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Broadband speed test

  • Use our internet speed test to see how your connection compares with your neighbours
  • Find out how much it could cost, if anything, to switch to a faster internet provider
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How does our internet speed test work?

Comparethemarket’s broadband speed checker is a free, quick and easy way to test your WiFi speed and compare your current broadband speed with other providers in your neighbourhood.

Here’s how it works

  1. Before you run our speed check, make sure you’re connected to the WiFi network you want to test.
  2. Enter your postcode and select whether you’re testing a home or work connection. Then find your current provider from the drop-down list and hit the ‘test my internet speed’ button.
  3. We’ll show you your current internet speed – including download and upload speeds – and how that compares to the average speeds in your neighbourhood.

Making sense of your results

To help you understand your WiFi test results, we’ll show you how fast you can download music and stream TV compared with the fastest available speeds in your area.

We’ll also show you some of the fastest broadband deals available in your area, so you can see how the prices and speeds stack up against your current deal.

If your broadband speed is slower than you expected or you can see that faster speeds are available, we can help you to switch to a faster provider. Or if you’re still in contract, we can set up a reminder for when it’s time to make the switch when you use the ‘compare faster speeds’ option.

How does the WiFi speed test check my internet speed?

To test your internet speed our tool sends a signal to a test server, which goes back to your device. Our internet speed check then measures the time it takes your device to respond. The server also sends your device packets of test data and measures how quickly this is transferred.

Measuring upload speed is basically the same thing in reverse, with data being sent back to the test server. This is done several times to test your connection’s capacity and to make sure you get the most accurate reading. You’ll notice that your upload and download speeds are measured in Megabits per second (Mbps).

Why should I test my internet speed?

It’s a good idea to check your internet speed regularly to make sure you’re getting the internet speeds you’ve been promised from your current provider.

If you run an internet speed test regularly, you’ll also be able to see how your speeds and internet usage change over time, to make sure you’re on a deal that works for you and your family. And because broadband speed is getting faster year on year, thanks to network upgrades, it’s also helpful to see if you’re still getting the fastest internet speeds for your money.

Our broadband speed checker is:

Accurate

Use our broadband speed test to check the actual speeds you’re getting and to see if better value for money options are available in your area.

Quick

Our free broadband speed test runs straight from your browser, giving you results in a matter of seconds.

For all types of broadband

Our internet speed test can be used to check all types of broadband connections including ADSL (asymmetric digital subscriber line), fibre-optic, cable and mobile broadband.

What is my internet speed – and is it fast enough?

Your internet speed is how long it takes for data to be transferred from the web to your device, or vice versa.

Normally, when you see a broadband provider advertising internet speeds, they’re talking about download speeds, because that’s what we do most online. Every time we stream music, play games, watch YouTube or scroll through social media posts, we’re downloading data. Although we also need to upload data – to send emails, make video calls and use online banking, for example – the quantities of data we upload tend to be much smaller.

Your internet speed is measured in megabits per second (Mbps). Megabits (Mb) are not to be confused with megabytes (MB), which are commonly used to measure the size of internet data. One MB is equal to eight Mbs. That means you’d need an internet speed of 8Mbps to download a 1MB file in one second.

You may see broadband providers advertising gigabit-capable internet speeds. That’s equivalent to 1000 Mbps. With gig speeds you could download a 1GB file in eight seconds – but do you really need that? The internet speed you need depends on how much you use the internet and what you use it for. If you’re a large household and you all plan on simultaneously streaming movies, playing online games and making video calls, then you’ll need faster download speeds.

Find out what speeds you need for your streaming needs.

How can I improve my broadband speed?

If your broadband isn’t quick enough, here are some ways to get a faster connection:

Change your broadband connection type

If you’re on an ADSL or fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) connection, upgrading your broadband could really jump-start your speeds. To give you an idea, according to an Ofcom Report, in 2021 ADSL connections offered average speeds of 10.7 Mbps. Meanwhile FTTC connections were around four times faster, at 42.6 Mbps.

For even faster speeds, a fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) – or full-fibre connection offered an average speed of 145.4 Mbps, the fastest of them all. Run our speed test to see if faster full-fibre packages are available for your postcode.

Move your WiFi hub

This might sound too simple, but it could make a big difference. If you hide your WiFi router in a cupboard or behind the sofa – or it’s tucked away in a far corner of your home, your connection may suffer. Moving your hub into an open space, where the connection isn’t blocked by walls, furniture or anything else, could help your speeds improve.

Keep your router away from electronic devices

Halogen lights, microwaves, TV and baby monitors, dimmer switches and even fairy lights could interfere with your router’s performance. Keep your router away from both wired and wireless electronic devices to ensure you’re always receiving the best signal.

Use a wired connection

If your wireless broadband still isn’t cutting it, try a wired connection. An ethernet cable will plug your device into your connection’s source. This will give you a more stable and usually faster speed. It might be a hassle to tether your device to something but can help in a pinch.

What should I do if I’m not getting the broadband speed I was promised?

Not getting the broadband speed you want can be a good reason to switch providers. But what if you’re still under contract?

You can complain to your provider if speeds fall short of what was promised, and both of the following apply:

  • Your broadband contract started after 1 March 2019
  • Your service provider has opted into Ofcom’s Voluntary Codes of Practice on Broadband Speed.

If the problem persists after 30 days, you can walk away from your contract, penalty-free.

For contracts starting before 1 March 2019, or those with providers who haven’t opted into the code of practice, you can still complain to the provider. And if they don’t sort out the problem, you can contact the Communications Ombudsman, unless the fault is because of cabling and wiring inside your property.

Author image Sajni Shah

What our expert says...

“Our broadband speed test is a quick and easy way to see if you’re getting the speeds you’re paying for. We recommend running the test a few times a day to get a helpful snapshot of your average internet speed. You can then use the results to compare your broadband speed with other providers in your area. If you can access faster broadband where you live, you might want to start looking for a better deal.”

- Sajni Shah, Utilities comparison expert

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^As of January 2023 Compare the Market had an average rating of 4.8 out of 5 from 23,670 people who left a review on Trustpilot. The score 4.8 corresponds to the Star Label ‘Excellent’.  

Frequently asked questions

Are internet speed tests accurate?

Internet speed tests can provide a fairly accurate snapshot of your internet connection at the time you test it, but for a more complete picture, you’ll need to test your broadband speed at different times of day. Check your internet speed during peak hours (8pm to 10pm), then again at quieter times.

Your broadband speed check results can vary at different times of the day, depending on how many people in your house and the wider neighbourhood are using the same internet network.

If you’re testing a WiFi connection, rather than a wired or ethernet connection, it’s also important to note that the download speed can vary depending on how close you are to your router.

How can I get the most accurate WiFi speed test results?

To ensure you get the most accurate internet speed results when testing your broadband speed:

  • Make sure no one else is using your WiFi network when you run the internet test
  • If possible, turn off all other devices using the WiFi network
  • Ensure all cables to your router are connected properly
  • Make sure your router is in an elevated position (such as on a table or shelf) in clear view of your device and keep it away from other electronic devices
  • Use a wired connection, such as an ethernet cable. Your WiFi speed probably won’t be as strong as a wired connection, but your broadband provider only needs to hit the advertised speed. Otherwise, you have grounds to complain.

What broadband bandwidth will you need?

The amount of bandwidth you need depends on how you and your household use the internet.

Although the terms can sometimes be used interchangeably, bandwidth and internet speed are not the same thing. Bandwidth refers to the volume of data that can be transmitted in a certain amount of time. The higher your bandwidth, the faster and more reliable your internet connection will be.

If you’re working from home, you’ll need plenty of bandwidth for video conferencing and file sharing, especially if there’s more than one of you in the home office. If you and your household like to stream TV and movies or listen to music through Spotify, you’ll want to make sure you have enough for everyone.

What do the results of my internet speed test mean?

Your internet speed test results will show you how fast you can download or upload data through your connection, measured in megabits per second (Mbps). Once you know the speed of your connection, you can work out if it’s enough for your needs or if you should search for a faster broadband package.

To give you an idea, here’s a breakdown of the broadband speeds you’ll need for popular online activities:

Activity

Minimum bandwidth speeds Mbps

BBC iPlayer

1.5 Mbps - SD

5 Mbps - HD

Netflix

3 Mbps - SD

5 Mbps - HD

15 Mbps - Ultra HD/4K

Xbox One

3 Mbps

Spotify

0.096 Mbps – mobile

0.160 Mbps - desktop

What factors affect my internet speed?

Plenty of factors can impact your broadband speed including: 

  • The type of connection – There are three main connection types: ADSL, fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) and fibre to the premises (FTTP). The speeds of each vary massively, with FTTP – or full fibre – offering the fastest speeds.
  • How many people are online – If several people in your household are online at the same time, the bandwidth is being split between all of you.
  • How you use the internet – Activities like streaming HD content and online gaming use a lot of bandwidth.
  • Your WiFi hub – Walls and solid surfaces could weaken your WiFi signal.
  • Wired vs wireless – Wired connections are more reliable because you’re plugged straight into the source.

What connection types do I need to run an internet speed test?

Our broadband speed test can measure the speed for all types of broadband connections including: 

How does distance from the exchange affect broadband speed?

If you’re using an ADSL or FTTC connection, the distance between your home and the exchange cabinet in the street can make a big difference to your broadband speed. That’s because these types of connections use the copper telephone wires, which don’t work as well over large distances. The further from the cabinet you are, the greater the drop-off in speed. 

A fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) connection is fastest, because the fibre cables connect straight to your home. But FTTP connections tend to be more expensive and less widely available.

Why is my internet connection so slow?

If you’ve checked your cables and router but your internet is still running slow, here are some other reasons to consider:

  • Your web browser needs updating – newer versions work faster and are more secure.
  • Old equipment – older routers and computers can cause slower speeds.
  • Too many devices – the more devices connected, the slower your internet will be.
  • Peak-time traffic – if a lot of people are online at the same time, the local connection can get congested,
  • Your password is not secure – if your router isn’t password-protected, someone could be stealing your WiFi.
  • Your broadband package is too slow – if your connection can’t keep up with the demands of your household, it may be time to upgrade to a faster fibre package.

Where should I check my broadband speed?

There are several internet speed tests online that you can use. The benefit of using the Comparethemarket internet speed test is that once you know your results you can compare your speed to what is available in your neighbourhood and compare deals, all in one place.

What does it mean if I get different results from other broadband speed tests?

It could be that the conditions have changed slightly between tests, or the software or technology used by each speed tester is different. There are quite a few network speed tests out there, so if you’re trying different ones, your results might vary.

It’s a good idea to check your broadband speed on different sites as it could give you a better overall picture. Just make sure you run each speed test under the same conditions – time of day, position of your router, other devices turned off etc. to get more accurate results.

What is the Voluntary Code of Practice on Broadband Speed?

Ofcom’s Voluntary Code of Practice on Broadband Speed is designed to hold broadband providers accountable and make sure you get the broadband speeds you were promised when you signed up.

If you’re signing up to a broadband provider who’s opted into the voluntary code of practice (most of the big ones have), they must give you an estimated connection speed for usage during peak times. This is when your connection is most likely to slow down as there are more users on the network.

Your broadband provider must also give you a minimum guaranteed speed. If you’re not getting this speed and make a complaint, your provider has 30 days to fix the issue. If they can’t, you can leave your contract free of charge and find another provider.

How can I complain about my broadband speeds?

First, contact your internet service provider (ISP) and explain that you’ve tested your broadband speeds and they’re not as fast as they should be. Be clear on what’s in your contract. Broadband providers advertise speeds of ‘up to’ a certain amount, but they don’t promise you’ll get these speeds all the time. However, broadband providers must now offer a minimum guaranteed speed. Find out what this speed is and hold them to it.

Your broadband provider is required by Ofcom to give you advice on how to increase your speed. If they can’t solve the problem and guarantee their advertised speed within 30 days, you can cancel your contract free of charge. This means you’ll be able to join a new broadband provider and hopefully get a better speed.

About Comparethemarket 

We know comparing insurance and utilities isn’t much fun. So at Comparethemarket it’s all about keeping it simple. We help you find the right product at the right price. And you can trust us to be impartial – we only make money when you switch or take out a new product, so it’s in our interests to help you make the right choice. Comparing with us is about the enjoyable stuff too – we love to reward you with Meerkat Meals and Meerkat Movies when you take out selected products with us.*