When it comes to using the internet, the Wood family may look a lot like your family. Sam is in his bedroom watching a video on his cell phone. His wife, Julie, is in the kitchen checking e-mail on her computer. Their son Christian is in the living room doing biology homework on his laptop, and their other son, Carson, is in the basement playing Xbox.
“I'm actually amazed how many devices I have connected to the internet right now in this house,” Sam told WTHR. “Seems like everything I do is over the internet. We are heavily dependent.”
It’s not just computers, cell phones and gaming consoles that are connected; the Woods also rely on internet service for their wireless printer, two routers, their home phone service and an Amazon Alexa. Even their basement lights, garage door opener and thermostat are connected to the internet.
That's why the family subscribes to AT&T U-verse internet service that promises download speeds up to 50 Mbps (megabits per second) and upload speeds up to 15 Mbps. Sam said the service is usually reliable, but he isn't convinced he's always getting what he's paying for.
“Doesn't always feel that way. During the day, on days we do have problems, there just feels like there's a lag,” he said.
So is the Wood family getting 50 Mbps of internet speed? 13 Investigates brought in an expert to find out.
Speed “cut in half”
Ben Finegan is a technology consultant with Indianapolis-based SIM2K. To test the Wood's internet connection and to see what AT&T is actually delivering to their home, Finegan plugged a computer directly into their modem and ran a speed test.
“We got almost the max speed we should be allowed to get; 49.4 [Mbps] down is almost 50. That looked really good,” he said. Repeating the test several more times utilizing free speed-testing services found on the internet yielded similar results — some even showing the Woods are getting slightly above the 50 Mbps advertised by AT&T.
Keep in mind, Finegan's testing showed the speed to one device (a laptop computer) connected directly to the modem. Most of the time, the Wood family is simultaneously using multiple devices that all rely on WiFi rather than a hard-wired internet connection. So to get a more realistic view of the internet speed that the Woods experience, Finegan ran a second set of speed tests with everyone using their wireless devices. Under those conditions, the download speed dropped significantly.
“We started getting around 27 or 25 Mbps, which is about half of what we should be getting,” Finegan said. “Our bandwidth is effectively cut in half jus