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May 1, 2020
Sitting behind your phone or computer screen waiting for a website to load, file to download, or video to buffer can get on anyone’s nerves. We live in a fast-paced society and expect immediate results, which means we need reliable internet with quick speeds to keep up with the world around us.
If you’re having trouble with your internet connection, running a speed test can help provide you answers. When choosing an internet service provider (ISP), you want to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck. An internet speed test will be able to tell you whether your ISP is living up to your expectations.
AT&T is the world’s largest telecommunications company and offers a variety of services, including broadband internet. Whether you’re one of the millions of AT&T internet provider users or are considering their services, you may be curious about their internet speeds.
No matter the ISP you have, occasional lag and slow internet are inevitable. But if you’re regularly having problems with your internet speed, there may be something else going on. That’s where a quick and reliable speed test comes in handy. The AT&T speed test tool measures your AT&T internet speed using a variety of metrics, such as how long it takes to download and upload files to a server.
In this guide, you’ll find steps needed to conduct an AT&T internet speed test, along with information on how to understand your results, speed up your internet, and more.
- What is an internet speed test?
- How do you run an AT&T internet speed test?
- Understanding an internet speed test
- What should my AT&T internet speed be?
- Why is my AT&T WiFi so slow?
- How can I speed up my AT&T internet?
What is an internet speed test?
An internet speed test works by sending a sample file from your ISP server to your computer (download) with directions to send back (upload). The internet speed test then calculates how long it took your computer to download and upload the sample file sent to and from the server.
An internet speed test measures a few key metrics, including:
- Download speed
- Upload speed
It’s standard for internet speed tests to provide you with your upload and download speeds. However, not every speed test will provide bandwidth, ping, and jitter.
How do you run an AT&T internet speed test?
Running an AT&T internet speed test is simple. To get started, follow the steps below.
Step 1: Disconnect all devices besides the one you’re testing
Before running your AT&T speed test, you want to disconnect all devices that are hooked up to the internet, besides the one you’re using to run the test. Running a test with multiple devices connected to the internet can result in an inaccurate reading. This includes disabling:
- Software, such as anti-virus software and multiple browser tabs
- Hardware, such as firewalls and intrusion prevention systems
- Bluetooth devices, such as wireless phones, baby monitors, and wireless video devices
Step 2: Prepare your surroundings
Once you’ve disconnected all devices that can result in WiFi congestion, prepare your surroundings to optimize your results. Some preparation tips include:
- Placing your WiFi router away from electronic devices that can interfere with the connection, such as cordless phones and other devices connected to WiFi
- Positioning your wireless device about 10 feet away from your WiFi gateway
- Checking your computer’s Task Manager or Activity Monitor to ensure your computer isn’t downloading any files in the background
- Connecting to your modem directly with an ethernet cord, if possible, as a direct connection results in faster speeds compared to a wireless connection
Step 3: Access the AT&T Speed Test
To begin your AT&T internet speed test, simply click “Start.” The test should only take about 30 seconds, and once complete, your results will appear on your screen.
Step 4: Read your results
Using our glossary of speed test terms in the previous section, start reading your AT&T speed test results. Your results will show you your download speed (in Mbps), upload speed (in Mbps), and latency (in ms). Your results should resemble the speeds your ISP’s service plan states.
If you don’t remember the details of your plan, log into your ISP’s user portal to find the information on your subscription. There, you should be able to see what internet speed you’re paying for. If you don’t have access to a user portal, try giving your ISP a call. Before you do call to demand a refund, though, it’s important to note that most internet speed tests provide an approximate speed, not an exact, so your results might not be completely accurate.
Note that your download speed will typically be faster than your upload speed, as most internet connections are designed to download files faster than they upload. Think about it: whether it’s just loading a webpage into your cache or downloading documents for work, you’re usually downloading much more often than you’re uploading. ISPs prioritize downloading to optimize service.
Understanding an internet speed test
You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to conduct an AT&T WiFi speed test. Typically, all you have to do is click a button, and the speed test will run automatically. However, understanding the results of your internet speed test might require some baseline knowledge. Take a look at some common speed test terms you may come across below.
Download speed is the time it takes for you to retrieve data from the server. Generally, most bandwidth connections offer faster download speeds than upload speeds. This is because a majority of online activity, such as streaming videos, playing video games, and loading webpages, require a fast download speed, which is measured in megabits per second (Mbps).
Upload speed, on the other hand, is the time it takes for you to send data back to the server. Online activity, such as sending emails, video-chatting with friends and family, and posting photos to social media channels, require quick upload speeds. Upload speed is measured in Mbps.
Ping refers to the responsiveness of messages sent between computers. When you send out a request, such as shooting a basketball in an online multiplayer video game, you get a response, such as an opponent blocking the ball. This response time is your ping rate, and the lower, the better.
A high ping rate can result in lag between computers, which isn’t ideal for programs where timing is imperative, like online gaming or a time-tracking app your work may use when working from home. Ping rate is measured in milliseconds (ms).
While your ping rate is the signal that’s sent from your computer to another on the same network, latency is the time, in milliseconds (ms), for the ping to be sent back to your computer. Latency is more about the quality, rather than the speed of your internet connection.
Mbps, which stands for Megabits per second, is the unit of measurements for internet connection speeds. The more Mbps, the faster your connection will be, because more data can be transferred each second.
What should my AT&T internet speed be?
The FCC’s broadband benchmark rates for download speeds is 25 Mbps and 3 Mbps for upload speeds. If your internet speed doesn’t meet these benchmark rates, it’s not considered broadband in the eyes of the FCC. Unfortunately, over half of all rural Americans and 17% of the entire American population don’t have access to 25 Mbps/2Mbps service. More action is taking place to provide Americans with high-quality services to receive voice, graphics, video, and data in a timely manner.
A 25 Mbps/3 Mbps internet speed enables users to access HD videos, online gaming, music downloading, and other online activity in a speedy fashion. Any internet speeds below the FCC’s benchmark rates are considered slow, which means it can be difficult to connect web-enabled devices, stream videos without buffering, and enjoy surfing the web without experiencing connectivity issues.
Why is my AT&T WiFi so slow?
Whether you’re just trying to get through your favorite Netflix movie without it buffering every few minutes or you need to submit your final essay by the deadline, dealing with a slow internet speed is never ideal. Take a look at some common reasons why your AT&T WiFi is so slow with some easy solutions below.
1. Too many devices are connected to the internet
If a lot of people are connected to the same internet connection at the same time, it can result in slow internet speeds. Each device, such as tablets, computers, mobile phones, smart TVs, and video game consoles, share a portion of your internet signal. If all devices are connected and running at once, you may experience issues with streaming, downloading, or gaming.
Like most internet service providers, AT&T offers different plans you can choose from, such as Internet 10, Internet 18, Internet 25, Internet 50, Internet 100, and Internet 1000. The number for each plan represents the expected download speed. For example, AT&T’s Internet 100 plan has download speeds of 100 Mbps. The lower the plan, the less bandwidth, which means you may experience connectivity issues if multiple users or devices are on the internet.
To solve this problem, consider upgrading your internet plan to one with faster download speeds and more bandwidth to handle multiple users and devices.
2. Interference from other electronics is disrupting your connection
Electronic devices, such as speakers, sound systems, and video game consoles, emit frequency interference when they’re plugged in and running. If these devices are located near your modem, the interference can affect your internet speed and cause it to slow down.
To improve your modem environment, make sure the area around your modem is free of any electronics, is off the floor and located on a hard surface, and is in the open for proper air circulation.
3. Your modem is outdated or needs to be reset
Like all electronic devices, your modem can become outdated and slowly lose its performance. If this is the case, you may need to upgrade to a new modem if you’ve had your current one for a long time. Or, your modem might just need to be reset.
To reset your AT&T modem, press and hold the red reset button on the back. You may need to use an unfolded paper clip or pin to reach the button, as some models house it within a small hole to keep it protected from unintentional presses. Once the modem turns back on, if nothing else is wrong, your internet speed should go back to normal.
4. Your computer has a problem
Sometimes, it’s your computer, not your internet connection, that is causing slow internet speeds. If your computer rig isn’t able to keep up with your daily commands, it might be outdated or need to be repaired. To test if your computer is the problem, disconnect it from the internet and use a different device, such as your smartphone or tablet, to run an internet speed test. If the internet speed test is faster on this device, your computer might be the problem.
To resolve this issue, you can try clearing your cache, deleting files you no longer use or need, emptying your digital trash can, and freeing up space on your hard drive. Most of the time, however, simply turning your computer off and then turning it on again will cycle the system and clear blockages keeping you from properly connecting. If this doesn’t work after multiple tries, there may be something more serious occuring.
5. The wireless channel needs to be changed
The wireless channel is where networks can receive and send data. Sometimes, you may experience dropped signals if your wireless channel is shared by two gateways, such as a cordless phone and WiFi gateway. The same can happen if two frequency channels are located near each other.
To fix this issue, you can change the channel, which reduces frequency interference. You may need to go through some trial and error to find a channel that works best to improve your internet speed.
How can I speed up my AT&T internet?
Dealing with slow internet speeds can be extremely frustrating. After running your AT&T internet speed test and finding that your internet speed is performing below the speeds outlined on your service’s plan, it’s time to take action. Below are ten tips on how to increase slow AT&T WiFi speed:
- Using a wired connection, as this tends to be faster than a wireless connection
- Disabling bandwidth-hogging programs, such as streaming, video-calling, downloading large files, and gaming
- Disconnecting devices you aren’t currently using that are connected to the internet
- Place your WiFi devices closer to the router to get a stronger signal
- Place your WiFi router in the center of your home or the area where you use the internet the most
- Keep your WiFi router upright and off the floor
- Keep your WiFi router from obstructions like metal, brick, and wood, along with sources of interference like baby monitors, microwaves, and Bluetooth devices
- Invest in a WiFi extender that increases signal strength and improves internet coverage
- Update anti-virus software, firmware, and computer software
- Close out of streaming apps, such as Netflix and Spotify, when you’re done watching or listening
There are plenty of reasons why your internet speed may be slow. Fortunately, there are plenty of easy fixes that can speed up your AT&T internet.
However, if your internet speed continues to be a problem, it may be time to contact AT&T support. Before calling, make sure you’ve tried all the tips to increase your internet speed on your own. If nothing works, call with a solid plan and an idea about the prices you’re willing to pay. AT&T’s service representatives will help you troubleshoot any problems you’re experiencing and can help you make the decision on whether you should upgrade your internet plan.
Paul Williams brings a wide range of experiences to his writing. He worked extensively in technology, as a software engineer, technical writer, and now a technology writer. Known as the leader of one of the top American Spacerock bands, his forward-looking music continues to be heard all over the world.