The most popular question we get asked here at Global Net is ‘How do I speed up my broadband connection?’
So to help answer this we’ve compiled a list of things to check. We’ve also included a few tips at the end for improving your wireless network speeds in case this is the cause of your problems. Good luck with getting the most out of your broadband!
1: Understand what your maximum speed is
Standard broadband over telephone lines degrades in speed the further the line is from the telephone exchange (in cabling length). While most deals are advertised as ‘up to 8Mb’, most telephone lines will be rated to achieve slower connection speeds. Run a broadband speed test on your line using your postcode. Ensure that the speed you’re told to expect is actually higher than the speeds you’re experiencing – it may be that you’re already achieving the fastest speed your line can expect.
2: Know the difference between bits and bytes
Make sure you’re not confusing bits with bytes – Most broadband deals and speed tests are listed in terms of megabits or kilobits per second (Mbps or Kbps) while the progress speeds listed for most downloads are given as megabytes or kilobytes per second (MB/s or KB/s) there are 8 bits in 1 byte and a kilobit is 1000 bits while a kilobyte is 1024 bytes, so there is a significant difference in speeds listed in KB/s compared to Kbps – for example a line testing at 5Mbps download speed should expect to see maximum file download speeds of about 550-650KB/s or 0.6MB/s.
3: Don’t use telephone extension cables
Don’t connect your modem/router using an extension cable. Poor quality extension cables are probably the number one cause of poor broadband speeds. Extension cables can massively increase interference on your line and cause broadband speeds to be lowered. The simplest way to solve the problem is to ditch the extension cable and connect the router directly to the phone socket and then use a long Ethernet cable to connect your computer to the router (these can be purchased in any computer store and cost around $2 per foot), ethernet cables will not degrade the speed of your connection.
4: If you have to use an extension cable
If you have to use an extension cable, use a new, high quality cable and ensure you use the shortest cable possible – tangled and coiled extension cables can cause interference. You can easily test if your extension cable is the problem – connect directly to the data jack, if this causes no improvement in connection speed, it’s unlikely that the extension cable was the problem (however we recommend performing all tests below without extension cables/routers or wireless devices plugged in).
5: Check for applications running in the background
Many applications run in the background on your computer and some of these will be quietly using your broadband connection for tasks such as installing updates or uploading data. Make sure that all unnecessary applications are shut down to prevent this. If this makes a difference, then add back each application until you identify which one is affecting your download speed. Having large numbers of browser windows or tabs open may also have an effect on your download speeds – try running the speed test with all other web pages closed, does this make a difference to speed?
6: Make sure your anti-virus software is up to date
Having up to date and operational anti-virus software is crucial as viruses, trojans and worms can use your broadband connection which can make your speeds seem to slow. Viruses and adware can also cause your computer to slow considerably which can make your broadband seem slow.
7: Password protect your wireless network
If your router works wirelessly, password protect your wireless network. Make sure that no one is hitching a free ride on your connection and taking up bandwidth which will reduce the speed you see, password protect and encrypt your wireless network to keep unwanted bandwidth hogs away. If you don’t need to use your router’s wireless network, consider turning it off completely (using your router’s configuration interface).
8: Get a good quality router
If you are using a cheap modem or router, consider replacing with a newer higher quality router. A cheap radio gives a poorer sound reproduction than a quality radio, in the same manner a cheap router can sometimes be the cause of a poor broadband experience. Investing in a higher quality router can lead to improvements in speed and reliability, especially on poor quality telephone lines. If you’re not sure, look online for user reviews of your make and model of modem or router – if there are problems it’s likely that reviews will show this.
9: Check for electrical interference
Electrical equipment can cause interference. Electrical equipment can cause real problems for your connection, anything with a motor or pump can particularly be an issue. Try turning off electrical devices to see if they are interfering. If possible keep your router/modem away from other electrical equipment. We have seen that faulty fluorescent lighting and even Christmas tree lights can drastically reduce broadband speeds in some cases. Experiment with turning off devices.
10: Speak to US
It’s always worth calling us to see if your speed can be increased, this is particularly relevant for people who have had their connection for a long time and may still be on deals capped at a speed below that which your line can support.
Improving speeds over wireless access
Quite often people blame their broadband provider for poor connection speeds when actually the problem is a poor quality wireless network causing the issues. Here are our top tips for improving your wireless network speeds.
1: Use a wired connection instead
Connecting to your router via a wired connection rather than wireless can improve your speeds. Wireless networks can be subject to interference and are affected by the size and composition of your home. Thick walls on old houses can be a particular problem. A wireless network that has lots of interference can make your broadband connection seem slow. Required security measures, such as encryption, also add an overhead to wireless connections that is not necessary for a wired connection. Connecting using a wired Ethernet (network cable) connection gets round the problem and can improve speeds, but it obviously is less flexible than a wireless connection.
2: Test how much slower your wireless network is
1.If you definitely want to connect via wireless, run speed tests connection directly by network cable and again using the wireless network. If there are significant differences, consider the tests below.
3: Upgrade your wireless equipment
If you are connecting via wireless and are having problems then consider getting a better aerial, using a network extender or upgrading your router and devices to use the newer, more robust ‘N’-rated wireless standard. Upgrading the aerial on your wireless router and if possible on your computer can extend the range and reliability of connection. Another option is to use a wireless network extender; these work by boosting the wireless signal into areas of poor signal. The newer ‘N’-rated wireless standard provides greater range and faster connections, however all your devices will need to support the ‘N’-rated networks in order to see the benefit, although USB adapters and expansion cards are available to upgrade older devices and older ‘G’ and ‘B’-rated devices will still be able to connect at their previous range and speed.
4: Change the channel
If other wireless networks are in range, change your wireless router to use a different channel to avoid interference.