Networking – How to adjust the router to allow the ISP’s full speed


My ISP advertises 100+ Mbps download speeds. I have only been getting about 25 Mbps, so I contacted a support agent and was told that if I'm connecting through a router, there might be something misconfigured that would be hampering my speed. I was skeptical, but I followed the agent's instructions to power cycle my cable modem and connect directly to it with Ethernet, instead of through the router. Lo and behold, I instantly achieved 105 Mbps. So what on Earth is going on with my router? The help agent wasn't super easy to understand, but she mentioned something about "bad channel" and contacting Linksys. I'm wondering if there are just some configuration issues I don't know about that are limiting my speeds.

My router is a Cisco/Linksys EA4500. Most of my devices connect to it wirelessly. My main PC connects via Ethernet to one of its 4 physical ports. The router is fed from a cable modem that was provided by my ISP.

For what it's worth, I know I enabled some sort of "smart traffic prioritization" feature on my router that would supposedly smartly identify media content from specified devices (ie Netflix on iPad and Blu-Ray player) and give those packets the highest priority. I wouldn't think this would translate to "automatically limit all other devices to 1/4th of the available speed" but who knows?

Best Answer

Much to my surprise, the problem was indeed the media prioritization feature of the router. When I disabled it, I was able to soar to speeds approaching 110 Mbps. I re-enabled it and once again saw my speeds drop to ~25 Mbps. Disabled it again and right back up to 105+ Mbps.

I find this shocking, and a little irresponsible on the part of Linksys to not be more specific in the included documentation regarding what this "feature" does. I assumed it was a "smart" feature that would examine packets and/or take note of IP addresses in order to determine which packets were likely to be containing streaming media, and then give those packets priority over others for the duration of a session. That is, I expected it would only give priority to the specified "media" devices when they were actively streaming content and competing for bandwidth with other devices. I did NOT expect that it would blindly limit any device not on the "media prioritized" list to less than a quarter of my bandwidth. I live alone, and I've missed out on months of high bandwidth I pay for because of this "feature."

For people of the future who might find this by a search, beware: Media Prioritization on Linksys EA4500 router will cripple the bandwidth given to your "non-media" devices. Be sure this feature will actually be useful in your scenario before enabling it. Perhaps if you have kids who chew up all of your bandwidth, you might specify your own computer/device as prioritized to ensure it gets a good chunk. Otherwise, this feature may just make things worse for you.