Why is my internet slow?

Why is my internet slow?

Every internet package in the UK comes with an estimated average speed and a guaranteed minimum speed. Your home connection should be around the average speed most of the time, and shouldn't dip below the minimum guaranteed speed at all. If your internet speeds are too low, there are some solutions you can try at home that might be able to resolve the problem. Otherwise, you can go to your internet provider to ask them to fix the issue or let you out of your contract. Before you can leave your contract, you'll be asked to provide evidence of your low speeds. 

Testing your speed

If you think that there's a problem with your internet speed, the first thing you'll need to do is test the actual speed you're receiving to your router. Disconnect every device from your network except one, ideally a PC or laptop, and connect this to your router with an ethernet cable. You can then accurately measure the download speed you're receiving. While there are hundreds of broadband speed testers available, most internet companies will require you to measure low speeds through their own speed checker. This is usually found in the 'My account' or 'My broadband' section of their website. 

Reporting the problem to your provider

Once you've measured low speeds, you can contact your supplier directly through your account on their website or by phone to get help. The assistance your provider is obliged to offer depends on if they have opted into Ofcom's Broadband Voluntary Code of Practice. If they have, then you have the right to exit your contract without penalty if speeds drop below the guaranteed level and this isn’t fixed within 30 days. 

Suppliers that have signed up to Ofcom's Code of Conduct include BT, EE, PlusNet, TalkTalk, Utility Warehouse, Virgin Media and Zen Broadband. Sky broadband, the largest supplier that has not signed up for the code, has its own policy instead. Sky will refund you for your full month's broadband service if you measure low speeds for three days or more, which you can claim up to twice during your contract. If it's within the first 30 days of your contract they'll also refund you your set-up fee, and you can also cancel early with no termination costs if you are within your minimum term. 

Improving your internet speed

If your speed is not below the minimum when tested, but you are still having problems with your browsing speed, there are a few things you can do at home to improve your speeds. 

First, consider opting for a faster internet package. If you have the infrastructure available, you might benefit from upgrading your internet package to a higher speed. 

Your internet speed and signal strength will decrease the further from your router you are. Try and position your router in the middle of your home, close to or in the room where you are accessing the internet most often. Connecting your devices directly to your router via an ethernet cable will minimise any loss to signal strength and speed. 

Devices on the same network will split the available internet speed between them, so turn off any internet-connected devices when you're not using them to reduce the strain on your network. 

Alternative internet connections

If you've opted for the fastest speeds your infrastructure will allow and you're still having speed problems, you may need to look outside traditional broadband networks. In properties where high-speed fibre optic is not available, the fastest connection can be through mobile internet. 4G and 5G routers use a SIM card to connect to mobile internet networks, and then generate a wi-fi network in your home. In everyday use these routers act exactly like traditional broadband, but there's no requirement to be physically connected to any network. 

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