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How to get faster broadband speeds

How to get faster broadband speeds

Thanks to the rollout of fibre broadband, faster speeds are becoming affordable for more and more users in the UK. With fibre now available in over 25 million properties nationwide, competition is intense and the possibility of finding a better broadband deal with faster speeds is good.

Holly Niblett
From the Digital team
minute read
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Posted 7 JANUARY 2020

How do I test my current broadband speed?

Before pursuing faster broadband speeds, you really need to know what speed you’re getting now. We don’t mean the speed that is set out in your package, but the actual speed you get in your home. What you actually get may be a fraction of this average speed depending on where you live.

You can check your speed using an online speed checker – be sure to test during peak times (after 5pm). It's also worth seeing if speeds vary at different times of the day, if you can. You can download a speed checker app on your phone, or run a test from our online checker on your PC or laptop that will run the test over your Wi-Fi network.

This will give you a good idea of what speed you’re getting across your network. Typical broadband speeds are quoted in Mbps (megabits per second). This is the amount of data that can be transferred in one second. 

Your connection will have two speeds associated with it: a download speed and an upload speed. The download speed is generally much quicker, and this is the one usually quoted by broadband companies. A good speed checker will probably show you both. 

Why is my broadband speed so different to those advertised?

The most significant factor affecting conventional broadband services is how far away you live from a BT exchange and a street cabinet. 

Standard (ADSL) broadband operates over copper wires. The further a signal has to travel along a copper wire, the slower it gets.

So, if you live next door to an exchange, you might get speeds close to those advertised. If you live in a more rural area or many miles from an exchange, you’ll find the speed can be a fraction of that advertised

Fibre cables don’t suffer from the same issue, which is one of the main reasons why they’re so much quicker.

Other factors also affect broadband speeds including:

  • the number of people using the same network or exchange
  • the number of devices connected to your broadband network  
  • phone line quality  
  • bad weather

Just being signed up to a slow deal can have an impact too, particularly if you haven't changed your deal for a while.

Can I switch to faster broadband?

Possibly. Start by checking your current speed vs your package speed. But remember, that with standard broadband, most companies use Openreach’s infrastructure, which is owned by BT. Simply switching provider won’t necessarily give you better speeds as you’ll still be using the same wires.

However, you might get faster speeds if you switch to a fibre service. These are available from a range of providers, but what is available to you may depend on where you live.
First check that you’re out of your existing broadband contract or getting close to it. Most broadband packages have financial penalties for breaking your contract.

Remember, when signing up to a new deal look for the speed the provider will guarantee. You’ll find this in your contract. This is the speed that the provider commits to provide you on a regular basis.

Find out more about switching broadband provider

How can I compare faster broadband deals?

Assuming you’re ready to switch, use our broadband comparison service to compare what packages are available to you. 

Not only can you compare broadband services, you have the option to bundle in your home phone and digital TV packages too.

Simply enter your postcode and we’ll show you the deals available in your area. Get a quote in minutes.

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