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A guide to slow broadband

Slow broadband can be really frustrating, especially if you’re signed up to a broadband package with a good ‘up to’ speed that simply isn’t performing. We’ve got information on why your broadband might be slow, how to check your speeds, and ways you can improve slow broadband.

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Why is my 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 ‘up to’ speed.

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

  • Having the router encased in a cabinet or somewhere that is 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 - and the devices - connected to the internet at any one time.
  • Old equipment - such as your modem/router.

How do I check my broadband speed?

The first thing to do if you’re unhappy with your broadband speeds is to carry out a speed test. You may want to do this a number of times - at different times of the day - to ensure you get an accurate reflection of your overall speed.

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How fast should my broadband be?

You might be surprised when you carry out the speed test to find that the speeds you get are significantly lower than your provider’s advertised ‘up to’ speed that you signed up to. This is because ‘up to’ speeds are just that - they reflect the maximum 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 obviously this is simply not practical in a household with many devices that need to be connected at any one time.

How can I improve slow broadband?

Improving your connection can actually be pretty straightforward, and sometimes small changes can make a big difference. How you go about improving your connection will depend on whether you have a wired or wireless connection.

I use WiFi - how can I improve my broadband speed?

First of all, it’s important to remember that you will get slower speeds using WiFi than you would if you were connected directly to the router. If it’s feasible, 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, as follows:

  • 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 - like 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.

Also, 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.

My wired connection is slow - how can I improve my broadband speed?

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, and they may also be able to 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 broadband deal with better speeds or a different type of connection. The speeds that are achievable vary hugely depending on the type of connection you have - for example ADSL broadband will be slower than Fibre-to-the-Home - so moving to a provider that offers a different type of connection, if possible, might be the best bet.

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? How can I get the best broadband speed?

The fastest widely-available plan on the market at the moment is the 360Mb and Mobile World plan from Virgin Media. It comes with speeds of up to 360Mbps, and an unlimited allowance, so it’s well suited to even the busiest households.

The problem is that Virgin Media’s plans are not available across the whole country. However, if you can’t get access to Virgin Media broadband, don’t worry - it’s likely you’ll still be able to get reliable broadband, with good speeds, from a different broadband provider who does operate 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 speed that suits you best.

If you’re lucky, you may even be in an area that is already - or soon to be - serviced by SIRO-powered broadband, which goes all the way up to 1,000Mbps.

Can I get a better plan? What are the alternatives to slow 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 speeds or a different type of connection in your area. The chances are that, if you haven’t switched in a while, there could be new technologies available in your area now, which could make a big difference.

If you’re not in a fibre-enabled area, and so can’t avail of a fibre broadband plan, remember 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 not only could you get a better connection, you could also make big savings by switching, as most providers offer decent introductory discounts.

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