Speed is the ultimate measure of quality for your Internet connection. Sure, you also need a service that won’t drop data packets or randomly sever your network link, but the less time it takes you to download and upload files, the better. Most providers offer a speed test tool you can run to determine the average speed of your Internet connection, and AT&T U-verse is no exception. Here’s what you need to know about running a U-verse test:


Know Your Ping

To determine the speed of your Internet, a test needs to take into account two critical factors: how long it takes to download a file, and how long it takes to upload that same file. In addition, it’s worth knowing your “ping,” which is a measure of the time it takes your computer to get a response from an HTTP request from your Internet provider’s server. Ping is typically measured in milliseconds — the lower this value, the better. A ping below 100 is good, while anything under 50 is great, especially for gaming.

To test download speed, most tests use a run time of 10 or 20 seconds. During this time, your computer downloads small files from a web server. Once the test is complete, you’ll get a measurement in megabits per second (Mbps). The higher the number, the better. For uploads, this process is reversed — your computer sends files to the server — but the results are reported the same way.

Measuring the Last Mile

Many speed tests use what’s called the “last mile” as their standard. This term refers to the final distance data has to travel from your Internet provider’s “hub” to your computer. It’s here that most connections begin to slow, and thus it is the best measure of everyday performance. Ideally, the last mile speed of your connection should be same as advertised by your provider: if you’re paying for 10 Mbps downloads, for example, a speed test should put you in the 9-10 range.

Using the AT&T U-verse Speed Test

Using the AT&T speed test is simple. Start by navigating to AT&T’s test page, then click on the test button. You’ll see a real-time result as the test progresses, indicating how quickly data is being uploaded or downloaded. When the test has finished, you’ll get an onscreen report. The test is a great way to make sure your Internet is performing at its peak; if it isn’t, the test gives you a place to start troubleshooting. You may want to consider running several speed tests in addition to the one offered by your provider — AT&T recommends the Ookla SpeedTest, for example, and Bandwidth Place offers another — since tests may use slightly different metrics to return their results.

AT&T provides an easy way to test U-verse download and upload performance, helping you make sure you’re getting exactly the connection you paid for and at exactly the right speed.

Photo credit: Flickr