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20 ways to boost your broadband speed

Tamires Criscio
Tamires Criscio
  | Edited by Tom Church
Updated 19th January 2021

Are you having problems with slow broadband speed? In this guide we will teach you how broadband speed works and how you can boost it! Latest Deals has shared the best ways to improve your broadband speed, it’s easier than you think!

In this guide

What is broadband speed? 

First of all, it's important to understand the concept of broadband speed. Broadband speed is how fast you can download or upload data using the internet. Usually, more people are downloading than uploading data. This is why most broadband providers give a faster download speed than upload speed. 

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If you are doing lots of uploads, you probably will need a faster speed specifically for uploads. Also, the more you are using the internet, the slower it gets. For example, if you have a household with more than five devices connected to the internet, you will need more speed than a household with only two. 

Why do you need good broadband speed? 

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You need a broadband connection that can handle the amount of data you want to download and upload daily. That is why it is really important to understand how you are going to use the internet before choosing a broadband package. 

You need to define if you are a light user, moderate user or heavy user to get a package that will keep you covered. We have another article that helps you choose the best broadband deal for you. Choosing the best deal for you will give you the exact broadband speed you need. This is the first step to guarantee a good internet connection daily no matter how light or heavy a user you are! 

If you already have a broadband connection at home and are having problems with speed, this guide is for you!

How do you find out what your broadband speed is? Testing your broadband speed

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The first thing you need to do to boost your broadband speed is to find out what speed you are currently working with. There are a lot of websites that can give you that information. One of them is Broadband.co.uk. The other one is SpeedTest.net. We would recommend using more than one source to test broadband speed to get the most accurate result. You will find out what your download and upload speed is and what services are available to you. To do that, you just need to provide your postcode and your broadband provider. As mentioned before, your download speed will be much faster than your upload speed, this is normal. 

What can affect your broadband speed? 

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Lots of things can affect your broadband speed. Some things you can control and some you can't control when it comes to your broadband speed.

Keep in mind that there are five main things: where do you live, what type of broadband connection do you have, what is the quality of the cables you are working with, where is your router and how are you using the internet. 

We discuss them below in more detail:

1. Where do you live and how far are you from the local telephone exchange?

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The further away you are from a telephone exchange and a street cabinet, the slower your broadband connection will be. You can't control that, but you can choose a provider that is closer to you when opting for a broadband package. This you can control! 

2. What type of broadband connection do you have?

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There are four types of broadband connections available in the UK at the moment: 

  • FTTH (Fibre-To-The-Home) 

This is the fastest one. It uses a fibre optic cable and connects your address directly to the telephone exchange. This is not popular for domestic use. It’s available only for businesses that can afford this type of broadband.

  • Virgin Media FTTC (Fibre-To-The-Cabinet)

This is the second-fastest option. It uses a fibre optic cable to connect the telephone exchange to a street cabinet. Then a coaxial cable to connect the street cabin to your address. The connection is not direct like FTTH and two types of cables are used, one fibre optic and one coaxial. Only Virgin Media contains this technology at the moment, making it an outstanding choice for super-fast broadband packages.

  • BT FTTC (Fibre-To-The-Cabinet)

This is the third fastest one. It uses a fibre optic cable to connect the telephone exchange to a street cabinet. Then a copper phone line cable to connect the street cabinet to your address. The connection is also not direct like FTTH and two types of cables are used, one fibre optic and one copper. BT, Sky, Talk Talk, Vodafone, EE Broadband, Post Office and Plusnet use this technology. Most of these providers will require a phone line. 

  • ADSL - Old standard broadband connection

This is the slowest broadband connection you can get at the moment. It uses a copper phone line cable to connect the telephone exchange to a street cabinet and a copper phone line cable to connect the street cabinet to your address. The connection is also not direct like FTTH and two types of cables are used, both copper ones. BT, Sky, Talk Talk and Plusnet also use this technology. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you want a faster broadband connection, you need to get the faster options. So this you can also control! If you can afford it, get the fastest ones, then you know you won’t have problems in the future. 

3. What is the quality of the cables outside and inside your address? 

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This is harder to control. Unfortunately, most of the housing in the UK has an outdated infrastructure, so the cables are often old as well. The same applies to cables outside your house. If you are buying a house, you can make this a priority and change the cables. 

Bigger companies usually have better infrastructure, as they have more clients and need to be present in more areas. BT has the total control of the UK's landline infrastructure, and all providers, except Virgin Media, use its cables. BT is always working to improve the quality of the cables, even more in urban centres. 

4. How is the router set-up?

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This you can control. We will provide lots of ways to boost your broadband speed, and some of them are about how to get the most out of your router. This is crucial for your broadband speed and it's a common mistake to overlook it. 

5. How are you using the internet?

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Lastly, as mentioned above, the way you are using your broadband is very important. If you are working from home and have lots of video conferencing calls, you will need more speed. If you are streaming on a Smart TV with Ultra HD daily, you will need to have more speed. If you are gaming, you will need more speed. Be realistic about your internet consumption and habits to get the speed you really need and use. Also, we have some advice on how to optimize your speed with some simple changes in how you are using your devices.

20 ways to boost your broadband speed

1. Update the browser you are using 

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If you are using a specific browser, make sure you are always updating it to its latest version. They usually send notifications about updates, but if you are not sure if you are using the most recent version, check it out and update today. For that just go to your browser’ official page and see if there is any new version available. 

2. Keep your computer’s cache clean 

Computers often collect and store random data in hidden places. This data is helpful when you are browsing the internet and accessing websites that you have been on before. It helps to load them quicker. With time, the cache can become full and your computer slower. It’s important to keep it clean to optimize your computer speed when navigating the internet. To clean your cache, you will need to go to your browser settings. There you will find the option, clean cache. Depending on the browser you are using, you can find this under “History”.

3. Keep your computer’s antivirus up and running

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Does your computer have an antivirus program up and running? If not, this could be one of the reasons why your internet is slow. Malware often uses your broadband connection to transmit messages with your computer’s data. This slows down your computer. Keep your computer healthy with an antivirus program. 

4. Stop automatic software updates 

Some computers have automatic software updates which can make the broadband speed slow. Automatic software updates are frequently downloading new settings from the internet in the background. Switching them off will avoid any unnecessary extra work that uses the internet and keep your computer optimised to navigate faster. 

5. Stop apps running in the background

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You will need to change the preferences of the applications you use daily. Most of them are always running in the background and using the internet. With their settings, you can block them from running when not in use and avoid any impact on your broadband speed. 

6. Change your router to a more modern one 

How long have you been using your current Wi-Fi router? If you have had it for more than five years, it’s a good idea to reach out to your broadband provider and ask for a new one. It's very unlikely that you will be charged as a regular customer. 

7. Change the location of your router 

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This is pretty essential and it's a common mistake. If anything is interfering with your router functionality, you need to remove it. The best place to store your router is on shelves, free of any interference. The best place to keep your router is centralized and high. 

8. Update your router firmware

Your router also has a software that can be updated online. If this sounds too complicated, you can follow this guide on How to Update Your Router’s Firmware. This will make the broadband speed faster. 

9. Check who has access to your password 

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Sometimes your internet is slow because more people than you imagine could be using your broadband. If you have an easy password, it’s easier to get access to it. Make sure you have a strong and difficult password that cannot be guessed. This is more common than you think! The government has a guide to help you to be cyber secure and to create a difficult password.

10. Change your router’s channel 

Your router works like a radio, sending and receiving signals. It also has up to 13 channels, which you can change to get a better signal. Usually, people leave their routers on defaults. You and your neighbours could be using all the same signals and slowing each other's internet speed. 

11. Consider using wired internet rather than wireless internet 

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This is the most important advice in this list! Depending on what you are using the internet for, consider using wired internet rather than wireless internet. If you want more speed, connecting your device directly to the router with a cable is more efficient. Leave the wireless connection to mobile devices only. 

If you have a Smart TV or use your computer for gaming or heavy editing programs, connect them directly to the router. The router comes with more than one entry point exactly for that. 

Lots of studies show that Wifi connection is slower than cable connection. Read this article Wifi vs. Ethernet: How Much Better Is a Wired Connection? To understand more about. 

This small change can potentially change your life for the better in seconds if you have been struggling with the speed. The recommended cable to use is the Gigabit Ethernet cable. 

12. Make sure your router is connected directly to the street cable

Sometimes, people use extensions to connect the street cable to their router. This makes the speed slower and is one of the biggest reasons for interference. To avoid this, you need to make sure that your router is connected directly to the street cable. This might require some changes in the infrastructure and calling your provider for help. The investment will be worth it. 

13. Check for phone line interference 

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If you have a phone line, this could also be interfering with your router functionality. You need to check if every phone socket has a filter to protect from interference. These filters are often upgraded as well, so, if you haven't checked them in a while, it’s time! This is also more important if you are using an ADSL - old standard broadband connection. 

With ADSL, you are using a phone line to get your internet connection and both signals can interfere in each other's functionality. BT has a guide if you are having problems with your phone line, which is also a sign that your internet connection is affected as well. 

14. Get a broadband accelerator 

The broadband accelerator will work by isolating the cable that comes from the street from getting any interference inside your house. This will ensure that the signal is as strong as it can be. A broadband accelerator can also be called a standard master socket or pre-filtered master socket. This is also more important if you are using an ADSL - old standard broadband connection. Usually, your provider will give you a broadband accelerator during the installation process. The most common one is from BT. 

15. Get a Wireless Booster 

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Wireless Boosters will only extend the reach of your wireless connection. They won't do anything for the broadband speed itself. If you are having issues with your wireless, this can be an option. You will be able to get a stronger signal in places you couldn't before, and that can improve your internet connection. Here are some options for you - TOP 10 Wifi Boosters. 

16. Get a Mesh Wifi Router 

Again, Mesh Wifi Routers won't do anything for the broadband speed itself. They will make the Wifi signal stronger in multiple places in your house. This is an excellent solution for spaces with multiple rooms and thick walls. Here are some options for you - Best Mesh Wifi Routers.

17. Turn off any device connected to the internet you are not using 

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If you want to optimize your broadband connection, it’s better to have fewer devices connected to the internet. If you are not using a device that is connected to the internet, make sure you turn it off. The more devices you have connected, the weaker the signal is.

18. Keep your router on even if you are not using the internet 

On the other hand, it’s better to always keep your router on. If you have the habit of turning your router off when you are not using the internet, it’s better to stop. This can appear as if your broadband is disconnected, making the line unstable and reducing speed. 

19. Get help from your broadband provider

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Most broadband providers have applications to help you get the most out of your broadband package. Virgin Media, for example, has one called Virgin Media’s Connect app. With this application, you can manage your Wifi to get the best performance and speed. 

20. Be careful with baby monitors, radios and microwave ovens

All of these common electricals that hang around your house can interfere with your router signal. So make sure you keep them far away from your router, even more, the ones with Wireless and Bluetooth connections. 

Is it time to switch your broadband provider? 

If you have done all the things listed above and still are having trouble with your broadband speed, you will probably need to contact your provider. They will check what is going on and help you to resolve this problem. 

Keep in mind that your broadband provider will try their best to resolve your issue. If they can’t. You have the right to leave them, even if you are breaking your contract. Also, you could be in a good position to haggle for a better speed within the same price you are paying at the moment. See here how to haggle for a broadband package deal! 

Understanding the Broadband Speeds Code of Practice

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In the UK, most broadband providers have signed a Code of Practice for broadband speeds. This means they must give their customers information about the average broadband speed they can expect to get with their package. 

When you sign up for a new broadband package, you will know what broadband speed to expect. If you are experiencing a broadband speed less than expected, it could potentially be a problem either with the provider or with your settings. 

If you have done everything in your power to optimise your settings, with some of the ways we mentioned above, and you still are not happy with the broadband speed you are working with, reach out to your provider’s customer service. 

Usually, broadband providers will be committed to finding out how they can help you to avoid losing a customer. If your provider can not resolve the problem, you can then exit your contract with no complications at any time. 

Understanding Broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO)

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Since March 2020, in the UK, every resident is entitled to receive reliable broadband connection. If your download speed is lower than 10 Mbps and your upload speed is lower than 1 Mbit/s, you have the right to reach out to BT and ask for a better broadband connection.

 They will come to your address and check if you are eligible for it or not. If you are eligible for improvement in your broadband connection, you will get better broadband quickly. If you are not eligible for improvement in your broadband connection, they will provide you with other solutions. 

Broadband Most Used Terms - Glossary of terms

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Wifi 

Wifi is a wireless networking technology. With a wireless router, you can connect different devices to the same network. This has become so popular that people have forgotten that using cables to connect devices to the internet results in stronger speed. 

MBps = megabytes per second 

Megabytes are blocks of data. One Megabyte is equal to eight megabits. MBps is used to represent file sizes, showing how much data is transferred in one second. 

Mbps = megabits per second 

Megabits are also blocks of data. One Megabit is ⅛ of a Megabyte. They are used to measure your broadband speed, represented as Mbps. If your broadband speed is 1Mbps, that means that in one second, one megabit is either downloaded from or uploaded to the internet. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: The difference between MBps and Mbps is important when you are considering broadband speed.

Download speed 

This is how long it takes to download data from the internet. 

Upload speed 

This is how long it takes to upload data to the internet. 

FAQ 

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Summary 

We gave you 20 ways to boost your broadband speed. We hope you can find a solution to your problem. If you have tried everything and still are not satisfied with your broadband speed, maybe it’s time to switch to another broadband provider. 

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