Understanding Broadband speeds

We often experience slow broadband speeds at times. The drop in speeds can result in poor over-all performance of a broadband connection.Slow speeds can be frustrating as even the simple online things such as web browsing and email checking may take longer to complete. Plus, some applications like VoIP (making phone call over internet) and multi -player online gaming actually need decent to very fast speeds for better performance.

Broadband providers often hardsell their packages by highlighting the speeds they come with. As a consumer, you would be dissatisfied or unhappy when you find the service that you have chosen often fails to deliver what it has promised, mainly the speeds.

why a broadband connection becomes slower?

1.If you are using ADSL broadband i.e., via landline (i.e., BT phone line), the distance between your house and the local exchange is the crucial factor that will determine what speeds you are likely achieve on your line. Say, if you are near to exchange, you can hope to get speeds closer to the advertised speeds (8Mbps or 24Mbps whatever the ISP has advertised).

This means the distance degrades broadband data signals while they travel all the way from the exchange to your router/modem via socket and street cabinet.

It is a good idea that you ask your service provider to give you a rough estimate of the speed you are likely to get, before you sign up.

2. Some speed problems can be due to line quality and the hardware like router/modem that you use. Faulty and messy wiring and poor quality equipment can reduce the speeds or even cause disconnection, if you don’t attend to this issue. Check the wiring and make the cable that connects the PC and modem or other equipments as short as possible. When it comes to router, make sure that it is of the best quality and configure it properly to right settings to help you to achieve the best speed.

If needed, get expert help from your provider.

3. Faulty telephone line (landline) and line noise is another major source of speed issue. You will need to contact the technical support and ask them to fix the issue.

If you access internet via wireless router (wi-fi), the speeds can be up to 30% slower, compared to wired ethernet connection. Wi-fi depends on the places where you use and is often degraded by factors like thick walls and electronic interference caused by other electrical devices like microoven etc.

4. Number of users sharing the line at a particular time. During peak hours, when more number of users will be online, it could be possible that your speeds may drop.

5. Home broadband lines often become congested during peak hours due to poor contention ratio such as 50:1 means the line could be saturated with maximum fifty users that its capacity can allow.

6.Sometimes, your browser settings and number of applications you run simultaneously, can also affect connection speeds. Online virus protection can also make your system as well as the internet access slower by draining the system resources.

How to optimise your broadband to get top speeds?

  • Test your broadband speeds. Use speedchecker to find out what speeds you are currently receiving. Compare that with the maximum speeds that you are supposed to get (say 8Mb/10Mb or 24Mb)
  • Check the internal wiring, specifically, find out how the router, socket and PC are inter connected. Use shortest cable and make sure it does not look messy when you complete the installation of your connection.
  • Make sure that the modem or wireless router is advanced, latest and configured to the best settings to provide faster and stable connection. If you suspect the router device is the source of your trouble, do not hesitate to call the technical support to test the equipment.
  • See that your PC or laptop is decently fast enough to meet the processing needs when you access applications like online games or streaming video sites like BBC iPlayer.
  • Check the operating system and internet browser that they are updated to the latest versions, as this will speed up the connection as well as ensure your internet security from malware and spyware.
  • If you are using virus and anti-spyware software, check that their settings do not cause slow down. Sometimes, virus programs can often make automatic updates or scanning which you may not be aware, but could result in general slow down in the system.
  • Optimise wireless internet setup by moving the PC closer to router or additionally using aerials and antennas, if needed. Make sure that wi-fi signals are not interfered or blocked, by moving the devices to better places where you can get strong signals.
  • Other practical tip: Do not make excess download of large files or watch streaming videos during peak hours. This will invariably affect broadband performance on the line. Some ISPs also restrict peer to peer sites access & traffic as a part of their traffic management.
  • Optimise your PC Close unwanted applications that run behind. This will improve your system speed resulting in better allocation of resources to your online activities.
  • Finally, you can also consider switching to another broadband provider which you think, is reputed for faster speeds. Again it needs a bit of research and comparison of all internet providers before you choose the right service for you