It can be really, really frustrating when the broadband in our homes fails to match up to what we expect. Periodically, there can be peaks and troughs in broadband performance. And although we should get a stable line, it isn’t always so.
We start off with such high expectations when we see the advertised rate from our provider of choice. 15MBps or 24MBps, or even a lower rate might have excited us. But then when we try to stream a movie, we have problems. When we try to game online, we have double problems.
Time to Test Your Speed
If you’re experiencing all of these, it’s time to test your speed. “How do I test my broadband speed?” I hear you say. “Simple” I answer. All you need to do is choose one of the many speed test providers. You can find them by doing a search on Google. Once you found one, it will pick-up your IP address and location and will upload and download a file in order to test the speed. It’s important that it’s able to choose a server close to you geographically in order to get accurate results.
Armed with your upload and download speed you will have an idea of how far from your contract speed you are getting.
Test with Your Ethernet
If you run a test with your wireless and you find underperformance, it’s well worth testing with your ethernet cable plugged to your device to find out whether you still have problems. If your ethernet speed is faster then it indicates that you have problems connecting wirelessly. This narrows down your search for solutions.
Reasons for Wireless Connectivity Problems
There are a number of reasons that your wireless connection may not be performing well.
- If you are a long way from the router the signal strength may not be sufficient to gain good internet connectivity.
- If you live in an older house, you are more likely to have thick walls and thick ceilings which can make an impenetrable barrier for wireless connections or at least slowing down significantly.
- If there are a number of other people in the area on the internet connecting wirelessly, there can be interference between networks.
- Electrical interference can cause speed problems and even instability.
A common fault is when the boiler turns on and throws the connection interfering with the wireless router’s ability to do almost anything.
Here are Some Things You Can Do
To improve your wireless signal, you could buy a premium router. Premium routers should have a longer range and better ability to send strong signals. They may have more antennae that make this so. In addition, they may be dual band, meaning they operate on the 2.4GHz band and the 5GHz band. The 2.4 is far more common and if you’re getting interference from other local networks, switching to 5 can really help.
There are also solutions with your router but this will be router dependent and network dependent, and you should check the guidelines on the website of your provider or in your user manual.
You may be able to get a little more signal strength by raising the broadband router a few feet. This may increase the ability of your devices to connect. Certainly a router should not be behind obstacles or in a drawer. Ensure that there aren’t any electrical devices, such as radios or microwave ovens, within a metre or so of the broadband router.
If you’re looking to switch deal, or looking for your first broadband, then it’s a great idea to get on a service that shows you speed tests in your area. You can then assess the different speeds of different providers and make an informed choice. It’s kind of like going around and asking your neighbours what speed they’re internet is and what provider they’re on. Except, you don’t have to do any walking around. You just enter your postcode, click start and you’re presented with the information.
Family members often ask Phil Turner “Will you test my broadband speed for me?” They seem to be just frightened of plugging in and unplugging Ethernet cables.