Since I have moved to the new apartment, the intermittent internet interruption has been bothering me. However, this provides me a good opportunity to learn about basic network connection concepts and diagnostic knowledge.
The most common unit for connection speed is mega bit per second (Mbps). Compared to the common numbers shown as the download and upload speed in softwares meta byte per second (MBps), you need to divide by 8.
In Finland for example, the basic network service that is almost free provides 10 Mbps upload/download speed. For common use cases, this is actually enough if you do one job on one device. However, if you perform multple tasks at the same time, you will encounter unwanted delays. Typically for a family, 100 Mbps is enough.
For tasks like gaming, stability is often more important than speed. Packet loss is the term used to measure how much information is lost in the network. Jitter is another term for high variations in connection speed, which acts as another quantity of stability.
Fixing stability issues are much harder than speed.
ping is de-facto tool for network checking, available on all platforms.
It will show you in the end of its execution summary statistics like the following:
--- 188.8.131.52 ping statistics --- 2342 packets transmitted, 2341 received, 0.0426985% packet loss, time 4193057ms rtt min/avg/max/mdev = 6.334/7.367/25.469/1.011 ms
Router provides wired and wifi connection that links you to the modem. It is similar to a network traffic control center for multiple devices. For my network instability and connection problems, they seemed to be fixed by:
- changing wires (less likely, but the first thing to check)
- upgrading the firmware of the router (solved the instability issue)
- cloning device MAC address (solved WAN identification issue as shown here)
Regarding firmware, nowadays routers, even though most of them do have a CPU, they don’t have an operating system. Instead, they are more like embedded systems that rely upon firmwares. In my case, upgrading the firmware does provide much more stable connection.
Another side note is that based on the ping tests, wired connection through the router is slower than direct wired connection: about every minute I see a response time decrease from 8ns to 16ns, while the direct wired connection shows a less varying response time.