How to speed up slow broadband

Slow broadband can be really frustrating, especially if you’re paying for a fast broadband package that isn’t performing. Here’s how to check your broadband speed and improve a slow broadband connection.

Why is your broadband connection slow?

A slow internet connection can occur for a variety of reasons.

The type of broadband connection you have can be a big factor, but if you’re signed up to a plan with decent advertised speeds and you’re still struggling, it might be down to things like:

  • Blocking your router signal, e.g. having the router encased in a cabinet or behind thick walls.
  • A long 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.
  • Old equipment, for example, your modem or router.

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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 to check how fast your download and upload speeds are.

Try to do this at different times of the day to get an accurate reflection of your average broadband speed. You can find out more about how to test your internet connection in our broadband speeds in Ireland guide.

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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.

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

The internet speed you actually get will depend on the:

  • type of broadband connection
  • distance from the nearest telephone exchange

However, if you’re signed up to a full fibre plan, also known as Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH), then the distance from your cabinet won’t matter because you have a pure fibre connection.

This type of connection should deliver the fastest broadband speeds and be closest to the advertised average.

How to improve slow broadband

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.

Improving your internet 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.

Try connecting your device directly to the router with an ethernet cable. If you notice a big improvement in your connection speeds, then WiFi signal may be the issue.

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 which could slow your internet speeds.

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.

There are several things you can do to improve your speeds, even if you can only use WiFi:

  • Make sure the router is not inside 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
  • Use a WiFi extender

If you think you may be suffering WiFi channel interference, simply rebooting your modem by unplugging it and leaving it for 30 seconds may help. Plugging it back in should automatically select the most appropriate channel for you.

Wired connection

If your wired connection is slower than expected, then the problem is less easy to diagnose. You could try a different ethernet cable or remove any splitters you are using.

If this doesn’t help, contact your broadband provider. They will offer advice or technical assistance and may agree to give you a newer modem, which could make a big difference.

If your provider can’t help, and you are still not satisfied with your broadband speed, you may want to look around and see if you can find a high-speed broadband package or a different provider.

Type of broadband connection

The speeds you can get vary hugely depending on the broadband connection you have, for example, ADSL broadband will be slower than part fibre broadband (FTTC) or full fibre broadband (FTTH).

Moving to a provider that offers a different type of broadband connection may be the best option to speed up your slow broadband.

Switcher.ie’s free broadband deal checker shows you all of the broadband offers available in your area with information on the type of broadband 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 a speed and price that suits you best.

If you’re lucky, you may be in an area that’s serviced by SIRO-powered broadband, which can offer speeds all the way up to 1,000Mbps (1Gb) because it is a full fibre to the home network.

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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 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.

Visit switching your broadband provider to find out more about choosing another broadband provider.

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