How Can I Improve My Broadband Speed?

July 29th, 2022
How Can I Improve My Broadband Speed?

There are few things more frustrating than a sluggish broadband speed. Whether it’s your business internet connection that is running slowly and hindering your everyday operations, or you are struggling to watch streaming TV services or play online games at home due to poor broadband performance, it’s certainly far from the ideal situation.

Luckily, there are a number of ways in which you can boost the speed of your home or business internet. So if you’ve been searching "how to improve my internet speed", read on to discover our tips and strategies on how to achieve this.

Average Broadband Speeds In The UK

Because most people spend more time downloading files and data, rather than uploading them, it tends to be download speeds that are most important to users. And, the higher the rate of Mbps, the faster your broadband connection is. An internet connection at a rate of just 10 Mbps is actually sufficient for homes where just one or two people will be using it to simply browse the web. However, thanks largely to the work being done to upgrade the UK’s internet infrastructure, a recent study by Ofcom found that across the UK, average download speeds were faster than 50 Mbps [1].

Broadband is classified according to its speed, with the slowest, known as Standard Broadband, delivering speeds at an average of around 10-11 Mbps. The next level is Superfast Broadband, which provides speeds ranging from 30-300 Mbps. Faster still is Ultra Fast Broadband, which delivers speeds from 300 Mbps up to 1 Gbps and above.

However, most households simply won’t need to be accessing Ultra Fast speeds, or even achieving the higher part of the Superfast range. Broadband speeds of around 30-50 Mbps [2] are generally more than sufficient for families with multiple internet users. Those in households where one or more person works remotely, or enjoys online gaming, may, however, be better served by a broadband service that can deliver speeds of 60 Mbps and above. Understanding this is key to how to improve internet speed.

Different Providers Deliver Different Speeds

When it comes to choosing a new broadband provider, it’s important to note that not all companies will be able to deliver the same speeds. This can be due to factors such as where you live (those in remote locations will be less likely to be able to access the faster, fibre optic cable network, and will likely be situated further from network junction points. They may even be forced to rely on a mobile internet connection).

Right now, there are both established and challenger broadband providers offering Ultra Fast broadband, with the top speeds reaching or even exceeding 1 Gbps. The most widely available Ultra Fast broadband service is currently offered by Virgin Media, whose average download speed is an incredible 1.13 Gbps [3].

It’s also important to note that the speeds cited online by the different providers are all average speeds, and the speed available to you may not be as fast.

Factors That Can Affect Broadband Speeds

When it comes to knowing how to improve internet speeds, there are a few factors to consider. As well as the region in the UK where you live or work (for example, major cities are better served by fast connections), there are several other factors that can have a big impact on the speed of your broadband connection. If your home or business is located further away from the network cabinet in the street, you will find that your internet connection is slower as a result. Without moving house or business premises, these factors are out of your control, but, luckily, there are actions that you can take with ease.

Within your home, the place where you keep the router will play a key role, as well as the way in which you and your family use the internet and the condition of your connected devices, such as computers. Try the following steps to trouble-shoot your current broadband set up, and improve your internet connection in the process.

How To Improve Your Internet Speed:

Step One- Check Your Deal

There are a number of measures that you can take in order to improve the quality of your internet service. The first thing to do is to check whether your current internet package is suitable for the amount of usage your household or business actually requires. It’s also worth checking that your broadband provider is keeping up their end of the deal: many UK providers have agreed to the Broadband Speeds Code Of Practice [4]. Furthermore, since March 2020, the industry regulator OfCom has given UK residents the right to request an affordable but decent broadband service.

Whilst it’s naturally tempting to opt for the cheapest package available, these lower prices come with slower broadband speeds, too. The cheapest internet prices are also intended for use in homes with perhaps only one or two residents who use the internet for browsing and social media purposes, which means that these deals simply won’t be able to deliver a decent level of performance for larger families. If members of your household like to watch streaming services such as Netflix or Disney+, or enjoy online gaming, then you’ll need to make sure that you are on a contract that provides superfast broadband at a minimum. If you want to enjoy superfast or even ultra fast broadband, you will find that you need to spend considerably more.

Another smart move is to find out just how fast (or just how slow) your internet actually is. You’ll often find a free tool to establish your internet connection speed on your provider’s website, typically labelled "test my internet speed" or similar. Clicking on such a tool is a safe and simple way to get a good idea of the kind of broadband speed that you are receiving right now. For the best and most accurate results, carry out your broadband test speed enquiry on a device connected to the internet via an Ethernet port.

Step Two- Location And Connection Matters

If you are satisfied that you are signed up to the best broadband package for your needs, the next step is to look at where your router is located. Your router, also known by names such as the BT Home Hub, is the essential device that takes the internet from the national network, and makes it available around your home. The ideal spot for your router is somewhere that offers a clear path to as many of the wirelessly connected devices as possible, such as laptops, tablets, TVs and more. This means avoiding blocking your router off behind thick walls, or hiding it away in a cupboard or behind ornaments or photo frames. Try to place it higher up, too, rather than low down.

It’s also essential to keep your router away from other electronic devices that could potentially create signal interference and therefore slow down your broadband speed. Common household devices such as baby monitors, cordless telephones, TVs and stereos (and even dimmer switches) can hamper your internet performance.

Many people stick with the free router provided with their broadband package, but if you are tech savvy, it can be better to buy your own. This approach can give you better network coverage, and faster broadband speeds, along with the ability to prioritise certain devices’ access to WiFi, ensuring that your streamed TV show or online game doesn’t get interrupted, even when the whole family is online. However, care must be taken to ensure that such a router is administered securely, and always check with your network provider before splashing out.

A safer- and cheaper- option is to opt for a device that can deliver a WiFi boost. A WiFi Network Extender connects to your router and extends the strength and speed of the internet, so that corners of your home that suffer poor performance can enjoy an experience on a level with the rest of your property.

Finally, whilst WiFi connectivity is essential for some devices around the home (especially smart IoT equipment), using a wired connection to the router where possible will boost your internet speeds straight away. Opting for an Ethernet cable connection where possible speeds up download and uploading times as the data will not need to be encrypted for transmission, as is the case with wireless connections.

Step Three- Create Smart Habits

On a day to day basis, making a few simple changes can also improve your internet speeds, so are well worth making into a habit. Think about when you are planning on using the internet, and turning off those devices that aren’t required at any one time can offer a WiFi boost. This means switching off your laptop if you plan to stream a movie, or turning off your smartphone when you’re working on your computer. For work conferences, turn off the video function and stick to audio calling only, and try to schedule broadband-heavy online activities for the least busy times of day. Indeed, simply using a microwave can interfere with WiFi signals and so slow down your broadband, so don’t heat up your dinner when someone else is at a critical point in their online game!

Having a look at your computer or laptop is also a good way to identify factors that could be slowing your broadband. Making sure that you are using the latest version of your browser will help to speed things up, as will clearing your "cache" of cookies, that inevitably slow down your internet performance as they build up. It’s also smart to stop any apps such as DropBox or Spotify from automatically running in the background- instead, close them right down when not in use. Make sure firewalls and anti-virus software is properly installed, and up to date, as malware such as viruses could gain access to your device and use your internet connection to send information back to cyber criminals. Such malware can use a lot of bandwidth, slowing down your connection as a result. Staying on top of your security protocols and running regular scans to check for any suspicious activity is a very important internet habit to get into.

Simply making your home or workplace internet private can also help to improve broadband speeds (as well as helping to create a more secure online environment for your household or business). If your network is "open", it means that anyone in the vicinity with a WiFi enabled device can use your internet connection, thereby adding to the pressure on your network and slowing down your internet speeds and performance.

The Future Looks Faster

The good news (especially for those living in remote areas of the UK) is that we will all be able to access superfast broadband speeds at home or at work, before too long. The UK government is in the process of upgrading the infrastructure that delivers the internet across the country, replacing outdated copper cabling with fibre optic cabling that enables the fastest internet speeds.

So, if you’ve been asking yourself "how can I improve my internet speed?", you will hopefully now feel better equipped to tackle the problem and get ready to start enjoying faster broadband speeds and performance soon. Whether you want to simply boost WiFi coverage or overhaul your whole home set-up, it’s clear that there are plenty of good options for improving your broadband speed.

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