Practical tips for improving your broadband speed

25 January 2019

Lots of things can affect your broadband speeds. Some of these you can’t change (like the length of the connection to your house) but there are things you can do within your own home to get the most out of your broadband connection.

First, check the speed you are receiving. To find out if there’s a problem, you should test the speed on your line. Ofcom has a speed checker you can use - click ‘details’ on the results page to see your upload and download speeds. To get the most accurate results, carry out a few tests over several days and vary the times you carry out the test.

Here are 5 easy steps that can help to improve your broadband connection:

If you have tried the above in-home steps and you still have problems with your speed, contact your provider. Sometimes, your speed problem might be caused by a fault on the network itself, and you should talk to your provider to see if they can do anything about it. If this isn’t the problem or they can’t fix it, they should be able to offer advice and might have other solutions, such as improved equipment or free signal boosters.

Some providers might even give you a discount. If your provider is a signatory to the Better Broadband Speeds Information code and your speed is below the minimum guaranteed download speed you were given at the point of sale, they will have 30 days to improve your speed or allow you to exit your contract penalty free.

If you’ve tried everything to improve your speed, it might simply be that your connection is already running as fast as it can. In this case, the only way to improve it is likely to be by changing service or provider. This is especially the case if your problem is caused by a lot of people using the connection at the same time. The following can help you to decide what type of service to look for:

  • If you are on ‘standard’ ADSL broadband (usually with an advertised speed of about 17Mbit/s) you might benefit from moving to a fibre connection (usually with advertised speeds of 38, 52, or 76Mbit/s). These have a faster connection between the main exchange and your street cabinet, which often means a faster speed at your house.
  • Most of the main providers use the same network, but they all operate slightly differently. This means switching provider could improve your speed or the quality of your connection.
  • Some providers use a different kind of network – the most commonly available alternative is cable (available up to 300Mbit/s, although this is mainly restricted to urban areas), but full fibre (up to 1000Mbit/s) and wireless are also available. Because these use different types of technology, they may avoid the problem that’s causing your slow speed.

If you’re purchasing a new service and need some advice on how to choose a provider, use our guide on choosing a broadband provider.