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Slow internet – Five signs you need better internet access

A person biting a pencil in frustration, looking at a computer with slow internet

We talk a lot about the benefits of fast, reliable fiber internet. Let’s flip the script; here are five signs your slow, unreliable internet is letting you down.

1. You’ve got a high score in the Dinosaur Game

If you recognize this little guy from his starring role in the aptly titled Dinosaur Game, you know the frustration of unreliable, slow internet.

This little dinosaur is the de facto mascot for the Chrome browser. It pops up when Google’s Chrome browser can’t connect. 

If you hit the spacebar, the Dinosaur Game begins and you’re jumping obstacles in a simple monochrome side-scroller until your internet connection comes back. Hopefully, that happens before you progress far enough to have to both jump and duck obstacles. Hopefully, you never post a high score.

Hopefully.

2. “Can you hear me now?” in video calls

Video calls really came into their own in 2020. We got pretty good at video calling pretty quickly. Those new to video calling discovered what video vets have long known: Video calls are no fun if your internet connection can’t keep pace.

“Can you hear…” “Oh, no… you go ahead.” “I can hear you… can you hear me?” “Maybe I’ll try to go audio-only.” “Hold on, I’m going to try to reconnect.”

If you’re dealing with this oh-so-frustrating symptom, look at your upload speed first. 

Ping and jitter are also key factors in overall call quality. If you’ve ever had a call where there’s a perceptible delay, those are the speed test numbers to look out for. We’ll talk about ping and jitter a little more in the next section.

3. When you say “OMG, lag!” it’s actually true

In online gaming, lag is the oldest excuse in the book. It can be leveled as an accusation (“you’re lagging, noob”) or a justification (“I would have had you if it weren’t for this gosh-darned lag! I’m sure your mother is a nice person though.*”)

Lag is the bane of the online gamer’s existence. Online gaming doesn’t require a terribly high sustained download or upload speed; your online gaming experience lives and dies by ping and its close cousin jitter. 

Ping is measured in milliseconds (ms) and is basically how long it takes for a tiny data packet to travel from your device to your provider’s server and for a response to come back. The data packets may be tiny, but online gaming requires sending and receiving a lot of them quickly. A high ping suggests network congestion at the service provider level and manifests as lag. Jitter is basically a ± on ping; the variability in your high and low ping.

Consider a ping of anything below 25ms a competitive advantage when playing online. Consider anything over 50ms a handicap and anything over 100ms a real problem.

*This is totally the way people speak to each other in online games.

4. Slow internet has you streaming in SD

Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and other streaming services have a feature that lets you dial back the resolution. If your connection isn’t keeping pace, they’ll often dial video quality back for you automatically. If you’ve ever seen your 4K movie drop back to HD (high definition) or even to a blocky SD (standard definition), you may be suffering from sub-par internet access. 

If your movie night takes forever to get started because of buffering, or if your experience is interrupted by the dreaded buffering wheel, dialing back the resolution to correct for slow internet is a useful trick. Sure, it can make your movie look like a bootleg copy recorded on a camcorder in the theater… but at least you’re watching the movie. Right?!

It doesn’t have to be that way.

5. You know the hold music by heart

If you’ve experienced any of these slow internet issues, you’ve probably tried to call your service provider in search of a solution. Maybe the first few times you went in feeling optimistic. After a couple of calls, though, you’re no closer to a satisfactory answer. You’ve memorized the phone tree (“For billing inquiries, press one. To hear our latest offers and why you, as a long-standing customer can’t avail yourself of them, press two. To threaten to cancel so you can speak to someone in our retention department who may give you a few bucks off your bill if you sign a contract, press three…” and eventually “For technical support, press eight.”)

Worse, you know the weird, inoffensive but somehow infuriating hold music by heart. Perhaps you’ve even considered recording an interpretive dance to share on TikTok.

You deserve better internet

For fast, reliable fiber internet access with up to 1000 Mbps download and upload speeds, super low ping, and nary a jot of jitter, check your address to see if Ting Internet is available in your neighborhood.