Understanding Internet and Speeds

Three Main Variables that Affect Internet Speed

We can split the connection to the internet into three main components, which is your network, the MCSnet network, and the network that makes up the internet as a whole.

This page will explore the different factors that affect internet performance. Part One is about your network, which has a large focus on Wi-Fi and different ways to improve it. Part Two is about the MCSnet network and explains the challenges of a wireless provider, and peak usage and speed variance. Part Three is a short account about the internet network and how it can affect performance. Part Four has some stories with more common performance issues and how they were diagnosed and resolved. Part Five gives a further explanation on how Wi-Fi signals work and what you can do to improve connections.

How to Complete a Proper Internet Speed Test

The purpose of performing a speed test is to test the speed of the internet connection. As this guide will show, the internet speeds are influenced at several points along the chain, so we need to take a couple of steps to make sure we are testing the MCSnet connection instead of your home network or another far off internet route.

Proper Speed Test Checklist:

  • All internet activity is suspended, no YouTube, texting, gaming, or anything running on any connected device.
  • Preferably perform your test with a cabled connection to your router, but a known strong Wi-Fi signal will work as a first step as well. For bonus points, you can connect your computer to the internet directly to see how it compares. See Part One: Your Network for details on how routers and Wi-Fi affect performance.
  • Test directly on the MCSnet website here: mcsnet.ca/speedtest. See Part Three: Internet Network for details on why this matters.
  • Get a poor result? If it’s in the late evening, the internet can be slower, so you can try at a different time of day (see Part Two: MCSnet Network for why), or try connecting your computer to the internet directly with a cabled connection to be sure you are getting the most from your network.


Part One: Your Network

Your network is a good place to start since it’s where you have most direct control.

Other sections in this guide....

Part Two: MCSnet Network

After the radio on your roof, the main parts of the MCSnet network are the access points (APs) on the towers that the subscribers connect to, tower to tower feeds, and the connection to the fiber for the region.

Part Three: The Internet Network

We’ve made it from your connection to Edmonton, now the data is outside of the MCSnet network and has to get to the different servers around the world connecting to the internet.

Part Four: Examples of Speed Issues

Here are some practical examples of speed or performance issues, how the subscriber was able to diagnose them, and if possible, how the issue was resolved.

Part Five: Visualizing Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi can strip about 30% of your bandwidth. Learn more about how Wi-Fi could be slowing you down and what you can do about it.

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