Internet speeds vary wildly across the UK with some locations having access to super-fast fibre optic connections while others barely meet Ofcom’s minimum recommendations. But how can you test your internet connection to make sure it is fast enough for live streaming?
In this article, we will cover everything you need to test your internet connection to ensure you can live stream from your church without interruption.
Upload vs Download Speed
Talking about internet speeds can get confusing fast.
- What’s the difference between megabit and megabyte?
- How does a high ping result affect live streaming?
- Should I focus on upload or download?
- Why is my connection slow?
These are all questions that come up often when talking about live streaming speeds.
There are two sides to an internet connection called bandwidth.
How Speed is Measured
Downloading is when you are receiving data from somewhere on the internet and using it on your device. Uploading is when you take something from your device and send it to the internet. You can think of data on the internet in the same way that we would send and receive packages of documents via Royal Mail.
Both download and upload speeds get measured in megabits per second or Mbps for short (MBps is a different measurement system, which is not often used for internet speeds). Luckily the industry has adopted this measurement as a standard, so there’s no need to convert or calculate anything.
What to Look For
The critical number which will affect your ability to live stream reliably is your upload speed as you will take data from your device—a video feed—and send it to the internet so your congregation can watch.
Since uploading large amounts of data is not common compared to downloading data, internet service providers generally offer a lower upload speed to keep their networks flowing smoothly. So while your download speeds could be high, you might find your upload speeds to be smaller than you expected.
How to Test Your Internet Speed
For all internet connections, there will be a modem or router which manages your access to the internet. This device also gives a WiFi signal that enables us to use the internet wirelessly within the building. The further away you get from the router, the weaker the WiFi signal, thus lowering our internet speeds.
What this means is that while your internet could be great for live streaming, your WiFi signal might let you down.
Which Factors Affect WiFi Signal?
A lot of factors can affect your WiFi signal with the two most common being your distance from the router and the structure of the building. We recommend testing multiple times in different locations to understand better if the limitation is your incoming connection or something with your WiFi signal. Not sure how to test your internet speed? Check out this article.
What if My Internet Connection is Not Good Enough?
It can be frustrating to discover your internet connection can’t handle the live streaming quality you want to use. There are several things you can do to check if your internet connection is the best one available in your area.
- Check with your ISP
- Contact your internet service provider and check to see if the speeds you have are in line with what you are paying. Sometimes there could be a technical issue the provider is unaware of that could impact your rates. Another possibility is that your modem and router is older and needs an upgrade.
- Ask your ISP if there is another connection type you can upgrade to. Internet technology changes every year, so your current connection could be lagging a few years behind what your ISP can provide.
- Check with Ofcom
- If your internet speed is much lower than what the ISP is advertising, then it might be worth checking the Ofcom guidelines. They offer great advice on how you can go about testing your connection and what your rights are if your results don’t match what you’re paying for.
- If speaking with your ISP doesn’t produce good results, it might be time to check if other providers can deliver a better service to you. The best way to check who is serving your area is to use the Ofcom broadband coverage checker to see a coverage map of your k by area. Just enter your postcode and Ofcom will show you the options
What if My WiFi Signal is Not Good Enough?
Sometimes your internet connection has high speeds, but your WiFi connection further away is much slower. There are a lot of things that could impact your WiFi signal. It could be the distance between you and your router or the structure of the building. The closer to your router you are, the stronger the signal will be, leading to a more reliable connection and better speeds.
Moving your router is not always a practical solution, so let’s look at some easy ways you can boost your WiFi signal.
Use a Powerline Network Adaptor
Powerline is a technology that uses your existing electrical wiring running through the walls to send network data. They are straightforward to install and can send the internet connection to anywhere within the building.
Powerline works by plugging a transmitter into a wall socket and then connecting it to your router by a network cable (included in the box). Elsewhere in the building, you can plug in a receiver which will sense connect back to the transmitter over the electrical wiring and give out its WiFi signal. We recommend this complete kit from TP-Link.
In some older buildings, the electrical wiring may not be suitable for Powerline technology. If it does not work for you, consider adding a WiFi repeater instead.
Add a WiFi Repeater
WiFi repeaters work by receiving the WiFi signal of your router and then re-broadcasting it. Their performance depends heavily on where you plug them in. Ideally, you should install them about halfway between the pulpit and your router. All you need is an empty socket.
Setting up a WiFi repeater is a little bit more involved than a Powerline adaptor, but most models will take less than 10 minutes.
We recommend one of these two great models from TP-Link, the RE305 and the R450. The RE305 is better suited to situations where your WiFi signal is medium to weak, whereas the R450 is better for when your WiFi signal is terrible.
Connect by Cable
Sometimes the distance between your router and the pulpit is so far that you would need multiple repeaters to get any kind of signal. Here, it is better to install an ethernet cable that ends close to the pulpit and to connect a WiFi access point.
The costs for installing the cable can vary significantly depending on the building structure, the path the cable has to take, and the person doing the installation.
Our recommendation is to call a few local IT companies and ask them for quotations. You could also put a message out to your congregation, as there might be someone who has enough experience to install the cable for you.
If All Else Fails: Get a Different Connection
Sometimes the internet speeds in your area just aren’t good enough to handle live streaming. Or maybe the cost of running an ethernet cable and putting in a new access point is just too high. Thankfully, there is another alternative. Using mobile phone 4G connections can give you tremendous and reliable speeds.
Check out our article here about using 4G internet for live streaming where we cover different options, provide some helpful tips, and advice on how you can ensure you don’t go over your data cap.