A guide to slow broadband

Suffering with slow broadband? We’ve got information on why you might be having problems, how to check your speeds, and ways you can improve slow broadband.

Slow broadband can be really frustrating, especially if you’re signed up to a broadband package with a good average speed that simply isn’t performing.

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Why is your broadband slow?

If you have slow broadband, this could be for a number of reasons. Firstly, depending on the type of broadband connection you have, you may be signed up to a plan with a low average speed.

However, if you’re signed up to a plan with decent average speeds and you’re still struggling, it might be down to things like:

  • Having the router encased in a cabinet or somewhere that’s blocking the signal.
  • Your distance from the exchange, which can significantly alter the speeds you get.
  • Using WiFi, rather than connecting directly to the router.
  • The number of people in your household using devices connected to the internet at any one time.
  • Old equipment, for example your modem/router.

How to check your broadband speed

The first thing to do if you’re unhappy with your broadband speed is to carry out a speed test.

You may want to do this a number of times and at different times of the day - to ensure you get an accurate reflection of your overall speed.

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How fast should your broadband be?

When you carry out the speed test, you may find that the speeds you get are significantly lower than your provider’s advertised average speed that you signed up to.

Average speeds reflect the typical speed you’ll achieve from your broadband package and are not a guarantee of the actual speed you will get.

The speed you get will depend on your type of connection and - if you’re not signed up to a Fibre-to-the-Home package - your distance from the nearest ‘exchange’.

You’ll get much faster speeds if you connect your device to the router directly, but this isn’t practical in a household with many devices that need to be connected at any one time.

How to improve slow broadband

Improving your connection can be straightforward, and sometimes small changes can make a big difference. How you go about improving your connection will depend on whether it is:

  1. Wireless (WiFi)
  2. Wired

WiFi connection

You’ll get slower speeds using WiFi than you would if you were connected directly to the router. If it’s possible, try connecting your device directly to the router - you should notice a big improvement in speeds.

If you need to use WiFi, there are a number of things you can do to improve your speeds, such as:

  • Make sure the router is not encased in a cabinet or surrounded by things that may block the signal
  • Ensure the modem is not near devices that could interfere with it e.g. microwaves, baby monitors or cordless phones
  • Move the router into the room where you use the internet most; and/or
  • Use a WiFi extender

If you live in an apartment building or an area with lots of wireless modems and lots of devices, you may experience some wireless interference.

Simply rebooting your modem - by unplugging it, leaving it for 30 seconds and plugging it back in - will automatically select the most appropriate channel for you.

If you have a large number of devices connected to the WiFi, it may be that one of these is causing an issue. You could try disconnecting all of your devices one by one, to see if there’s a particular one that’s causing you a problem.

Wired connection

If your wired connection is slower than expected, firstly contact your provider. They may be able to give you a newer modem, which could make a big difference, or offer some advice or technical assistance.

If your provider can’t help, you may want to look around and see if you can find a high-speed broadband package or a different type of connection.

The speeds you can get vary hugely depending on the type of connection you have, for example, ADSL broadband will be slower than Fibre-to-the-Home. Moving to a provider that offers a different type of connection may be best.

Switcher.ie’s free broadband deal checker shows you all of the deals available in your area, along with information on the type of connection, and maximum speeds for each provider.

What is the fastest broadband package?

The fastest widely-available plan on the market is the 1Gb Broadband plan from Virgin Media.

Virgin Media’s plans are not available across the whole country. If you can’t get access to Virgin Media broadband, you may be able to get reliable broadband, from a different broadband provider who operates where you live.

Carrying out a comparison of broadband where you live will give you the best idea of what’s available, and you can choose the plan with the average speed that suits you best.

If you’re lucky, you may be in an area that’s serviced by SIRO-powered broadband, which can go all the way up to 1,000Mbps.

Should you switch to a different type of broadband?

If you’ve tried all of the tips outlined above and they haven’t helped, you may want to look around and see if you can find a broadband deal with better average speeds or a different type of connection in your area.

If you’re not in a part fibre-enabled area, you may still be able to get a fast, reliable broadband connection via ADSL broadband, which is widely available all over the country.

Comparing high-speed broadband packages is really easy, and you could even make big savings by switching, as most providers offer decent introductory discounts.

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