Why is my broadband slow?


Why is my broadband so slow all of a sudden?

Person using a Macbook.

There are a number of different reasons your broadband might suddenly slow down.

Here are some of the most common reasons for this to happen:

Family members getting online

You can think of your internet a bit like a motorway. There are a limited number of lanes for traffic to move through. And the more cars travelling at once, the more likely you are to get a traffic jam.

Essentially, when other people in your household get online, this can cause your broadband to slow down. This is especially true if other people are doing data-intensive activities, such as streaming video, for example on YouTube or Amazon Prime.

Your neighbours getting online

Watching Netflix on a laptop.

As with the above issue, when too many people in a certain area request data at the same time, this can slow everything down.

Typically, if this issue occurs, your broadband speeds will slow down in the evening, when people are getting home from work and school and watching movies/TV online. As a result, you’ll experience buffering when watching Netflix, YouTube, or Amazon Prime.

This is a much less common issue these days, but it’s still something that can happen in certain areas.

Broadband infrastructure issues

Apart from facing slow evening speeds, there may be other infrastructure-related reasons why your broadband is slow.

  • A lack of fibre broadband infrastructure. This is when you can’t buy fast broadband, and are stuck with speeds less than 10 Mbps. If this is the case, you may be able to get faster broadband using a mobile broadband device.
  • Issues with your home broadband cabling. In some cases your internet service provider (ISP) can help you out with this, by sending an engineer to your house.

Poor Wi Fi signal

A WiFi router.

If you’re too far away from your Wi Fi router, or your Wi Fi signal is being blocked or interfered with, this could result in slow broadband speeds.

Fortunately, this issue is quite easy to test – all you need to do is move closer to your router and see if speeds improve.

Other potential broadband issues

There are an almost infinite number of potential reasons why your broadband is slow – we’ve just outlined a few of the most common potential reasons above. By using the quiz at the top of this page, you’ll be able to get an idea of what issues you’re facing and how you might address them.

As an example of a more obscure broadband issue, there are different “channels” that Wi Fi routers will communicate on. If you and your neighbours’ routers use nearby channels, this can cause inconsistent internet speeds.

We’ve explained how to fix this issue, and many others like it, in our guide to improving broadband speeds.

How slow is my broadband?

speedtest.net result.

If you think your broadband might be slow, it’s always a good idea to test your speed using a service such as speedtest.net.

This way, you’ll be able to measure if your speed improves at certain times. You’ll also be able to determine whether or not you’re getting the broadband speeds you’re paying for, which is really important to know.

If you take certain steps to improve your broadband speed, then you can test your connection again, to see if you’ve fixed the issue.

How internet speed is measured

Broadband speed is measured in “megabits per second” (commonly abbreviated Mbps). 1 Mbps means you can download one megabit of data in one second.

Most broadband deals in the UK are sold with a download speed of either 36 Mbps or 63 Mbps.

If you’re paying for a deal with these speeds, but still have slow internet, then it’s likely that there’s some sort of issue with your connection. You probably don’t need to go and buy a faster deal, as 30-40 Mbps is plenty of speed for most households. Instead, try to determine whether or not the issue is to do with your Wi Fi signal (a router or signal problem) or whether the issue is to do with a specific device.

Why am I lagging when gaming online?

Man playing FIFA 21 on a Playstation.

You may experience lag when playing games such as FIFA, Fortnite, or Call of Duty for the reasons outlined above. Typically, slow broadband is correlated with lag when gaming.

However, there are also other reasons you might have a higher than expected ping when playing online games.

Distance to servers

When you play an online game, your computer or console has to constantly communicate with game servers to facilitate your connection to your opponents.

If you’re in the UK, and you’re trying to play on servers in Australia, this can cause lag due to the sheer distance your data packets have to travel to reach their destination.

Other times, the issue is purely to do with the quality of the servers that the game company is using – especially if you like to play a certain football game.

Wi Fi issues

Internet router.

If at all possible, you should avoid playing video games over Wi Fi. Even if you have a fairly good connection to your router, you can still experience a lot more lag than you would if you used a wired Ethernet connection.

Consider buying a powerline adapter if your PC/Xbox/Playstation is too far away from your router to plug it in directly.

Background downloads

Game consoles and PC applications such as Steam and Origin love to do background updates of games.

If your internet isn’t particularly fast, these updates can cause lag. Be sure to disable them if updates are causing issues.

Who can help me fix slow broadband?

Person typing on a laptop.

Depending on the exact internet speed issue you’re facing, there are a few people who can help you out.

  1. Your internet service provider. After all, you pay them for a specific broadband speed, so they are obligated to help you if you’re not getting what you’re entitled to. However, ISPs aren’t much help if you’re only experiencing issues with a specific device, or in specific situations. They can however help out with poor evening speeds.
  2. Ofcom, the telecommunications regulator. If your ISP fails to help you when they should, Ofcom will direct you to the relevant Alternative Dispute Resolution service to escalate the complaint. They have a guide explaining what to do in the situation that your ISP fails to provide the service you are paying for.
  3. For issues that are unlikely to be ISP-related, or for general advice, you can contact us and our team will be glad to help out.

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