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I'm new to setting up a home wireless network. I have Comcast TV/Internet/phone service (modem included) as well as a wireless router.

How can I determine the performance of the following parts of the network?

  1. Incoming Internet speed
  2. Speed of the modem
  3. Speed of the wireless router

I basically want as fast an Internet connection as possible, but I'm not sure where to look for the bottleneck (and so, not sure where I can spend some money to speed things up).

Right now I'm getting about 36 Mbps (as it shows in Windows). If I run an online speed test (XFINITY has one) it shows an average download speed of 14.91 Mbps and an average upload speed of 5.72 Mbps.

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Your own tests show your bottleneck to be your internet connection. It is slower than the connection to your router. Although... you should probably look at why your connection to your router isn't at 54mbps (which is wireless 802.11g). But, that is irrelevant really. Your connection to your router is most likely always going to be faster than your upload/download speeds on your net connection. –  Bon Gart Jun 26 '12 at 2:26
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@BonGart has it right. Unless you're running on horribly antiquated hardware (10-Base T wired, or 802.11b wireless) or on a ridiculously huge (enterprise-grade) pipe to your ISP, your connection to the Internet will be your bottleneck. Most SOHO Internet services barely even come close to the speeds achievable on common Wi-Fi networks today, let alone what can be done on a wired connection. –  Iszi Jun 26 '12 at 17:04
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1 Answer

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I took a look at Comcast's current offerings here: http://comcast.com/internet-service.html

The only plans where your home network might begin to bottle-neck the connection are the 50 and 100 Mbps plans. The 50 Mbps plan might start to see some performance degradation across a busy 802.11g Wi-Fi network, and you definitely won't get 100 Mbps on that Wi-Fi. Your wired network should perform fairly well though, since that hardware more than likely runs at 100 Mbps.

If you're on a 50 or 100 Mbps plan, you might want to consider upgrading your wireless to 802.11n with MIMO support. To avoid RF interference, you might also want to move to the 5 GHz band. However, all of this requires that both your Wi-Fi Access Point and your client device(s) support them. Otherwise, you won't see any real advantage.

Chances are, the gateway device provided by your ISP only puts out a 100 Mbps wired connection so there's really no advantage to investing in Gigabit hardware for the wired side unless you plan on having a lot of internal network traffic.

To minimize Wi-Fi interference, and optimize your 2.4 and/or 5 GHz bandwidth, you should also consider running wired connections to all your stationary devices. (i.e.: Game consoles, smart TVs, etc.) This will make it easier for your wireless devices to achieve optimal performance, as well as ensuring better performance and stability for connections to your wired multimedia devices.

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