Broadband speed test tool

Broadband speed was recently found to be the number one reason why UK broadband users switch to a different provider thanks to a national survey, and it's easy to see why. Compared to other modern countries, especially those in mainland Europe, our internet service has incredibly poor speeds and is incredibly expensive for what we get. While the average speed for an internet connection in Sweden is around 100 Mbps, the average in the UK is around 4 Mbps, with many rural areas receiving far less than that, and even some parts of the country not able to receive broadband at all. Here's some advice about improving your broadband speed.

Make sure you're on the right deal - It's very important that before you try to make your connection any faster that you make sure you are on the correct package. If your current provider limits speeds to a certain amount, find out. If you are within a contract give them a call and ask them to be upgraded to the package that will make the most of your telephone line. This will cost more money of course, but it may give you a dramatic increase in speeds, too.

Switch providers - If you're already out of the date of your contract, you can switch without it costing any additional money. This is when it's a good time to run a broadband speed tester to see exactly what your line is capable of. These testers estimate your distance from the exchange to provide you with a rough estimate of your highest possible speed. This will depend completely on your area, but if the estimated speed is significantly higher than what you are receiving right now, switching to a different provider could help.

Consider cable - If you live in a town, there's a chance you might be able to receive cable services. Using a cable company like Virgin Media you'll get much better speeds because the services uses fibre optics rather than old copper telephone lines that were never really designed for something like the internet in the first place! Cable is comparative in cost to normal internet services, though you do need an engineer to come round and install the service into your home, and it's only available to about half the population of the country.

Check downloads - It may seem simple, but when your net is running slow it could just be because a computer in your home is downloading without your knowledge. This can happen for a number of reasons, though the two biggest culprits are virus checkers and Windows update, which love to download large files and update themselves without telling you. You can configure most virus checkers and Windows own programs to only download when you say so, but a better option with these vital updates is to set them automatically at a time you know you won't be at the computer and won't notice the slowdown in speeds!

Watch out for caps - Broadband caps, throttling or traffic shaping as it's more technically known are all pretty similar. They are ways for companies that offer 'unlimited' connections to control how much you use the internet. Sometimes they will cap your net usage to a certain amount and then slow your connection down if you go over, while other times there's no set amount you can download but you'll find during busy peak times like 6pm-10pm in the evening things slow down across the network. The only way around this is to switch providers.

The Broadband Speed Tester site is devoted to promoting a further understanding, in the wider community, of all things related to broadband. It is primarily focussed on such things as 'How to test my broadband speed' and 'How to perform a broadband speed test'.