Slow Broadband -
With us being Data, WiFi and telephone installers these issues come
from working on “the front line”, rather than from theory.
This guide is for wired broadband, not wireless and not the
broadband from cable operators (that runs over traditional phone
lines, and into the existing telephone wiring in your house)
Your extension cabling is picking up interference.
Broadband and phone extensions only need the bare minimum of
telephone wiring, just two wires, to work around your house. Years
ago, in the days of dial phones, a third wire was required for
extensions to ring. We often find this wire is still connected, and
often several others, too. All excess telephone wiring does is
collect interference like long radio aerials, which is one of the
most common slow broadband speed causes. Get someone competent to
disconnect them. Also, if you have some of the cheap and nasty flat
“under-carpet” extension cable, throw
it away. It slows broadband down. We once saw a
dramatic speed increase when this was binned. In fact, most
extension cables and socket adapters are likely suspects. Try and
eliminate them. To see if this or your extension cabling is the
problem, plug your router direct into the socket behind the master
socket, (hence without extensions connected), leave for a couple of
days, and see if this improves matters. If it does, then your house
cabling is slowing things down.
2. Your speed is “capped” by your internet service provider (ISP)
Your provider has stopped your broadband from being faster at their
end, because they don’t have the capacity on their equipment to cope
with lots of fast users. Check the small print, and/or ring their
customer services. If you have a near neighbour using the same
provider, see if they get a faster speed than you. How do you check
your speed? See www.speedtest.net and www.pingtest.net they’re safe
and reliable to use, we use them all the time. Slow broadband speed
causes might be nothing to do with your end at all…
3. Your provider (ISP) has a problem at their end.
Some now have their own equipment in local BT exchanges, and this
can be less reliable than BT equipment. Yes, it does break down
and/or occasionally do strange things which are difficult to prove.
Hopefully, the provider’s web site may tell you about on-going
problems. But this is not of much use of you can’t get on-line…
4. Your broadband filter is faulty/breaking down.
The plug-in dangling filters are notorious for slowing things down.
I swapped one for another for one customer and got an instant leap
in speed. A filtered plate which fits onto the front of your master
socket is even better. We can install these, and they always make
the customer happy!
5. Telephone cable - All cables are not the same.
Just because it makes a circuit and gives you a dial tone does not
mean it’s suitable. Broadband pushes non-fibre technology to its
limits – it needs the very best in cable.
SOLID COPPER CORE. NOT STRANDED.
“Stranded” cable is made up of small copper or steel strands,
Broadband signals hate it. It attracts interference. It does not
connect easily or reliably in professional-grade jointing devices.
Burglar alarm wiring uses it extensively, but that does not have to
carry ultra-rapid data signals, just simple voltage. Most
professional jointing equipment uses a “punch-down” method of
connection known as IDC (Insulation
Displacement Connection). This only works well on solid copper
cable, not stranded.
NOT EVERYTHING THAT LOOKS LIKE COPPER, IS COPPER.
Some cheap cable is aluminium, coated with copper, and called CCA,
(copper-coated aluminium). It does not carry signals as well as pure
copper cable. It breaks easily, and causes infuriating,
time-consuming intermittent faults. The copper rubs off at the
joints, allowing corrosion to form. BT used this in their network in
the 1970s during a copper shortage, and are still suffering the
consequences 40 years later. Look for “CCA” on the outer sheath. It
will look like copper on the outside, but the core will be a dull
silver colour. Like aluminium, coated in copper, in fact.
THE TWIST, AND WHY IT MATTERS.
Electrical signals on a pair of wires can “talk” to each other
magnetically and slow each other down, usually when laid side by
side over a distance. Professional-grade cable has a twist
incorporated into each pair of cables – see our photo above. This
minimises interference “crosstalk”.
I have seen broadband speed increase significantly by replacement of
a flat under-carpet cable. We replaced it with proper solid core
twisted pair cable run along a skirting board. The speed went up
6. You are a long way from the exchange.
The further you are away, the slower your broadband speed will be.
Fact. If BT have started putting posters saying “fibre broadband is
here” on their street cabinets, then this may improve matters, as
there’s a high-speed link between the exchange and that cabinet.
But, if you are miles away from even that cabinet, you are, in
effect, still miles away from the vital equipment, and your
broadband won’t be fast. Slow broadband speed causes are often down
to where you live.
7. There is a cable fault between the exchange and you.
Your broadband flows over two copper wires half a millimetre thick,
which may run through ancient water-filled manholes, up poles,
through huge and damp junction boxes, etc., etc. We’re amazed that
it ever works at all. If you get a cracking noise on your phone,
particularly when it’s been raining, there may be a problem with
your line. This may not be provable to your provider, even if they
say they’ve tested the line from their end. And intermittent faults
are the hardest to prove. If you’ve got a distinct noise, then it’s
time to call out the provider’s engineer, as it’s their problem.
8. You’ve been turning your router on and off!
Don’t turn it off, as it needs to stay in touch with the provider’s
equipment all the time to “develop it’s electronic friendship”. In
staying on, it builds it’s own “profile” of speed, gradually
increasing until it reaches it’s maximum possible, almost as if it
is “learning” the best speed for the connection. The difference can
be significant the longer it stays on. If you turn it off, it has to
start all over again
9. You have a faulty/old router.
Some routers have known “issues”. Finding this out sorted a
long-term problem at one premises right away. Do a search on-line
using your router type and version as the search terms, and see if
others have had similar problems. Your ISP should provide another
one if it’s known to be unreliable. They know that, and usually
there’s no quibble. Or you could buy another one yourself that is
known to perform well!
10. The issue is actually with your machine, not your broadband
Your PC may simply be slow for multiple reasons. Not dealt with in
depth here. Try another known reliable device like a lap-top or
11. You have electrical equipment interfering with your
Don’t put your router next to a washing
machine/microwave/television/Christmas lights/neon lighting, etc,
etc. Try plugging it directly into the master socket.
So, some trade tips we’ve learnt from dealing with the mysteries of
slow broadband speed causes.