15 Aug 2019
If you’re having issues with your broadband speed or simply want to check that you’re getting the speeds your provider promised you, then you need to know how to check your broadband speed. The task itself is simple, as we’ll show you below, but there are a few things you need to know about why your speed might be lagging and what you can do about it too.
How do I check my broadband speed?
Do keep in mind that a speed test is only representative of your connection at the time of testing, rather than a holistic representation of the connection’s quality in general. It’s still a useful tool, especially if you’re looking to contest the speed you’re contracted for.
Broadband speeds code of practice
In March 2019 Ofcom launched a new broadband speeds code of practice, aimed at providing customers with more transparent information about speeds when they buy a broadband service. So far BT, EE, Sky, Plusnet, Virgin Media, and TalkTalk, which together serve around 95% of households, have signed up to the code.
What the code means for customers is that the advertised speed at the point of sale should be reflective of the speeds that are possible to achieve at peak times. Falling below the minimum guaranteed speed will give customers the option to exit contracts without a penalty fee.
Before deciding to switch, you can complain to your provider, if they’ve opted into Ofcom’s code of practice, and they’ll have 30 days to fix the speeds. Failure to do so will give you the freedom to leave the contract without paying any fees.
The above is only applicable to customers whose contracts started on or after March 1st, 2019.
What to do about slow speeds
It’s always best to contact the provider directly when you discover that you’re not getting the minimum speed, even if Ofcom’s code of practice does not cover you. Complaining will alert your provider to an issue which they can try to fix, giving you an in to renegotiate your contract price - should you decide that the slower speed isn’t too much of a bother. If the complaint isn’t resolved to your satisfaction, then you can escalate the complaint with the ombudsman or switch providers.
What can affect broadband speeds?
Many factors can affect the accuracy of the speed test and your speed in general. These include:
- Wireless routers: wireless data travels through the air, so obstacles like thick walls can have a negative effect on your speed if the data is having trouble passing through. The distance between your router and the computer also has an effect on connection quality.
- Data-heavy programs: close all software that uses frequent internet access like TV on-demand services, RSS feeds, and web radio.
- Downloads: this will affect the speed test, so ensure you’re not in the process of downloading anything when you’re testing.
- Multiple connections: turn off or disable other devices using your wireless or fixed-line network during the test for more accuracy as multiple connections will affect broadband speeds negatively.
- Peak times: traffic congestion is a real thing when it comes to broadband speeds, and the period between 8 pm and 10 pm tends to be busiest due to a large number of users online simultaneously.
Finally, you need to give your device a check. Make sure that all cables and routers are connected correctly. Once you’ve done this and are still unsatisfied with your broadband speed, then it’s time to call your provider armed with all the information gleaned from the tests. Your provider needs to check that there are no problems with your set-up, line and that no temporary faults are affecting the service.
Remember, not all providers can guarantee you top speeds, so shopping around for a different one may be the answer to your issue.
Typically, a fibre connection will give you the highest speeds, especially compared to ADSL, so look for providers of fibreoptic when you’re ready for the switch.
Use Hoppy’s services to compare speeds available in your area and find the best deals too.