Cable to plug into a broadband router

Broadband speed guide

Broadband speeds are really important, so what are the issues that can affect the quality of your broadband speed?

The speed of your broadband connection has a direct impact on your enjoyment of your web-surfing time, and therefore is one of the most important criteria when it comes to choosing a new broadband package.

With sites like YouTube and Facebook constantly demanding our attention, we need good broadband speed to be available at all times for ease of surfing, fast downloads and smooth video playback.

You can find some of the best broadband deals using the Switcher handy broadband deal checker.

What broadband speed do I need?

Fast, reliable broadband is a necessity these days. The speed you need will really depend on what you use the internet for - for example if you only use the internet to check your email, a speed of around 5Mbps is probably sufficient. Meanwhile, Netflix says it takes 5Mbps to stream its HD content, while the 4k ultra-HD steam requires 25 Mbps.

However, the faster your broadband speed, the better, as you’ll be able to carry out all of your online tasks much quicker if you have a decent speed.

I don’t know how fast my broadband is?

A broadband speed test can tell you exactly what your upload and download speeds are. Many customers do not really know what the difference between 24Mb and 100Mb is, from a practical point of view. The Switcher broadband speed test can let you know if your connection is fast or slow, which in turn, can help you to choose the correct package for your broadband speed needs. Do not commit to a new package without seeing all the options available to you first.

Before you run the speed test you should exit all other programs, games and windows, and shut them down properly as this will help to get an accurate reading of your broadband speed.

Can I speed up my connection without changing my provider?

Yes, you can! If you connect through a wireless router you can try changing the channels or even the broadcast type of your router. If you are a gamer and have good tech skills you can try to forward the ports on the router. Please note, this will not help with internet browsers, such as Internet Explorer or Firefox, it will only work for programs, games and utilities.

Extra broadband speed information

Usually the best speed available is determined by the area in which you live.

  • Do you live in an ADSL only or cable area? The fastest speeds are usually found in cabled areas.
  • Do you live in the country or in the city? City connections tend to be faster.
  • How far away from the telephone exchange is your home? The further away from the telephone exchange your router is the slower your connection can be.

As a general rule, ADSL broadband (so that excludes mobile broadband with either 3G or 4G, fibre optic and cable connections) works faster the closer you are to your telephone exchange. Currently, in Ireland you can expect your broadband speed to be somewhere between 512Kb and 1000Mb.

My broadband connection really slows down in the evenings?

ADSL broadband uses a shared connection and just as less seats become available on a bus or train as more and more people use the service, less bandwidth is available in the evenings and at weekends as more people are home and trying to connect to the Internet themselves. The correct phrase for this is ‘contention ratio’ which refers to the ratio between the maximum capacity of the telephone exchange and the number of users currently accessing the service.

Peak broadband usage times are usually between 7pm and 10pm at night, and this is when you may notice that your service is noticeably slower. The best time to use the Internet is between 12am and 8am, when the service usually a lot quieter.

Cable and fibre-optic broadband which run fibres to the home, such as UPC’s product, is unaffected by the distance your home is from the telephone exchange.

‘Fibre to cabinet’ service, such as that offered by eir and Vodafone is somewhat affected by the distance from the exchange, but often much less so than ADSL. This means it is a more viable option to choose one of the cable or fibre services to ensure better consistency in broadband speed. Bear in mind though, that all of these services are affected by the usage of other customers at peak times.