Nowadays we expect faster internet speed and it can be a pain when you are having trouble with slow broadband. You may be wondering how broadband works and how you can improve the speed of your broadband. This useful guide explains what broadband speed you need for your home and should help you to understand how broadband speeds work.
What is broadband speed?
When you are deciding between broadband deals, speed is one of the most important things to consider, along with price. Broadband speed is simply how quickly you can upload or download data using your internet connection. On average, people are more likely to be downloading than uploading so download speeds are generally faster than upload speeds.
Broadband speeds are normally measured in megabits per second (Mbps). One Mbps is 1,000,000 bits per second. The higher the number of Mbps, the faster your broadband speed is.
What broadband speed do I need?
Many consumers don’t know what their broadband speed is, or they are not sure what broadband speed they need for their home.
To work out a suitable broadband speed for your household you need to think about how much you use the internet and what you are using the internet for. It is also important to consider how many people are using the internet in your home, and how many devices will be connected to the internet at one time. A family of four could have more than ten devices connected to the internet for example.
You can decide what speed you need by working out whether your home is a light, medium or heavy user or the internet. Here is a rough guide to what speed each user may require:
Light – standard 10-11Mbps broadband:
- 1/2 users
- 5 devices or less
- Mainly using the internet for web browsing, social media and emails
- Occasional voice or video chat
- Occasional audio or video streaming
Medium – 30Mbps+ fibre optic broadband:
- 1-4 users
- Up to 10 devices
- Constant web browsing, social media and email
- Frequent voice or video chat
- Frequent audio or video streaming
Heavy – 100Mbps+ fibre optic broadband:
- 5+ users
- More than 10 devices
- Constant web browsing, social media and email
- Daily video or voice chat
- Daily audio or video streaming
- Frequent gaming
- Frequent large file uploads or downloads
The best advice is to get the fastest possible broadband speed for the cheapest possible deal. Most households don’t need more than 100Mbps broadband speed, unless they are constantly doing big file transfers or need a good connection for gaming. A good internet speed is any speed that is 10Mbps or more.
How fast is my broadband speed?
When you are comparing broadband
deals, it should state the broadband speed you will be getting with the deal. Many broadband providers will also inform you of a guaranteed minimum broadband speed that will be included in the contract.
If you feel like you are not getting your desired broadband speed, then there are various broadband speed tests available online that you can access free of charge that will accurately provide you with your download and upload speeds with a simple test. It is a good idea to regularly check your broadband speed to make sure you are getting the speed that you paid for.
Do I need fibre optic broadband?
Standard broadband speeds are often fine for homes that aren’t using the internet frequently or for any kind of streaming or gaming. A standard broadband will be around 10Mbps. Fibre optic broadband provides you with a far quicker connection and is becoming increasingly common in many UK homes. Use our rough guide above to determine whether you need to make the upgrade to fibre optic broadband. Fibre optic broadband is not available across the UK, so when you compare broadband
deals make sure you enter your postcode so that you are seeing the deals available to you in your area.
What affects broadband speed?
There are many things that affect broadband speed. Here are the potential reasons that your broadband may not be as fast as you were expecting:
- Other electrical devices: A lot of modern technology emits wireless signals that can jumble and interfere with your broadband signal. Make sure your router is away from all electronic devices.
- Number of connections: The more devices you have connected to the internet, the slower your speeds will be. Switch off devices you are not using or consider upgrading your broadband speed to accommodate all of your devices.
- Type of connection: If you have a standard ADSL connection, they may be less reliable and slower than fibre optic connections.
- Wireless security: Make sure you have a password on your broadband router. If you do not then anyone can use your Wi-Fi and there may be extra devices connected, slowing down your connection.
- Placement of router: The placement of your broadband router is important if you are using Wi-Fi connection. Make sure it is above the floor and in the most central area of the house. Wireless signal cannot travel through too many walls so consider getting wireless boosters if the signal is not reaching parts of your home.
- Weather conditions: Although the weather often doesn’t affect broadband speeds, big storms or extremely cold weather can affect phone lines and underground cables.
- Time of day: Broadband speeds can be slower during peak internet times, for example, weekends and weeknights.
What to Do If You’re Unhappy with Your Broadband Speed
If you’re unhappy with your broadband speed, then you can take action to improve it. You may feel that you have paid for faster broadband speeds but still be getting bad internet at certain times. If you think that your broadband is too slow then here are the steps that you should take:
- Check your broadband speed with a broadband speed test, these are generally available on the internet and your broadband provider will also usually have one available on their website or mobile apps.
- If you discover your broadband speeds are slow then next you should check your contract to find out what the minimum speeds stated are.
- If you’re still unhappy you can contact your provider to see if they can help improve your internet speed.
Once you have followed this step-by-step process and you still aren’t satisfied, you may have grounds to complain or cancel your contract. Follow the standard complaints procedure and if nothing improves then you have the right to cancel your contract without a penalty and switch provider.