phones which in turn are consistently faster than a tablet.
The download chart is showing that in November 2017 the mean download for PC devices was 68.5 Mbps, phones 55.3 Mbps and tablets 44.1 Mbps and for upload speeds the figures are 8.3 Mbps PC, 6.4 Mbps phone and 5.5 Mbps tablet. We have not included the charts but the quality metric which is looking at how stable a test speed is for every test indicates PC devices score 0.6 (Grade A) versus 1.0 (Grade B) for mobile phones and 1.2 (Grade C) for tablets, or put another way as the quality score increases the chances of you enjoying the buffering symbol increase.
Why is this important? Beyond bragging rights about the fastest connection in your street. Well with the increasing use of smart phones and tablets as default web access and video streaming devices it is likely that a good chunk of the complaints around broadband issues are related to Wi-Fi rather than the underlying broadband access method, be that a piece of string, a copper pair, coax or a fibre optic strand. In the Virgin Media November speed stats we are using in this article 57% were found to be on a PC, 30% using a mobile phone and 13% with a tablet.
We suspect that the reason tablets may be slower is that people tend to upgrade their mobile phone in line with their mobile contract term, whereas tablets you keep for longer so there will be more devices with less advanced Wi-Fi features.
TV adverts like to hang Hollywood stars from helicopters or show technicians unplugging a cable to showcase their Wi-Fi routers but the reality is that if you want to have the best experience when streaming films to your TV if at all possible connect via an Ethernet cable and if that is not possible make sure the device is using the 5 GHz band on your wireless router.
A top tech tip is that while broadband providers and router manufacturers configure both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz wireless bands with the same network name (SSID) to actually get the best performance change the names so you can identify them and just teach your devices the credentials to access the 5 GHz band (this is assuming the 5 GHz band will reach where you want, i.e. 2.4 GHz has a longer reach).