Do you need a new router?

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Most households and small businesses use a router to distribute the internet signal. You might have purchased the router, or your internet provider may place it with your for you to use, but they still own it. Also, your modem may also be a router (all in one box) or your router might be a separate unit. There’s really no “normal” configuration for all these factors.


What happens when your internet service provider’s router becomes old, outdated, or just worn out? That’s when they’ll call you up and say, “Hey there Mr. or Mrs. Customer – we need to get you a new router, so your internet connection is the best it can be!”, right?

Uh, no. It doesn’t usually work that way.

More often, you start to notice your internet connection speed get slower and slower, and sometimes you might get the familiar “This page cannot be found” error because the internet connection has dropped altogether. A lot of times restarting the computer or the router (or both) takes care of the problem. But if the router is just too old, that’s just a temporary fix. When a router is no longer working like it should, it needs to be replaced.

But when an ISP has many thousands of customers and a big chunk of them have old routers that need to be replaced, doing that all at once would represent a huge expense. Why would they want to spend all that money on new equipment when a lot of those people haven’t even complained about it?

Instead, they will handle each customer complaint on a case by case basis and replace the routers as needed. So you need to be proactive about it.

BUT – you can’t just call them up and say, “My internet is too slow”. That’s just an opinion. You need to have measurable proof that the internet speed is sub-par before you ever make the call.

Here’s how you check your internet connection speed:

1. Go to the website If you don’t use an ad blocker, you’ll see some ads that will try to get you to click on them to check your speed or download something. Ignore all those ads. The only thing you want to do is run the actual internet connection speed test right in the middle of the page. After the page has fully loaded, you’ll see a big button in the middle that says “Begin Test”:



2. As you can see, the site figures out where you are located and puts a green triangle there (I’m in the Tampa Bay area of Florida). When you click “Begin Test” the analysis can get started. It only takes about 30 seconds.

3. What you want to pay attention to (you should write them down) are the download speed and upload speed. When the test is finished, it will look like this:



That’s the information you want to have on hand when you call your internet provider. But there’s a RIGHT way to ask them about this, and there’s a WRONG way.

The wrong way: “I just checked my internet speed, and I’m getting ___ download and ___ upload. Is that normal?”

This is wrong because then it’s really easy for the internet provider to say, “Oh yes, that’s right in the range of what your speed should be based on the package you have purchased.” In addition, they now have the perfect opportunity to try to UPsell you on buying a faster package. You have already indicated that you want faster speed, so you are obviously the perfect candidate for that sales pitch.

The right way: “Can you tell me, based on my monthly internet package, what kind of internet speeds should I be expecting?”

When you phrase it that way, they have to give you a number first. If it matches what Speedtest said you are getting, then you’re getting what you’re paying for. But if the ISP says you should be getting 50-60 download, and the test says you’re getting 30-40, then you have something to complain about. At that point, your internet provider has already said that you should be getting a certain level of speed and your test proves that you’re not getting it.

If that happens, usually the ISP will either have a technician come out to check your installation, or they’ll do some diagnostics on the router and/or modem (whichever is provided by them) and probably give you a new one if yours is too old or outdated.

What if YOU own the router?

If they run their tests and it comes back that the modem is working fine, the problem could be the router that you purchased and installed. It may need to be replaced. Fortunately, they are not that expensive so it might be time to get a new one. For home use, a router in the $50 – $75 range is almost always sufficient. Personally, I like Linksys routers because they’re really easy to set up, but other brands such as Netgear or Belkin will usually work fine. If you have any trouble with the installation, they’ll have a phone number for you to call their Tech Support and they can walk you through it (you’ll most likely be speaking to someone whose first language is not English though).

If you’ve had your router for a while, getting a brand new one could mean a world of difference for your internet connection.

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Ron Williams
February 17th, 2015


Since most folks these days use wireless access in their homes, SpeedTest will show much lower numbers than their internet service provider will tell them. I wonder how the numbers should be looked at and compared since the IP is not really responsible for your wireless access speed.

Best regards, Ron

Scott Johnson
February 17th, 2015

Good point Ron. For the test, you can connect a laptop directly to the router with an ethernet cable rather than connecting wirelessly.

Nancy Mariani
February 17th, 2015

Great topic. I am paying Verizon for 50/50 service. Tested both my laptop and pc. They tested under 7 mbps!!!! Called Verizon and am getting a new router. Thanks Scott !!!

Scott Johnson
February 17th, 2015

Nice job Nancy!