“Bandwidth” and “Speed” – not the same thing

It’s terribly confusing that these terms are used interchangeably. Unfortunately, they don’t have much to do with each other. Bandwidth is the number of “lanes” available to your computer. It is typically measured in Megabits/second of Mbps or Gigabits/second or Gbps. Do the number of lanes affect the speed of your car? Typically no, unless it’s rush hour.

What matters is how fast you can drive right? That’s “latency” in the internet/networking world. It is dependent on a lot of different factors, including but not limited to, the speed of your computer, the speed of your network card, the speed/how busy your local modem/router is, the speed/how busy your local internet provider’s infrastructure is and then all these factors on the other end of the connection as well. The “bottleneck” in the equation defines your latency at that particular time to whatever particular service.

So how do your measure your internet connection? Well, take those “bandwidth” sites with a grain of salt – they are best for measuring the bandwidth received to match up with the internet plan your paying for. The best measurement test I’ve found to determine “quality of experience” is the Cisco Webex Network test: https://mediatest.webex.com.

It measures a bunch of different things for a video call, which is the most demanding application for most people. If you get all green, then you’re in good shape. It means you could run all applications from that location without issues (as long as the opposite party doesn’t have a bad connection of course).

Check out my own article on how to improve “speeds”: https://textor.ca/2015/03/forget-a-bandwidth-upgrade-try-these-4-things-to-make-the-home-internet-experience-better/

Others have written on this subject – try here for another spin on this subject: https://accucode.com/bandwidth-vs-speed-which-is-more-important-2/

“Canadians paid more than $1.2 billion in wireless data overage fees last year”

https://business.financialpost.com/telecom/canadians-paid-more-than-1-2-billion-in-wireless-data-overage-fees-last-year

What can you do about it? Android users can install a no-root firewall called “NetGuard”. I’m not sure if Apple users can do anything. I did a quick search and nothing came up.

If you’re not too technical, use my NetGuard import file (link below) to auto-configure the app for you. I had to troubleshoot some google system apps to make it run seamlessly. The app works basically by stopping anything from using your data plan unless you say so. You can set apps up to not use data unless you are actually using them as well (screen is on and actively interacting with it). It’s pretty slick. We use about 200MB a month just by using this app. We still get maps/GPS, email, etc. Things we try to avoid doing while on data is using a web browser and video. That doesn’t mean we don’t watch videos. We just indicate that the video is downloaded for offline viewing only while on Wifi (you can do this with Netflix and Plex).

NetGuard link: https://www.netguard.me/
Link to import file: netguard_20181128 – Download to a desktop/laptop and unzip this file with password “1234” (due to wordpress security it doesn’t allow .xml files so using password zip to get around this). Then transfer this file to your phone (e.g. maybe by emailing or certainly via USB transfer).