I have slow broadband

My broadband’s slow, what can I do?

Do you live in a “Not Spot” and experience slow broadband speeds?

With cable broadband or ADSL; the further you are from the “exchange”, the slower speeds you will receive. This usually means that the exchange is placed in urban city environments where it’ll reach the most people. Rural areas are often left with little to no broadband speeds due to the distance the cable must travel and the congestion the exchange faces from the urban population. Most cable companies do not believe it is worth the investment to build another exchange in rural areas.

First Steps

One of the first steps to speeding up your internet is to know what speed your broadband package is supposed to be, then you need to test the actual speed you’re currently receiving. You can find out what speed you’re getting by heading over to the Which? Broadband Speed Checker tool.

To get a true download speed, you’ll need to run the test a few times throughout the day, especially around peak hours, which are typically 7pm – 11pm. Remember to run tests on a weekday and the weekend, there are normally more people online on a weekend.

Check your download allowance

Some broadband packages can limit, or ‘cap’ your broadband speed. This typically occurs when you exceed the limits of your monthly usage allowance and instead of providers charging you, they now tend to limit your broadband speed instead. You’ll normally be contacted by your provider, either by an automated email, text or call depending on how you’ve setup your contact details.

What can you do to speed up your internet?

There are a number of things you can try before you ring your internet service provider, these range from cleaning up your computer, to making sure it’s placed in a good location.

Computer

  • Disable unnecessary start-up programs

    Some programs when installed start-up by default when you turn your computer on and can cause your computer to slow down, or suck up bandwidth when they try to update or upload data.

    Just press “CTRL + ALT + Delete”, expand the ‘’More Details’’ box and click the “Startup” tab. From here you can scroll through all the programs that start on start-up. Now, highlight a row and you’re able to disable a program. Please only disable programs you recognise!

  • Appliances running in the background

    It’s common to have a number of applications running in the background on your computer, but some of these will be quietly using your internet connection for tasks such as installing updates or uploading data (think Dropbox).

    When an application is installed it will often be added to the start-up scheduler, which automatically opens an application when a computer is turned on. This can slow down the boot up process of your computer and open unnecessary applications that are silently using up precious bandwidth for example the BBC iPlayer download version.

  • Anti-virus software is up to date

    Another issue that can affect broadband speed is viruses, adware, trojans and worms. These are malicious programs built to be virtually invisible to the average person which can slow your computer down so considerably that it appears as though your internet is slow.

  • Secure Wi-Fi?

    If you’re connecting to your internet wirelessly then make sure it’s password protected and that no one else is using your internet for their own use. It’s always a good idea to change the default Wi-Fi password that comes by default with your router and from then on make sure you regularly change your password.

    If you don’t use your wireless connection and only use a wired connection, then you might want to consider turning off the wireless network.

Hardware and External options

  • Move your router

    Wi-Fi routers can create dark spots, where parts of your house have poorer reception depending on the floor plan. The router sends out a complex electromagnetic signal that repeats in a pattern and bounces around the rooms of your home.

    If you frequently find that a specific device is getting consistently poor signal, you can adjust the position of your router. This will cause the signal to repeat in a different pattern, shifting the dark spots.

  • Internet connected devices

    It’s not just computers that use your internet connection, mobile phones, games consoles, smart TVs, tablets and Sky HD all use your broadband connection to download updates, data or new content.

    If you have a large number of devices connected constantly then it’s likely that they’re affecting the speed of your broadband. Try disconnecting the devices you’re not using to see if that has any impact on your connection speed.

    If you log into your router (the details will be on the back of it), you can generally see a list of connected devices. If you see an oddly high number of devices then change your password and disconnect the suspicious devices.

  • Sockets and wiring

    A number of things can affect internet connection speeds, but one major issue can be down to poor quality wireless networks which can happen when interior walls are too thick, or made from certain materials that can block wireless signals. A wired connection using an ethernet cable connecting your telephone socket to your computer can avoid these issues and is typically faster than wireless connections.

    If you find that the old wiring in your building or house is inadequate for a decent wired connection, you can consider using a powerline adapter. Powerline adapters plug into an electrical socket and can create an alternative wired solution to bypass old wiring. The adapter plugs into an electrical socket near the router, the router connects to the powerline adapter and a 2nd powerline adapter is placed where needed.

  • Upgrade your router and/or broadband package

    If you your router is old, cheap or just the initial router provided with your package, consider replacing it with a newer high-quality router. Newer routers take advantage of new technology, are more powerful and provide a larger signal output, leading to improvements in speed and reliability.

    Upgrading your internet package is particularly relevant to people who have had their connection a long time and may still be on deals with a capped speed, possibly at a speed below what their connection can support.


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