Page Editor: Norman Jackson
Page last Reviewed: 09 Dec 2017
If you are concerned that the speed measured 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.
Lots of things can affect your broadband speed and many of these are beyond the responsibility or control of your service provider (i.e. after the master telephone socket in your property). In fact many of the causes of reduced speed are found within the property and BT may charge you £130 if they are called out and find the problem is with your equipment. Here are a few things that you can and should try before contacting your service provider.
1. Write down the Predicted IP Profile for your property.
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.
2. Run the BT Speed Test (you do not have to be a BT customer to use it)
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 labelled 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.
3. Understanding these results
If the measured download speed has shown a marked improvement, then this is the test to believe and you perhaps needn't go any further (but PLEASE click here to let us know the new improved speed so that we can make the parish results more accurate, it would also help to improve our predictions if you would tell us in the comment box, the measured IP Profile number and the Connection Rate)
How does the measured IP Profile compare to the Predicted 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.
4. Next Steps
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).
5. Send us your new speed measurement
If you are able to improve your measured download speed then PLEASE click here to let us know the new figures so that we can make the parish results more accurate, it would also help to improve our predictions if you would tell us in the comment box, the measured IP Profile number and the Connection Rate.
(a) Position your router to avoid electrical interference
Everyday items such as TVs, lighting and power cables produce electrical interference that can affect your broadband speed. You can reduce interference by making sure that your Hub or router is on a desk or table, not on the floor. You should check that all wires are firmly connected and secure. Also, check that all electrical devices that cause interference are as far away from the router and its wiring as possible.
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.
(d) ADSL Filtered Splitter Faceplates
The best approach is to fit a filtered NTE5 faceplate which filters interference at the main socket and eliminates the need for microfilters everywhere. Telephone extension wiring can act as a big aerial which picks up interference to the broadband signal. The faceplate is a device that fits into the bottom half of your split BT Master Socket. This can have significant positive effects on your speeds (although you may not see any improvement if there was no interference to start with - but worth having anyway). They cost between £9 and £18 (Google or Amazon ADSL Filtered Splitter Faceplate) and can be DIY fitted (Pressac, who make them for BT, and ADSLNation XTE-2005 seem to have the best reviews).
(e) Don't use telephone extension cables
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.
(f) Avoid using a USB cable to connect your computer to your router
Data throughput on a USB port is managed by software (not hardware as in a router/hub), so the speed of the connection can be affected by other USB devices, such as your keyboard, mouse and webcam all using USB at the same time. In fact if your still using any time of modem, consider upgrading to a router/hub (your service provider might even give you one if you ask nicely).
(g) Use a good quality router
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.
(i) Check for applications running in the background
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.
If you're using wireless broadband, make sure you place your broadband router/hub away from barriers that may block the signal, such as thick walls and ceilings, or large metallic surfaces like radiators, mirrors and refrigerators. Wireless works best when there's a clear space to your computer. Although a wireless connection gives you more flexibility to position your devices around your home, it can occasionally suffer from interference, which can affect your internet browsing.
If you must connect via wireless, run speed tests connected directly by network cable and again using the wireless network at different distances. If there are significant differences, consider the options below.
If you think you are getting interference on your wireless network, you can probably stop it and improve performance just by taking a couple of minutes to change the wireless channel that your router is using - your router handbook will tell you how to do this. (NB: The very latest routers such as BT's HomeHub3 automatically change channels if interference is detected). Channel 1 is usually free and won't interfere with the standard channels used by most popular routers.
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 and reliability .
Upgrade your router and devices to use the newer, more robust 'N'-rated wireless standard (as used in routers like the BT Home Hub 2 and 3) provides greater range and faster connections, however all your devices will need to support the 'N'-rated networks in order to see the benefit.
Use a wireless network extender; these boost the wireless signal in areas of poor signal by using the mains wiring to transport the signal. The Devolo dLAN 500 gets the best reviews but there are other makes.
(l) Password protect your wireless network
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).
Other useful sources of information
http://www.kitz.co.uk/ - This website has 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!
http://www.broadbandgenie.co.uk/broadband/help - This website also contains some useful information, with less jargon. It also has advice on choosing and switching providers.
http://connectingshropshire.co.uk/2014/10/fibre-fact-finding-expedition/ - This site explains how fibre to the cabinet brings superfast broadband to your home.
http://www.choose.net/media/broadband/ - This is a consumer information web-site. The Broadband section, includes tools to check availability, deals and guides such as rural broadband satellite and mobile services.