Broadband Speed Tips
What do broadband speeds actually mean?
Broadband speeds are generally measured in Mbps (Megabits per second). When addressing broadband speeds there are two key factors to consider:
- Connection/SYNC speed
- Throughput speed
Connection/SYNC speed relates to the maximum speed/bandwidth achievable between the router and the cabinet (green street-level box) or the Exchange. This is commonly referred to as SYNC speed.
Throughput speed relates to the actual speeds experienced when using the broadband service across the entire network (from your device right to the intended server, for example, Facebook). This will always be slightly lower than the SYNC speed because there are additional rules which help route the data/content, known as overheads. However this is not the only factor which effects throughput speeds – see further below.
Data flows in two directions simultaneously i.e. download and upload. Most broadband services are asymmetrical, meaning that the download speeds are significantly higher than the upload speeds.
Download Speed – The actual rate at which data/content is received over your broadband line. For example, the time it takes to download the latest software updates from the internet onto your device.
Upload Speed – The actual rate at which data/content is sent over your broadband line. For example, the time it takes to send a picture from your device to a social media site. As mentioned earlier, the upload speeds are lower than the download, hence it will take slightly longer to send. Note, if the upload bandwidth becomes saturated it will impact the download speeds too.
What factors can affect broadband speeds?
There are many scenarios which can impact the performance of broadband services, especially for technologies such as ADSL/FTTC/G.FAST, largely due to current infrastructure relying on the use of copper (FTTP or fully-enabled fibre lines are not impacted in the same way). These can be broken down into the internal (customer site) and external factors. Listed below whilst not limited to, are the common impacts:
- Line length and quality due to the inherent nature of copper:
- Signal degradation over distance.
- Highly conductive and physical degradation
- Weather conditions
- Prone to interference and noise during the course of the physical line
- Peak time congestion – may experience slower speeds during the evening when more people are active online.
Internal Factors (Customer site)
- Physical broadband setup – To achieve the best speeds it is crucial to be connected directly to the master socket. This is usually the main socket where the outside telephone line directly terminates; connecting to other sockets simply exposes the line to the issues stated above
- Outdated setup whereby star-wiring or poorly located sockets prevent access to connect the broadband kit, hence use of poor extension cables
- Equipment fault which includes:
- A faulty/limited router performance
- Faulty DSL filter
- Faulty DSL cable (should be no longer than 2 meters in length; avoid extension cables)
- Old and outdated devices/firmware, such as tablets and laptops running old operating systems/drivers
- Wi-Fi Limitation – Prone to interference and objects within the home that reflect or block the signal, for example, thick walls
- Usage and Perception
- Data intensive activities or high number of users sharing a low bandwidth
- Upload saturation – especially when using file sharing applications or uploading large attachments when sending emails
- One off, high usage events – Microsoft/Apple updates/International sporting events whereby global demand for streaming these events is high
- When connected to an external VPN network
- Electrical interference from other devices in proximity to the router
Evaluating Throughput (Speed Tests)
There are many factors that contribute to identifying throughput issues. Completion of the first line checks is essential before proceeding to the additional testing below:
- Turn off Wi-Fi – Due to the inherent issues (interference, distance and congestion) performing speed tests over Wi-Fi are not accepted
- Connect a single device to the router via the Ethernet port; ensure no other devices are connected to the router
- Use the following speed test sites, depending on your product:
- If you are unable to complete speed tests on the above links, please use the following link: speedtest.net
Make note of when the throughput issues occur and whether they are specific, for instance:
- Are these experienced all the time or during specific times of the day?
- Do the throughput issues occur with certain traffic types or applications, for example, when streaming online TV or online gaming?
Please contact your customer service team for additional assistance.
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