How To Supercharge Your Broadband Connection
The speeds offered by broadband providers are getting faster and faster by the year, with many offering near-instant downloads, uninterrupted streaming and ultra-reliable connections as standard.
So why are so many people still experiencing problems with their broadband?
Whether it’s an online video in a perpetual state of buffering or a connection that keeps dropping out, most people will experience issues with their broadband connection at some point. Even worse, a lot of people won’t be experiencing the speeds advertised by their broadband providers.
There are many potential reasons for a broadband connection running slower than it should, including some (such as the location of your home) that the average home broadband user can do precious little about.
However, some of the most common reasons for a broadband connection slowing down are actually quite easily remedied. Here are some tricks and tips to supercharge your broadband connection:
Conduct a speed test
The first thing to do before fiddling with your broadband connection is to check that your connection isn’t being affected by outside elements beyond your control. One of the best ways to do this is to conduct online speed tests across the day to determine whether your connection is consistently falling below its potential, or just at certain times.
To do this, conduct speed tests in the morning, during the day, at night (around 7ish) and post-midnight. You should find that the tests in the morning and post-midnight returns the fastest speeds (and the closest to the maximum speed) while the night time result should post the slowest (due to high volumes of people online).
If the times outside of peak hours are routinely posting near-full potential speeds, then it might just be a case of high volumes of traffic affecting your connection.
Protect your connection
Another reason for any major slowdowns, although unlikely, is that someone else is using your connection without your permission. This situation usually arises when someone doesn’t password-protect their wireless connection and an unscrupulous neighbour’s device picks up on it.
The solution to this is obvious – set up a password! Don’t make the password too obvious though; neighbours will often know the name of your dog or children, so avoid these and go for something a bit more cryptic!
Upgrade / change your modem
Most broadband providers will send you a modem with which to set up your new connection and, unsurprisingly, these are very rarely top of the range. Although most people find them perfectly functional, if you’re the kind of person whose happiness lives and dies by how fast you can stream YouTube videos you might want to consider an upgrade.
If you’ve had your modem for a couple of years, it might also be time to think about trading up. Modem technology is getting better and is able to cope with higher and higher speeds. A lot of providers will be happy to trade your old modem for a new one, so it’s always worth asking.
Consider interference and signal degradation
Signal interference and degradation are two massive factors in the quality of your broadband connection. Interference can occur due to disruption from other equipment, a poor quality wired connection or even just the distance between your modem and the device you’re using the internet on.
For wireless connections, the ideal scenario is to have your device in the same room as your modem with a minimal of obstructions (doors, walls, etc). Obviously this isn’t always possible (especially in multi-device homes): in these instances, try and plan the route of ‘least resistance’.
You should also try and keep your modem away from any electrical equipment that might cause interference. Different equipment can cause varying levels of interference, but it has been suggested that objects with a motor can be especially troublesome.
You also make sure that your micro-splitter (the adapter you plug into your master telephone socket) is plugged in properly. A micro-splitter prevents other devices using your phone line from interfering with your broadband signal.
If you’re using a wired connection, avoid cheap telephone extension cables as these can cause massive amounts of interference and slow your otherwise speedy connection down to a crawl.
Wireless technology is generally considered to be more ‘advanced’ than plain old wired technology, but using Ethernet cables can have some distinct advantages.
The fact is, while wireless broadband does allow multiple users to access a connection at once, wireless signal can be extremely poor – especially if a few devices are using it at the same time.
An Ethernet connection, by contrast, provides a much stronger signal that shouldn’t drop out. There are presently three main types of Ethernet cable on the market; Cat5, Cat 5e (which provides a faster and more reliable signal than Cat5) and Cat6 (which provides the fastest connection of them all).
If all of the above fail to improve your broadband speeds, then it might be time to consider switching your broadband provider. There are hundreds of deals out there on ultra-fast connections, so shop around and you should be able to speed up your connection and save some money at the same time.
Christopher Smith is a freelance writer with a passion for all things digital. He is currently working with Custom Designed Cables, who provide bespoke cable solutions for a range of applications.