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The ‘speed’ of your broadband connection is determined by how quickly you can download a set amount of data in the period of one second. Consequently, you’ll find broadband speeds are referred to as Megabits per second (or MB/s). For really fast connections, you may find these are measured in Gigabits per second (or GB/s).
For example, a 5 MB/s broadband connection is slower than a 50 MB/s connection, while a 1 GB/s is roughly four times faster than a 250 MB/s connection.
Broadband speed is not only dependent on your provider but the type of physical connection in your area. For example, urban areas with modern fibreoptic cables are often able to take advantage of faster broadband speeds, while rural areas, which may still have old coaxial cable or copper wire, will be limited as to the broadband speeds they can attain.
Generally, the faster your internet connection, the more a monthly deal will cost.
Our simple beginner’s guide to broadband will bring you up to speed with a pleasing lack of confusing technobabble.
Basically, if you’ve purchased a deal that promises 60 MB/s, then you are quite entitled to expect that this is broadly what you will get. Think of it along the lines of buying a car that you expect to go at 60 mph but actually won’t get over 30 mph most of the time – you’d soon be back at the car dealership demanding a refund! It’s much the same with your broadband speed.
While certain factors can affect how fast your broadband speed operates over a day or a week, you have a right to broadly expect it to operate at the speeds you’ve been promised (and are paying for).
As mentioned above, your broadband speed is greatly influenced by the physical network to your home and surrounding area. Modern fibreoptic cables are capable of carrying far more data than the older, copper wire-based networks, which were commonly used for phones in the old network.
However, the good news is that all broadband providers know what the maximum speed they can provide is for your area, so you shouldn’t be able to buy a 500 MB/s broadband package if the fastest your area is able to get is 10 MB/s!
Your broadband may also be slow during periods of high demand. At times when there are a lot more people online than usual, providers may ‘throttle-back’ your speed to enable more people to use the network. However, where your provider has a guaranteed minimum speed, it should not fall below this.
By the same token, if there are a lot of people in your home all attempting to use the internet, this can slow down your broadband speed. Make sure everyone apart from you is disconnected from the internet (and Wi-Fi) before you test your speed.
Checking your broadband speed is easy. The majority of providers will actually offer a facility to do this on their own broadband home page or in your account section. Alternatively, just typing ‘Broadband speed check’ into any search engine will bring up a host of free websites offering just this kind of service.
If you have a smartphone, then there’s a large number of broadband speed check apps you can download too.
In the first instance, get in touch with your broadband provider via its normal customer service channels.
As outlined above, there can be a number of reasons why your broadband is slow on a particular day or time. So, it’s a good idea to check your speed on a few differing days and times to get a good idea of when the problem occurs.
Be prepared for a lengthy call too – in many instances, broadband providers will ask you to carry out a number of potential fixes that can improve your speed (such as rebooting your router). If your speed is still not up to scratch, then your broadband provider can send an engineer to check your set-up or your connection elsewhere in the network to ascertain if something else is hindering your internet speed.
If your broadband provider is unable to solve your issue, then you can make a complaint using the normal procedures. These can easily be found on its website or if you give the provider a call.
Physical factors, including where in your home router is positioned, can have a real effect on the quality and strength of the signal you will get from your Wi-Fi. Moving your router to a more central location in your home can remedy Wi-Fi blackspots.
Disclaimer: This information is intended solely to provide guidance and is not financial advice. Moneyfacts will not be liable for any loss arising from your use or reliance on this information. If you are in any doubt, Moneyfacts recommends you obtain independent financial advice.