How to check your broadband speed and why you should do so
Most of our homes are connected to the internet as it provides us with information, entertainment and connections with our families and friends. But the speed of your broadband greatly affects the service you receive and your overall enjoyment. Most people do not realise that they may not be receiving the full download speed that is advertised by their broadband provider. So below I tell you how to check your broadband speed and why you should do so.
What is broadband speed?
There are two different types of broadband speed:
Speed from the exchange to your property
Also known as your line access speed, this is the maximum speed between your local telephone exchange and your property. The speed and quality of this connection will depend upon how far you live from your exchange if you receive broadband via a phone line. Broadband speed via fibre optics is not affected by the distance your house is from the telephone exchange.
Speed you experience in your home
Also known as throughput speed, this is the actual speed you experience on your computer, games console or other device you may have connected to your broadband network. This speed will be lower than the line access speed as it is affected by factors such as the layout of your property and how many devices are connected to the network.
Why should I check my broadband speed?
According to research carried out by Ofcom around 19% of customers with an advertised broadband speed of 8Mbits/s are actually only receiving average speeds of less than 2Mbit/s. Even those who are able to receive the maximum headline speed will find their maximum speed is often below the maximum for other factors such as the number of people using the internet provider's network at the same time and general congestion on the internet.
How can I check my broadband speed?
There are a number of tests available on the internet such as the one provided by uSwitch.com. What is useful with this particular speed test is that it shows how your tested broadband speed compares with that available through other providers. There are also a number of smartphone apps available to test your broadband speed with just one button tap. Once you have tested your broadband speed check with your provider the maximum speed your particular service is meant to provide.
What can I do if my broadband is slower than advertised?
Complain to your broadband provider as they could be in breach of contract. Ofcom has launched a voluntary Code of Practice for broadband providers to sign up to. This requires providers to supply consumers with much more information on the maximum speed they can individually expect to receive.
In particular the Code requires providers to:
- provide customers with an accurate estimate of line speed at point of sale
- resolve technical issues to improve speed
- ensure that all sales and promotion staff have a proper understanding of the products they are selling
- provide consumers with information on usage limits and alert customers when they have breached them
- the full Code can be found here - Code of Practice