Interpreting An Internet Speed Test Isn’t Difficult
Many RVers require stable internet for work, streaming, travel planning, finding local attractions, and more. This is why we have incorporated the internet speed test feature into RV LIFE Campgrounds and the RV LIFE RV Safe GPS app. So what is a speed test, and how do you interpret speed test results?
Internet Speed Test Basics: What Do The Numbers Mean?
Speed is typically measured in units over time. A car going 60 miles an hour (mph) will travel 120 miles in two hours. Water leaving a hose at one gallon per minute (GPM) will fill a five-gallon bucket in five minutes. In the case of internet speed, the “unit” that is measured over time is data. So internet speed is simply the amount of data that is transferred over a given amount of time. It’s measured in megabits per second (Mbps).
For most users, download speed is the most important part of the speed test. It tells you how fast you can receive information from the internet. Streaming, browsing the web, and checking your email requires you to download information. Unless you are only checking email, a good minimum speed for a pleasant internet or streaming experience is at least 5Mbps for a single user.
How much download speed do I need?
It’s possible to get by with speeds under one megabit when browsing the web, and some streaming sites like YouTube will work at speeds as low as 1Mbps. But different activities require various speeds. Below you’ll find some recommended download speeds.
The upload speed is a measurement of how fast your device can send information out to the web. It is usually slower than your download speed. The vast majority of people do a lot more downloading than they do uploading. However, if you require video chat, uploading large files, or live streaming video from a phone or computer, you may require higher upload speeds.
How much upload speed do I need?
Most internet activities work fine with an upload speed of 1-2Mbps. However, if you often video conference or routinely upload various large files, it’s recommended to have an upload speed of around 25Mbps.
Ping, also known as latency, is a measurement of the time it takes to get a response. When you tell your device to fetch RVLIFE.com, it sends that request through a complicated network of computers, wireless signals, and wired signals that almost resemble a vast highway system.
That request must travel the highway’s roads until it reaches the right destination computer. Then the destination computer must send its response back to you through the same highway. Just like actual highways, the number of stops, route changes, and distance all affect how fast you get your response.
Ping is measured in milliseconds, so relative to how we perceive time, it’s super fast. However, in the computer world, high ping time can affect things like internet calls, video chat, and online gaming by making them choppy, slow, or unusable. This is why it’s a common part of a speed test.
What affects your ping?
- Network congestion: Too many people on the RV park Wi-Fi or cell network.
- Outdated Wi-Fi equipment: This can be your equipment, the parks, or poorly maintained/outdated cell towers.
- Internet applications: If you have a lot of different applications using the internet on your own device, it can affect ping.
What is a good ping?
- <30ms: Excellent ping
- 30-50ms: This is an average ping and will not cause any gaming, video chat, or internet issues.
- 50-100ms: You may notice issues with video calls and gaming around 100ms, but web browsing should still be smooth.
- 100-500ms: At around 150ms, video calls and gaming will become choppy or unusable, and there will be a noticeable delay in web browsing the closer to 500ms you get.
- >500ms: Anything over 500ms will cause noticeable delays and a frustrating user experience.
While your ping measures response time, jitter is another internet quality measurement that tells you the variance in ping speed. In a perfect world, a 20ms ping would be a constant. However, several things like network congestion and the park’s equipment setup can cause the ping speed to vary. In other words, some data might only take 15ms while others take 100ms. This variance is jitter which is also measured in milliseconds.
What is a good jitter result?
Jitter mainly affects things like voice and video calls over the internet, online gaming, and other interactive internet activities. For those activities, you want your speed test to show 30ms or less of jitter.
If you are just browsing the web or streaming a movie, jitter won’t have as much of a noticeable effect. Therefore jitter can be a lot higher without negatively impacting your experience.
Why use the RV LIFE Internet Speed Test?
There are plenty of internet speed test apps and sites out there, but when you check your internet speed using RV LIFE, you can help out your fellow RVers. Just like your park reviews let other RVers know important information about the park, each internet speed test you take while at a location gets attached to that park. We use that information to give you the speed statistics that you see while looking at RV LIFE Campgrounds and the connectivity tab in the RV LIFE app.
Note: No personal info other than the speed and carrier is collected from your device when you use the speed test feature.
On the RV LIFE App
- Open the RV LIFE app. It will automatically detect the park you are at.
- Tap “Run a Quick Speed Test.”
- The internet speed test takes about 15 seconds and it will show you your download speed.
- Once you tap done, your speed will be submitted to help fellow RVers.
On RV LIFE Campgrounds
- Under the Submit tab of the RV LIFE Campgrounds menu, you will see “Submit a Speed Test.”
- Once clicked, the site will attempt to find the campground you are in. However, know that you can check your speed whether you are at an RV park or not.
- A dialogue box will appear with the closest park found. If this is the right park, click “Take Speed Test.”
- The internet speed test window will open and run.
- Alternatively, there is a “Submit a Speed Test” button in the connectivity section of each campground review page.
You’re ready to start testing
Now that you know what an internet speed test is, how to interpret the results, and how to submit your RV park speed tests through the RV LIFE app and RV LIFE Campgrounds, you are ready to start checking your speeds and helping other RVers stay connected on the road.
Levi Henley and his wife, Natalie, workamp around the country in their
26-foot motorhome. Along with writing for RV magazines, they recently
published their first book together, Seasonal Workamping for a Living: How
We Did It. They share their experiences and RV-related tips on their own
blog henleyshappytrails.com as well as videos on their YouTube Channel,
also called Henley’s Happy Trails.