Are Smartphone Data Speeds Really That Much Faster Than Home WiFi Speeds?

HappyDude20

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Jul 13, 2008
2,794
252
Los Angeles, Ca
Hello,

So I live in a rural part of West Virginia, like 45 miles from the nearest Walmart or Target.

Here in this house I use my iPhone 24/7. Got Atlantic home internet (at least I think that's what it's called, it's probably Spectrum since I see their logo from time to time in the mailing's letterhead but that doesn't matter) and its absurd how much faster the 4G LTE from my iPhone (carrier Verizon) is.

SpeedTest says that my home WiFi is 15mbps download and 4mbps upload at it's best; essentially when im in the living room nearest to the wifi router and modem. When I go upstairs the service drops to 8mbps download and 3mbps upload.
However, Verizon's 4G LTE on my iPhone 7 Plus when in the living room comes in at 35mbps download and 10mbps upload. When upstairs, Verizon's 4G LTE drops to 17mbps download and 9mbps upload.

Clearly, Verizon's network is faster than my home wifi network. Why should I be paying $60 a month when I have an Unlimited plan from Verizon from like 6 years ago that gives me unlimited data without throttling?

I do use WiFi tether frequently when connecting my iPad or MBP to my iPhone 7 Plus and it's never been an issue.

With taxes and the modem rental im paying like $70+ a month for this slow WiFi and admittedly just for the convenience of my kid's X Box being connected to the internet 24/7, which they only use twice a week.

I'm considering cancelling the WiFi service I have mainly because I truly do hate how slow it is and boy does it show.

The only downside would be that whenever my wife wants to use her iPad or Mac, she'll have to connect to her iPhone with the tethering feature, same for my kid and myself.


------

By the way, and this is a side note, looking at my SpeedTest results history it seems that the fastest WiFi network I've ever connected to on my iPhone 7 Plus was at a museum in Washington DC where the download speed was 147mbps and upload speed was 55mbps. Out of curiosity, what's the limit on our iPhones? Hell, what's the limit on our Macs and iPads while we're at it?
 

vertical smile

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Sep 23, 2014
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Do you know what kind of broad band service do you have? DSL, Cable, etc.?
Also, what speeds are you paying for?

It is probably DSL, which those speeds are not bad with DSL.



rural part of West Virginia
Well, this might have something to do with your speeds, as rural parts of the US tend to have much slower broadband than non-rural areas.

Where I live, there is 2Gbps service availble for $300 a month.
I typically use 100Mbps service for $39.99 a month, although I switch ISPs at least once a year.

Why should I be paying $60 a month when I have an Unlimited plan from Verizon from like 6 years ago that gives me unlimited data without throttling?
This might be your best choice, but it would be hard for any of else to tell you without knowing all the options and what you use your internet for.

I bet that for most people, using LTE would be unrealistic. Even if they could get the same deal as you in terms of price and unlimited, unthrottled data, there are issues with using LTE.

Besides the cost and convenience factors, there are technical issues for using LTE for as home internet. As you already pointed out, LTE can be pretty inconsistent. Typically LTE will have higher latency than most home broadband services. Depending on how bad it is, this could be a problem for real-time activities.

The only downside would be that whenever my wife wants to use her iPad or Mac, she'll have to connect to her iPhone with the tethering feature, same for my kid and myself.
This just wouldn't work for my family.

The convience factor alone would be reason for me to have home broadband.

SpeedTest says that my home WiFi is 15mbps download and 4mbps upload at it's best; essentially when im in the living room nearest to the wifi router and modem. When I go upstairs the service drops to 8mbps download and 3mbps upload.
I am thinking your issues might be equipment related. Maybe you should give a newer router a try, or check your ISP speed using a wired connect.

I think you should probably give as much info as possible for anyone to give advice on your situation.
 

HappyDude20

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Jul 13, 2008
2,794
252
Los Angeles, Ca
Do you know what kind of broad band service do you have? DSL, Cable, etc.?
Also, what speeds are you paying for?

Where I live, there is 2Gbps service availble for $300 a month.
I typically use 100Mbps service for $39.99 a month, although I switch ISPs at least once a year.
The only reason I'll guess it's DSL is cause I believe the modem is connected to the telephone jack outlet on my wall. Not sure, I'll have to check when I get home tonight.

Gotta ask, why do you switch ISPs at least once a year? Sounds costly.
- - Post merged: - -

I am thinking your issues might be equipment related. Maybe you should give a newer router a try, or check your ISP speed using a wired connect.

I think you should probably give as much info as possible for anyone to give advice on your situation.
I just purchased a Netgear CM500 Cable Modem last week and that's what's currently powering us at home. The WiFi router is an AirPort Extreme, last model I believe.
 
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vertical smile

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Sep 23, 2014
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Gotta ask, why do you switch ISPs at least once a year? Sounds costly.
It is the opposite, I do it to save money, a lot of money.

Were I live, I have a choice of a few ISPs.

They all offer an introductory “New Customer” rate to try to get new subscribers. Usually after 12 months, the rates start to increase. You can call the ISPs to negotiate a cheaper rate, but rarely is it ever as good as that new customer rate.

So, I just switch to a cheaper IS


I started the yearly switching about 9 years ago, and have saved thousands of $$$$ By doing so.

I typically pay $30-40 a month, depending on the special they are having, and it is usually 100Mbps download speeds.
 

HappyDude20

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Jul 13, 2008
2,794
252
Los Angeles, Ca
It is the opposite, I do it to save money, a lot of money.

Were I live, I have a choice of a few ISPs.

They all offer an introductory “New Customer” rate to try to get new subscribers. Usually after 12 months, the rates start to increase. You can call the ISPs to negotiate a cheaper rate, but rarely is it ever as good as that new customer rate.

So, I just switch to a cheaper IS


I started the yearly switching about 9 years ago, and have saved thousands of $$$$ By doing so.

I typically pay $30-40 a month, depending on the special they are having, and it is usually 100Mbps download speeds.
nice. I doubt I have that many options out here. I probably only have the one. If it was in a major city I’d probably do the same.
 

jtara

macrumors 68000
Mar 23, 2009
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There’s no such thing as “WiFi internet service”. You have some wired internet service coming into the house, connected to a combined modem and WiFi router. Since your speed is asymmetrical, I assume it is cable, rather than DSL. (Do you have cable tv through the same carrier?)

Note there are some services that do deliver internet via a point-point RF connection, it these are generally at symmetrical speeds. In fact, I have symmetrical 1gps service through WebPass. My building gets a point-point RF connection from a newer nearby high rise building that has fiber. It this is not “wi-fi”.

Start by finding out what speed your carrier advertises/promises. Don’t rely on Speedtest. And Speedtest is NOT a good way to test your WiFi anyway. It will test the full path from your device to an internet test server. More useful to know both your WiFi throughput (likely many times your Internet speed!)

Devices that can be wired with an ethernet connection should be wired. Get a small switch if your modem has only one Ethernet port.

Good ways of testing you local WiFi throughput are iperf3 or WiFi Sweet Spots. Search. There are apps.
- - Post merged: - -

You don’t have to teather to your phone. You can get an LTE dongle that plugs in to a WiFi router, which can then connect to wired and WiFi devices in your home. Your phone carrier will likely charge you some extra fee for this, similar to the fee for adding data on an additional phone, service for an Apple Watch, etc. many “road warriors” use these dongles with laptop computers. You. An even get an LTE modem that can work with an outdoor antenna, which would help maximize your link speed to the internet. It’s then up to you to come up with suitable WiFi distribution within your home. THAT part is easy-peasey.
 
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HDFan

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Jun 30, 2007
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Out of curiosity, what's the limit on our iPhones? Hell, what's the limit on our Macs and iPads while we're at it?
There a number of constraint points.

For ethernet theoretical maximums on a 1 Gb connection are in the 800 Mbps range depending on configuration.


For WiFi AC it depends upon the router and the client. Typically you see quoted theoretical speeds of ~1300 Mbps.

For WiFi AX it depends upon the router and the client. Supposedly 4 to 10 times faster.

When I go upstairs the service drops to 8mbps download and 3mbps upload.
As above that's a router issue. You could consider purchasing your own modem and router. If your network is that slow even at its' best may not be worth it.

Start by finding out what speed your carrier advertises/promises. Don’t rely on Speedtest.
I use the the Tamosoft Mac, IOS, and Apple TV throughput test apps to quantify the speed of my local network.

Using an AX router and IOS device I've seen IOS speeds of 741 Mbps. On my iMac ethernet I've hit 974 Mbps, but the average is around 432.
 

eyoungren

macrumors Core
Aug 31, 2011
21,533
13,482
ten-zero-eleven-zero-zero by zero-two
Hello,

So I live in a rural part of West Virginia, like 45 miles from the nearest Walmart or Target.

Here in this house I use my iPhone 24/7. Got Atlantic home internet (at least I think that's what it's called, it's probably Spectrum since I see their logo from time to time in the mailing's letterhead but that doesn't matter) and its absurd how much faster the 4G LTE from my iPhone (carrier Verizon) is.

SpeedTest says that my home WiFi is 15mbps download and 4mbps upload at it's best; essentially when im in the living room nearest to the wifi router and modem. When I go upstairs the service drops to 8mbps download and 3mbps upload.
However, Verizon's 4G LTE on my iPhone 7 Plus when in the living room comes in at 35mbps download and 10mbps upload. When upstairs, Verizon's 4G LTE drops to 17mbps download and 9mbps upload.

Clearly, Verizon's network is faster than my home wifi network. Why should I be paying $60 a month when I have an Unlimited plan from Verizon from like 6 years ago that gives me unlimited data without throttling?

I do use WiFi tether frequently when connecting my iPad or MBP to my iPhone 7 Plus and it's never been an issue.

With taxes and the modem rental im paying like $70+ a month for this slow WiFi and admittedly just for the convenience of my kid's X Box being connected to the internet 24/7, which they only use twice a week.

I'm considering cancelling the WiFi service I have mainly because I truly do hate how slow it is and boy does it show.

The only downside would be that whenever my wife wants to use her iPad or Mac, she'll have to connect to her iPhone with the tethering feature, same for my kid and myself.


------

By the way, and this is a side note, looking at my SpeedTest results history it seems that the fastest WiFi network I've ever connected to on my iPhone 7 Plus was at a museum in Washington DC where the download speed was 147mbps and upload speed was 55mbps. Out of curiosity, what's the limit on our iPhones? Hell, what's the limit on our Macs and iPads while we're at it?
What speeds do you get when you plug a cable into your router and then into a computer?

I have an ASUS RT-AC3200 which gives me 802.11ac WiFi. And that's great, but I got it because it's a Gigabit router, and I have a gigabit home network and pay Cox for a gigabit internet connection - via ethernet. I don't get gigabit speeds on WiFi, even with an 802.11ac router.
 

Huntn

macrumors demi-god
May 5, 2008
18,018
18,310
The Misty Mountains
Hello,

So I live in a rural part of West Virginia, like 45 miles from the nearest Walmart or Target.

Here in this house I use my iPhone 24/7. Got Atlantic home internet (at least I think that's what it's called, it's probably Spectrum since I see their logo from time to time in the mailing's letterhead but that doesn't matter) and its absurd how much faster the 4G LTE from my iPhone (carrier Verizon) is.

SpeedTest says that my home WiFi is 15mbps download and 4mbps upload at it's best; essentially when im in the living room nearest to the wifi router and modem. When I go upstairs the service drops to 8mbps download and 3mbps upload.
However, Verizon's 4G LTE on my iPhone 7 Plus when in the living room comes in at 35mbps download and 10mbps upload. When upstairs, Verizon's 4G LTE drops to 17mbps download and 9mbps upload.

Clearly, Verizon's network is faster than my home wifi network. Why should I be paying $60 a month when I have an Unlimited plan from Verizon from like 6 years ago that gives me unlimited data without throttling?

I do use WiFi tether frequently when connecting my iPad or MBP to my iPhone 7 Plus and it's never been an issue.

With taxes and the modem rental im paying like $70+ a month for this slow WiFi and admittedly just for the convenience of my kid's X Box being connected to the internet 24/7, which they only use twice a week.

I'm considering cancelling the WiFi service I have mainly because I truly do hate how slow it is and boy does it show.

The only downside would be that whenever my wife wants to use her iPad or Mac, she'll have to connect to her iPhone with the tethering feature, same for my kid and myself.


------

By the way, and this is a side note, looking at my SpeedTest results history it seems that the fastest WiFi network I've ever connected to on my iPhone 7 Plus was at a museum in Washington DC where the download speed was 147mbps and upload speed was 55mbps. Out of curiosity, what's the limit on our iPhones? Hell, what's the limit on our Macs and iPads while we're at it?
Your home Internet, is this a cable or DSL?
 

jeyf

macrumors 65816
Jan 20, 2009
1,414
614
I have fiber 1Gbit service $65/mo.

internet providers express speed as "bit" per second. Even Giga bit service in the scheme of things this is not very fast.
rural life is nice but is not sustainable for the internet of things.

if i run a speed test it bounces a signal off some one's server, your bad if its an old junk server:
i use a comCast server my speed test is 800K bits per second
i use my internet provider's server its 600K bits per second
go figure i was expecting 1000K bits per second because i am paying for giga service?? not

depends what you want to measure:
the speed of your wifi, run the speed test while connected to your wifi
the speed of your provider run the speed test as soon as it gets into your house before you connect any junk.
 

vertical smile

macrumors 601
Sep 23, 2014
4,292
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if i run a speed test it bounces a signal off some one's server, your bad if its an old junk server:
i use a comCast server my speed test is 800K bits per second
i use my internet provider's server its 600K bits per second
go figure i was expecting 1000K bits per second because i am paying for giga service??
You mean "M" and not "K", correct?


As for the OP, it is really hard to be sure of what is going on with their ISP/Network issues without more info.

As a few of us already mentioned, it sounds like at a minimum that the OP is having some wireless networking issues with the dramatic drop in speed, so I bet new hardware would probably improve that situation, and maybe other issues as well.

But, without knowing basic info such as of ISP, promised speed of service, wired speed, etc. it is really hard to help the OP.

But, I can make a few educated guesses:
I just purchased a Netgear CM500 Cable Modem last week and that's what's currently powering us at home.
So, the OP most likely has Cable service for internet. But, we have no idea what the service that the OP is paying for.

SpeedTest says that my home WiFi is 15mbps download and 4mbps upload at it's best
This could be the service the OP is paying for. 5Mbps upload is typical for cable companies upload speed for service tiers below 75Mbps download.

My local cable ISP has a 15Mbps/5Mbps upload plan, which ironically is twice as much as their 100Mbps/10Mbps plan. I am not even sure why they offer the slower plan, who would pay for it when they can get the faster speed for twice as much. Anyways, the OP might have a similar plan.

But, I suspect the problem is probably the router:
The WiFi router is an AirPort Extreme, last model I believe.
To the OP: I would test the wired speed, if possible. Also, it might be a good time to replace your AirPort router.

My parents have been having issues with their network, and I determined it was their AirPort that started to fail. I got them this and they had a huge, dramatic increase in speed all over their home:


It was crazy easy to set up, and I am thinking of replacing my AirPort network with something similar.
 

jtara

macrumors 68000
Mar 23, 2009
1,903
475
Again, SpeedTest is NOT a good way to test your WiFi throughput!

it is good to test your Internet throughput when used on a wired device.

it is good to test total path throughput from a WiFi device to Internet.

it does not/cannot isolate WiFi throughput!

in any case, make sure to run multiple tests against multiple test servers. It is a blunt tool because the internet backbone is by its very nature unpredictable.