“Why is my Internet So Slow?”. This is a common question we hear from customers. They pay for a package from their Internet Provider and they expect to be getting what they paid for. Many of us are now using our home broadband much more. In fact during the first lockdown in spring, Virgin Media estimated that the UK’s Internet Usage had more than doubled.
If your Zoom call is fuzzy and hard to hear you will likely need to continue reading.
Check your Package
The first step is identifying the sort of speed you should expect from your supplier. Most of the UK Suppliers openly advertise the speed you should expect to your exact house. This is governed mainly by the capability of the local exchange and the distance between your house and that exchange. When you signed up for your new Internet Service, you will have been told what speed to expect. If you’re not sure check with your supplier.
You will be given a speed rating of Mbps (Megabits Per Second). In the UK there are two main types of Broadband, ADSL and VDSL (often referred to as FTTC or Fibre to the Cabinet). Certain areas of the country can get cable services from companies such as Virgin Media. Others can also receive FTTP (Fibre to the Premises). On average however these lucky people tend not to suffer from poor performance so will unlikely be reading this article!
Perform a Speed Test
If you have a Fibre Package, I would expect the rating to be around either 40Mbps or 80Mbps. Once you know what you should be getting head over to one of the many free speed checkers to find out what you are actually getting.
When performing a speed test we always recommend you connect to your Internet Router with a cable if possible. Of course, some new computers now don’t come with built-in network cards so of course use Wi-Fi. If you can connect with a cable you will get better results and if you are able to test both, you will be able to quickly diagnose the problem.
CyberBITS recommend Speedtest.net. Once you hit GO, the site will download a sample file to your computer and see how long it took. From this information it will calculate your current download speed.
Following a Download Test it will then carry out an Upload Test. Normally on a VDSL (FTTC) type connection we expect the Upload speed to be one quarter of the Download Speed. So for example, a Download Speed of 40Mbps should achieve an Upload Speed of around 10Mbps. You may find slight variations of the speed but on average one quarter is about right.
If you just carried out that speed test directly cabled to your Internet Router, try removing the cable and run the same test on Wi-Fi. Do you get the same result?
Just a quick note on Latency. This is a measurement of how quickly a data packet can reach a destination and get back to your computer. This is sometimes referred to as Round Trip Time. Latency is affected by any number of interconnecting paths to the destination. You will see Latency listed as part of the Speed Test if using the Ookla tool mentioned previously. Latency will ideally read somewhere in the low teens and is measured in milliseconds (ms). If you have a higher latency than 80ms then you may have some other problems going on so keep reading!
How did you get on? What were your test results? If you’re achieving the speed advised by your Internet Provider that’s as good as you’re going to get. If you still feel that it’s not enough and your busy household needs more it’s worth taking a look at the various providers available to you and see what is available in your area.
CyberBITS work with leading communications partners that provide Business Class Broadband services. Business Class Broadband services are connected to a different backbone and are given priority over retail (consumer) services. We won’t be able to improve on the fastest available speed on your line, but it would give you an edge over your neighbours!
Internet is Still Slow?
If you’re still with me it’s because you’re speed test result wasn’t what you expected. Fear not, there is still some troubleshooting we can do to find out what is happening.
First let’s look at that Latency figure from earlier.
From a Windows machine let’s open a Command Prompt Window on your computer to troubleshoot further. Go to Start > Search “CMD” and open Command Prompt.
Type “ipconfig” at the prompt and press enter.
In the output displayed you may see a number of connections depending on your computer. Look for the one you are connected to. For example, if you’re connected on Wifi, look for the section “Wireless LAN adapter – Wifi”, if you’re using a cable, looks for “Ethernet Adapter”. In that section, you will see an entry for “Default Gateway”. It will likely start with 192.168 and end with either 1 or 254. This is the address of your Internet Router or in other words your Internet Gateway.
The next command we will run is called ping. Ping simply sends a sample packet of data to an address you specify. It will then report back if the address you entered is available and how long it took to send and receive the packet.
Enter “Ping 192.168.0.1” and press enter. Of course substitute the address for your own. Different providers use different addresses.
I’m really hoping you get a response similar to the below.
Pinging 192.168.0.1 with 32 bytes of data:
Reply from 192.168.0.1: bytes=32 time=14ms TTL=64
Ping statistics for 192.168.0.1:
Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss),
Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
Minimum = 3ms, Maximum = 14ms, Average = 6ms
We’re interested in the highlighted figure “Average”. This should be in single figures. If it’s much higher than this it means you have an internal problem rather than a provider problem.
How are you connecting to the Internet? Are you using cable to your Internet Router, or Wi-Fi? If you’re using a cable it’s likely the cable is damaged, try swapping it for another one.
If you’re connected using Wi-Fi, do all of your Wi-Fi devices suffer the same problem? Trying using a smartphone with the SpeedTest app installed. If using the same test from your smartphone produces a similar result the problem will be likely the Wi-Fi connection. Try moving closer to your router and perform the same tests again. If you’re still having problems, it is possible that there may be interference from a neighbouring device.
If you live in an apartment for example, you may be suffering from a problem called Wi-Fi Channel Interference. This is when there are too many wireless routers in the same vicinity. This can be identified with specialist software. Most modern routers will automatically choose the correct channel with the least interference. However there are only so many available channels to choose from. Sometimes it may be selecting the best of a bad bunch.
If, by moving closer to the router the connection improves, this is a sign that you are normally sitting in a bit of a black spot. That being the case, try moving the router (if you can) to a different location. I appreciate this isn’t always possible. If not, there are some options open to you.
Signal boosters are small plug-in units that connect to your Wi-Fi. Your devices then connect to the booster and the data is relayed to your Internet Router. You can pick up Signal Boosters from most electrical retailers for around £20-30. Install the booster in an area between where you are located in the house and your Internet Router. Don’t install the booster where you are as it will suffer the same problem as your computer!
Powerlines come in pairs. They are plug-in units. The idea is you install one near your Internet Router and connect it using a cable to your router. You take the other unit to your home office and plug it in to your power socket. Then connect the network cable to your computer. The two units setup a conversation between each other over the copper power cabling in your home.
Powerlines are not always suitable in all homes. It does depend greatly on your cabling and how your home has been wired. If in doubt check with an electrician.
If using the Powerline route make sure you have a Network connection available in your Internet Router and also on your computer. Some laptops may need a USB adapter to accommodate a wired network connection.
TOP-TIP – We would recommend you pay a little extra and have the Pass-through Powerline. That way you don’t lose a power socket. In some homes they are a blessing!
I hope you found this article useful. If you’re still having problems, please feel free to get in touch and we will try our best to offer more help.