|Page Editor: Norman Jackson||Page last Reviewed: 28 Mar 2013|
If you are concerned that the speed measured using the BBC test is much lower than it should be then it's worth reading the following notes (sorry about the length but there is a lot to this broadband business!)
If you are getting over 4000kbps, then it's likely that at present you can do most things on the internet with a decent quality of service (even HD iPlayer) so it's probably not worth worrying about.
If you have not already noted this, you can find it by zooming into and clicking on the dot over your property on the Google map on our results page. Remember that this is not an 'official' figure but our estimate of the maximum achievable at your line length from the exchange.
The way BT run this test has changed recently - it is now in two parts. The first part of the test gives you a quick measurement of download and upload speeds (not very accurate either). To get to the meaningful information shown in the image below, you must click the button labeled Further Diagnostics and enter your full phone number This is the most accurate speed tester we have found and gives other helpful diagnostic information such as Connection Rate and IP Profile The best time to test is during the day as the site can become congested after school and in the evenings. Click Here to access their test page. The results of the test will look similar to the image below - make a note of the following numbers: Download Speed, DSL Connection Rate and IP Profile.
If it's within a 1000kbps or even 1500kbps then that's probably as good as you are going to get, although if you are in Hartsop you'll want to squeeze every last kilobit out of the network. If the measured IP Profile is significantly lower than the predicted, this means the network has 'automatically' reduced the speed at which it can reliably send data to you - usually as a result of noise interference or poor connections giving a weak signal. If this is the case it should be possible to improve things.
You need to determine if the problem is with your internal wiring or with the line to your property. If you eventually have to call your service provider, you will be asked to perform this test, so you may as well do it now.
(i) This is best done using a computer that is connected to the router/hub or modem by an Ethernet cable - if you have to use a wireless connection ensure that the computer (laptop) is close to the router/hub so that is has the strongest and fastest wireless link possible.
(ii) Locate your BT Master Socket - it is usually where your telephone line comes into the house.
(iii) Most master sockets have a split across the front plate. The lower section of the plate can be unscrewed to reveal an engineer's test socket.
(iv) When you remove the lower faceplate it will temporarily disconnect all the extension wiring in your property.
(v) You can now connect the wire (RJ11) from your router/hub or modem into the test socket.
(vi) Run the BTSpeedtester again and note the results.
(vii) If you get an increase in your DSL Connection Rate then your internal telephone wiring is causing the interference that is lowering your speeds and you need to read the 'Top Tips' below to try and eliminate the problem. (Note: the IP Profile or Download Speed will not increase much at this stage as it can take the network up to 3 days to adapt to the new 'interference free' connection).
(viii) If your DSL connection rate doesn't increase when connected to the engineer's test socket, it's likely that the problem is on the network side and so it's worth calling your service provider to discuss it. A faulty router/hub or modem could also be the reason - it's surprising how often this happens (talk nicely to your service provider, they give them away free to new customers and may send you one).
The worst offenders are:
Halogen desk lamps
Electrical dimmer switches
Stereo or PC speakers
Fairy lights and Fluorescent lights
Televisions and monitors
AC power cords
Low quality 900MHz cordless telephones
(b) Use the main phone socket
Try to connect your Router/Hub or Modem directly (using a microfilter or I-Plate) to your property's main phone socket instead of an extension socket. This will reduce the chances of you getting electrical interference and take your home wiring out of the loop. You'll probably find the main socket near where the phone line enters your house.
Moving your computer closer to the main socket is probably not convenient but you may find it easier to position the Router/Hub or Modem close to the main socket and use a longer data cable (generally called Ethernet or Cat5e cables) to your computer or even think about connecting wirelessly instead.
(c) Ensure that Microfilters are being used properly
You need microfilters for broadband to work properly over the same line as your telephone service. Without microfilters you may hear a noise on the line when you make or receive a telephone call, or you may have broadband connection problems. You need a microfilter for every telephone socket in your home that has equipment plugged in. (It's recommended you have a maximum of four extension sockets with microfilters attached for each telephone line you have)
You can get microfilters from most High Street electrical shops, and online in the BT Shop. If you still have problems, unplug all devices and gradually add each back until you identify which causes the problem (using the DSL Connection Rate as your measurement)
Equipment that must connect via a microfilter includes:
Broadband modem or router
Digital TV boxes (if they are connected to your phone line)
Alarm systems (that are connected to your phone line)
Better still, use a filtered face plate on your main phone socket.
Don't connect your modem/router using an extension cable. Poor quality telephone extension cables are probably the number one cause of poor broadband speeds. Extension cables act as an aerial and can massively increase interference on your line, causing broadband speeds to be lowered. The simplest way to solve the problem is to ditch the extension cable and connect the router directly to the phone socket and then use a long ethernet cable to connect your computer to the router (these can be purchased in any computer store and cost around £ 1 per metre). Ethernet cables will not degrade the speed of your connection. If you have to use an extension cable, use a new, high quality cable and ensure you use the shortest cable possible - tangled and coiled telephone extension cables can pick up interference.
If you are using a cheap modem or router, consider replacing with a newer higher quality router. A cheap radio gives a poorer sound reproduction than a quality radio, in the same manner a cheap modem or router can sometimes be the cause of a poor broadband experience. Investing in a higher quality router can lead to improvements in speed and reliability, especially on poor quality telephone lines. If you're not sure, look online for user reviews of your make and model of modem or router - if there are problems it's likely that reviews will show this.
(h) Make sure your anti-virus software is up to date
Having up to date and operational anti-virus software is crucial as viruses, trojans and worms can use your broadband connection which can make your speeds seem to slow. Viruses and adware can also cause your computer to slow considerably which can make your broadband seem slow.
Many applications run in the background on your computer and some of these will be quietly using your broadband connection for tasks such as installing updates or uploading data. Examples include checking for new e-mail, updates to anti-virus programs etc. Make sure that all unnecessary applications are shut down to prevent this. If this makes a difference, then add back each application until you identify which one is affecting your download speed. Having large numbers of browser windows or tabs open may also have an effect on your download speeds - try running the speed test with all other web pages closed, does this make a difference to speed?
(j) Speak to your ISP
If you are getting speeds of 2000kbps (2Mbps) or less and the predicted IP Profile on our map is significantly higher, it could be worth speaking to your broadband supplier to see if your speed can be increased. This is particularly relevant for people who have had their connection for a long time and may actually still be on deals capped or fixed at a speed below that which your line can now support.
(k) Improving speeds over wireless links
Quite often people blame their broadband provider for poor connection speeds when actually the problem is a poor quality wireless network causing the issues. Your router may well be connecting at a very good rate but if the wireless link to your portable device is poor, this will severely reduce the speed data downloads to that device. If your portable device is close to your wireless router/hub the wireless link could well be running at 65Mbps or more, however, the further you move away the weaker the signal becomes and link speed is reduced, we saw one recently that was only linking at 1Mbps, so little chance of a 6Mbps download getting through! Other factors can also reduce your speed.
Get a better aerial - if your router or wireless device has an external aerial which unscrews you could try fitting a better one. This low cost aerial simply screws in to replace the old one and should improve range
If you are using a wireless router, ensure that no one can hitch a free ride on your connection and reduce the speed you get. Password protect and encrypt your wireless network to keep unwanted bandwidth thieves away. In fact, if you don't need to use your router's wireless feature, consider turning it off completely (using your router's configuration interface).
The following website is a wealth of information about all things broadband. There is some technical stuff but you can get a basic understanding of how it all works and what stops it working!