Broadband Speed Test

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About the speed test

Broadband speeds in Ireland differ according to a number of factors and can have a considerable effect upon the efficiency of downloads, especially larger files such as music or films. This can be frustrating, more so if you are attempting to stream from the internet. The Switcher Broadband Speed Test, which is a free service, measures your broadband speed rapidly irrespective of whether you have a broadband, ADSL, cable, satellite, wireless and or 3G /4G service.

In order to obtain the most accurate broadband speed test result, ensure you take the following steps at the time that the test is conducted:

  • Downloads - cancel any downloads, including those initiated by background programs, as this will adversely affect your broadband speed. Also you should close any programs that require a constant internet connection such as online radio or RSS feeds.
  • Wireless routers - connect your computer to your router with a cable, if possible. While wireless connections are very convenient, they do not always utilise the fastest broadband speeds. Thick walled buildings and the physical distance from the router are just two factors that can have an adverse affect on your broadband speed when using a wireless connection.
  • Multiple users - turn off devices which utilise your broadband connection in addition to your home computer such as smartphones and iPads, as multiple connections to your broadband service will affect the speed recorded in the test.
  • Network coverage - stay still if you are testing the speed of your 3G / 4G connection. Although 3G / 4G is designed to offer you internet on the move, the quality and speed of the connection will vary considerably from place to place, so only run the test when you are stationary and have a strong signal.
  • Broadband network congestion - choose a quiet time of day when broadband download demand is low. Peak times, especially during evenings, put your ISP under pressure and broadband speeds can suffer, especially if the ISP activates 'throttling' (the artificial slowing down of the network).

How does the speed test work?

When the Switcher Broadband Speed Test is initiated, data ‘packets’ are sent from our Irish servers to your computer and back again. This is dummy broadband data designed only so that we can measure the time it takes for the data to reach your computer (the download speed) and be returned to our servers (the upload speed).

You can find out more about how our speed test works in our 'technical specifications' FAQ below.

How to get accurate results

While the speed of your broadband will be accurately measured, it is important to note that the test is only a snapshot of your connection’s performance at that point in time rather than an overarching assessment. Running the test a at different times of the day and week will provide a more accurate picture of its overall performance.

In order to obtain the most accurate result possible you should:

  • Ensure that no devices on your connection are downloading any data at the time of the test.
  • Close all applications that make constant use of the internet such as radio, Skype, social media applications, RSS news feeds and or TV services.
  • Turn off all other devices that access your broadband connection, except for your main computer.
  • Check that all cables are attached correctly to your router and computer / laptop.
  • If you are using a wireless connection, move your computer / laptop as close as possible to the router (less than 10 metres is ideal) and ensure there is ‘air’ between the equipment (i.e. remove large objects that could block the signal and open doors etc). Some electrical appliances such as baby monitors, microwaves and cordless doorbells can sometimes interfere with wireless connections. To get the most accurate reading you should make sure all these types of appliances are turned off.
  • If you are testing a 3G / 4G connection, on such devices that enable mobile broadband, we recommend that you remain stationary for the duration of the test. If you are in motion or go out of range of your mobile broadband coverage while the test is in progress, this will most likely return an inaccurate measurement.

Why am I so slow?

If you receive a test result which indicates that you have a slow broadband connection and you have carried out the checks in the how to get accurate results section, it is important that you investigate the possible causes of this before contacting your internet service provider.

  • Firstly, check that all cables are attached correctly to your router and computer. Its advisable to make sure your internet connection is password protected to ensure that third parties are not ‘piggybacking’ (that’s accessing your connection without your knowledge).
  • Ensure that your firewall is active and your anti-virus software is up to date; run a thorough scan of your machine to check that spyware or adware has not been installed without your knowledge as these irritating programs can severely hinder your broadband speed.
  • Contacting your ISP is the next step. Some causes of slow speed, such as the distance of your home from your exchange, can be difficult to rectify but a simple line test will highlight any technical problems with your connection.
  • Your ISP will also be able to investigate other possible causes such as any temporary faults with the service and offer further assistance regarding the correct set-up procedures.

If all else fails, switching to another broadband provider is always a viable option!

Who is the fastest ISP?

eir offers ultrafast broadband speeds, the fastest in Ireland. Their eir Fibre broadband packages have download speeds capable of reaching up to 1000Mbps and upload speeds up to 200Mbps.

Virgin Media is known to deliver superfast home broadband services in Ireland. All broadband packages include download speeds up to 240Mbps and upload speeds up to 20Mbps as standard.

Sky and Vodafone are two prominent alternative service providers, each also providing superfast home broadband services that can deliver up to 100Mbps.

When it comes to mobile broadband, each of the main service providers in Ireland, i.e. Vodafone, Meteor, Three and eir Mobile, all provide a similar level of service in terms of broadband speed.

Its important to remember that broadband speeds offered by all broadband providers do fluctuate month on month, so please do keep an eye on our speed test graphs, trends and maps for comprehensive information.

With technology constantly evolving, broadband getting faster and ISPs offering speeds up to 1000Mbps, we at Switcher pride ourselves on keeping abreast of the latest developments.

Technical specifications

Technical specifications of download test

The download speed is measured by timing the transfer of data packets over a HTTP connection. The initial transfer of a small file to your computer enables the test to measure the approximate speed of the connection before transferring a larger file for the optimum performance result.

In order to assess the download speed capacity, multiple files are downloaded simultaneously so that the user’s bandwidth is ‘saturated’, thus providing a clear picture of the overall capability of the broadband connection to download more than one file at the same time.

Technical specifications of upload test

ISPs in Ireland are recognising the need to provide faster upload speeds. Broadband users are uploading more content than ever before and as such the delivery of fast upload speeds is a very important factor when it comes to assessing your broadband service requirements.

Our speed test submits packets of data over an HTTP POST connection and times how long the transfers take, in order to work out an upload speed in Mbps.

The test submits multiple packets at the same time. This causes the user's bandwidth to be saturated, providing an accurate picture of their upload speed capacity.

What is the speed tests capacity?

The Switcher Broadband Speed Test measures broadband download speeds up to and above 1000Mbps. It works with all broadband services in Ireland, including the fastest services offered by the likes of Virgin MediaSkyeir and Vodafone.

The Switcher Broadband Speed Test is equally suited to measuring the speed of all types of internet connections including ADSL, cable or fibre-optic, satellite, 3G / 4G and any broadband connections utilising wireless routers to connect to the internet.

Providing an accurate test result is only possible if the user follows the instructions set out, in particular disabling all other devices which use the connection and terminating applications which require a heavy demand on downloading data, as these will adversely affect the test result.

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