Your broadband connection will always try to connect at the fastest possible speed it can. Packages are sold as an “up to” speed signalling this fact. For instance, connection speed may be up to 17Mbps, with the top speed on the line 17Mbps but your actual speed may be somewhere far below that level.
- The Distance from the Telephone Exchange
With ADSL, the Internet data passes through copper cable. BT has a network of cable that runs around the UK and the majority of households can get ADSL broadband through it. The characteristics of copper cable mean that the signal deteriorates as it goes down it. Therefore the speed at the exchange will be different from the speed at the cabinet it reaches. The closer you are at the exchange therefore, the higher the speed you’ll attain and the closer to the maximum speed available on the line. If you are miles away, you may get far below the speed you were sold.
- Upgrades to the Telephone Exchange
- A lot of exchanges have had upgrades and now offer ADSL2+. This provides faster broadband allowing you better speeds.
- Your Telephone Line Quality
- A phone line comprises insulated copper cable conductors twisted together. If one or both of the copper cables are corroded, damaged, or in any way in a deteriorated condition, you will get poorer Internet speeds.
- The Package On Which You Are Placed
- The speeds available on ADSL2+ are up to around 17Mbps and on ADSL, around 6Mbps. These days, many of us find ADSL faster than this. My Sky broadband connection is running at close to 20Mbps through ADSL.
Fibre Broadband Technology
Fibre broadband has really high theoretical speeds with Virgin rolling out 1Gb connections and BT 330Mb connections to businesses. Residential broadband normally comes up to around 76Mbps. The key determinants of speed with FTTC are:
- Distance from the Cabinet
FTTC runs through fibre all the way to the cabinet and then through the copper lines the rest of the way, which can slow the speed. FTTH has Fibre all the way into the building.
- The Quality of your Phone Line
If your phone line has deteriorated, then your wiring will affect the speed of your Internet and can cause bottlenecks. Bottlenecks can be sorted if identified properly. When upgrading your house it may be worth putting aside a small budget to update your wiring (if you are aware of issues). Also make sure that you are connected through the main phone socket. Otherwise, you will have a lot of wiring for the Internet connection to pass down within your house; wiring that may not be up to the job.
When it comes to connecting wirelessly, you may find underperformance compared to connecting with your Ethernet. If that is the case, then try upgrading your broadband router to one that provides a better signal and is able to use different bands. You may be getting interference from devices in your home, such as your boiler turning on and off, or you may have interference from outside networks. In addition, the distance you connect away from your broadband router, and the materials your signal has to pass through in the form of walls and ceilings, will make a big difference. Connecting wirelessly in line of sight of the router is optimal.
Phil Turner has a son who asked him, “How do I test my broadband speed?” Phil explained the process outlined in this article.