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Broadband Speed Test

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What is a broadband speed test?

Our broadband speed test is a free and simple service that will tell you what your current download and upload speeds are, to the nearest 0.01Mbps. No matter what type of connection you are using to access the internet, whether it’s fibre optic, ADSL, or even mobile internet, our speed test will accurately measure the speeds you’re actually receiving in real time.

It can be a helpful tool when you’re comparing broadband deals. But by using our speed test, you can easily compare the speeds on offer to what you’ve currently got.

How does the broadband speed test work?

Our broadband speed test works by sending small packets of data, also known as ‘pings’, from our server to your device and back again. Your actual download and upload speeds are worked out by simply measuring the time it takes for the data to be sent and received.

How is broadband speed measured?

Both your download and upload speeds are measured in megabits per second (Mbps). This is the number of megabits (units of data) that can be transferred from a server to your device per second. You should note that megabits are different to megabytes, which are often referred to when talking about file sizes. For more information, read our guide on the difference between a bit and a byte.

Why should I test my broadband speed?

Testing your broadband speed with usave is completely free and takes just a matter of seconds, but the results could be used for a number of things, including:

  • To make sure you’re getting what your provider promised you.
  • To use as evidence that your connection is too slow should you complain to Ofcom.
  • To compare your connection to other broadband deals available in your area.
  • To see if you get faster speeds at certain times of day.

How do I know if my speed test results are accurate?

We try to make our speed test as accurate as possible, but there are some external factors beyond our control that could skew your results. This includes the time of day you’re conducting the test, as well as the distance your device is from your WiFi router.

To get the most accurate results when running a speed test with usave, try the following:

Make sure nobody else in your household is online:

When multiple people are using the same internet connection at once, the bandwidth will be shared between them, meaning the more people are online at any one time, the lower speeds each user will receive. When running a speed test, make sure no-one else if using the internet at the same time, especially if they’re doing data-intensive tasks such as streaming or gaming.

Switch off any connected devices in your home:

The average household in the UK has multiple devices connected to their WiFi at any one time. This includes any computers, laptops, mobile phones, tablets, game consoles, smart TVs, smart meters, and even sometimes your fridge. Even when they’re not actively being used, they could be transferring data quietly in the background, taking bandwidth away from your device. When running a speed test, disconnect as many of your devices as possible.

Make sure your device is running smoothly:

Whichever device you’re using to test your broadband speed, whether it’s your computer, iPad, or mobile phone, make sure it’s running as smoothly as possible. This means closing down any background apps or tabs you may have open, and pausing or finishing any downloads or uploads. Even apps like Microsoft Word, which don’t necessarily need an internet connection, can use up processing power and generally slow down your device, which will in turn affect your broadband speed test.

Move closer to your router:

Broadband lines will typically connect to your router, which will then connect to your devices by emitting a WiFi signal. And while router technology is steadily improving and signals become stronger, most internet users will have a fairly basic machine. Therefore, it’s important to be as close as possible to your router to run an accurate speed test; the further you are away from it, the weaker the signal will be, and thus the slower your connection. Even better if you can, connect your device to the router with an Ethernet cable.

Run multiple tests:

A single broadband speed test will show you a snapshot of your download and upload speeds at that particular time only, but the time of day you run the test is important. For example, speeds will typically slow down in residential areas in the evening once everyone is home from work, as you’re all sharing the bandwidth coming from a particular streetside cabinet. Alternatively, if you live in a more commercial area, you may find that your connection is slower during the day as you’re competing with a lot of office space. Poor weather conditions can also affect your connection. Running a broadband speed test multiple times, at different times of the day, will give you a more accurate picture of your average broadband speeds.

Why is my broadband speed slower than advertised?

Broadband speeds fluctuate based on a variety of factors including bandwidth and line congestion, or the signal strength of your WiFi router. Therefore, the speed test may reveal that you’re receiving different download/upload speeds at certain times of the day. So, if your initial speed test shows that you’re not getting what you expect, we recommend you try again at a different time of day before trying to resolve any issues.

If you’ve run the speed test multiple times and you’re consistently getting lower speeds than were advertised to you, it’s possible there’s a problem with your connection. You should first try to diagnose the issue yourself, and if you can’t resolve it, then get in tough with your internet service provider if the issue persists.

If you’re getting speeds only slightly lower than you should, for example you’re getting 33Mbps on a 36Mbps connection, this could be due to your geographical location may not be able to be resolved. Thanks to guidelines introduced by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) in 2012, broadband providers must advertise their average download speeds. This means some customers will get slightly less than advertised, and some will get slightly more, although the differences should be marginal.

If, however, you’re getting significantly lower speeds than advertised, for example 10Mbps lower or more, then you have a right to complain to the industry regulator Ofcom. By submitting a complaint and demonstrating that your actual download speeds aren’t what you were told they would be, you have the right to switch broadband providers without incurring any early exit fees.

Before submitting a complaint, however, you should see if there are any steps you can take to improve your internet connection. For more advice, check out our guide: why is my internet so slow?

What is a good internet speed test result?

This depends on the type of internet connection you’re on and what sort of speeds you should be receiving based on when you signed up for the contract. Your speed test results should be consistent with what was advertised, give and take a few Mbps.

If you’ve run a broadband speed test and it’s showing that your actual speeds are similar to what you should expect, but you’re still unhappy with the speed of your connection, it may be time to switch providers. Compare broadband packages in your area with usave to see what sort of speeds are available. You don’t have to break the bank and get the fastest broadband in your area; a simple upgrade on what you’ve currently got is always nice.

Here’s a helpful chart to give you an idea of what kind of speeds might for you:

File type Size (MB) 4Mbps 8Mbps 16Mbps 32Mbps 50Mbps 100Mbps
Single song 5 10s 5s 2.5s 1.25s 0.8s 0.4s
YouTube clip 10 20s 10s 5s 2.5s 1.6s 0.8s
YouTube clip (HD) 50 1m 40s 50s 25s 12.5s 8s 4s
Album 100 3m 20s 1m 40s 50s 25s 16s 8s
TV Show (HD) 450 15m 7m 30s 3m 45s 1m 52s 1m 12s 36s
Film 700 23m 20s 11m 40s 5m 50s 2m 55s 1m 52s 56s
Film (HD) 1500 50m 25m 30s 12m 30s 6m 15s 4m 2m
Film (full DVD) 4500 2h 30m 1h 15m 37m 30s 18m 45s 9m 22s 4m 41s
Film (Blu-ray) 10,000 5h 35m 2h 47m 1h 24m 42m 26m 40s 13m 20s

For more information, check out our guide: what broadband speed do I need?

Michael Quinn

Author: Michael Quinn

Michael is a dedicated author helping usave to write guides, blogs and news for the last four years. When not writing articles, you can usually find him at wine tasting events or having a political debate on the night tube.

Guides on broadband speeds

Read our guides to find out more about the kind of speeds you need, and what to do if you're not getting them

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