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How fast is your internet? Do you get what you pay for?

10/03/2022 - Insurance guides

Have you ever wondered whether your Broadband subscription lives up to what was promised when it comes to your internet speed?

We should point out straight away that speed fluctuations in your internet connection are normal.

Depending on what you are doing online, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should be able to provide you with a fixed range of Mbps (megabytes per second) to give you an idea of how fast/slow your connection will be prior to subscribing to a broadband package.

How do you measure your connection speed?

Internet speed is not like your car speed on the motorway. You don’t need to be going that fast to enjoy a painless browsing experience.

When referring to “Internet speed”, we are actually referring to an interaction of different processes that help to deliver the connection that you end up with at home.

Here are some useful terms to help you understand how “Internet speed” works.

Why is my Wi-Fi so slow?

Broadband and Wi-Fi are sometimes used interchangeably as terms when referring to the internet connection and speed.

However, they are two different technologies that are co-dependent. Broadband provides the internet connection whereas Wi-Fi delivers that connection to you.

Any internet problems, including speed issues, are usually the cause of a problematic Broadband connection rather than problematic Wi-Fi.

Unresponsive pages or failure to load images in those pages, buffering for too long while streaming, undelivered messages, broken video/audio connections during video calls are only some of the symptoms of a slow broadband connection.

What causes slow internet?

It’s often hard to pinpoint at one specific reason. The sure thing is that no gamer will ever forgive their faulty broadband connection for failing to load properly while they were battling to win, or a candidate who finds their job interview go wrong because the video couldn’t sync with the audio.

Here are some potential causes of slow broadband connections:

How can I increase my internet speed?

Apart from the obvious option which would be to invest in a more expensive, higher speed broadband package, there are a few things you can do to your existing connection to reduce latency and improve speed performance:

1) Switch Wi-Fi off and turn it back on from the router.

An oldie but still a goodie, especially when the connection gets stuck. If the issue persists, you can try restarting the router. Doing this will require some time for the router to reset and re-establish connection.

However, if the connection is still not restored on its own, there might be an internal issue with the ISP’s systems. If this is the case, you’d need to do what every impatient internet user would hate, and that is to wait until the problem has been sorted remotely.

2) Reposition your router

Wi-Fi signal can be weaker if the router is too far away from your smartphone or laptop. Although there is no need for it to be side by side with your mobile phone, ideally you’d want it to be in a central position within your home for a better speed performance and coverage.

3) Use an Ethernet Cable

If you are still struggling with the Wi-Fi signal, you can opt for a wired connection to connect your laptop with the router.

Depending on where your router is located inside your home, you would need to have a long enough ethernet cable to be able to reach it. Alternatively, you could consider using powerline adapters to spread the signal throughout your home.

4) Limit the devices connected to your router

Speed has to be shared when gadgets are connected to the same router. Sometimes it is not distributed evenly across all of them, causing fluctuations.

5) Check for any bandwidth hogs

If you find that your mobile phone is flying sky high in terms of internet speed but your laptop’s connection can hardly load a Google page, there might be a program that is eating up a large amount of bandwidth.

To find our if that's the case, you can do the following:

For Microsoft Windows

1) Press Windows - X, and select Task Manager.

2) Click More Details at the bottom of the window to expand the list.

3) Click Processes to view the Network tab.

4) Highlight the app that uses the most Mpbs, right click and then select End Task if you no longer need it to be running in the background.

For Mac iOS:

1) Click Cmd+Space to launch Spotlight.

2) Type “Activity Monitor” and hit Enter.

3) Once the window opens, you can see all the running apps.

4) Click on the Network tab to view the bandwidth that each app consumes.

5) Find the app that uses the most Mpbs from the list and click the X icon in the top left of the Activity Monitor window to kill it.

Some apps that might be overdoing it with the bandwidth usage might be Dropbox or any other online backup programs uploading a large number of files.

Another example could be streaming apps such as Netflix or iPlayer, or even software updates.

6) Check for any viruses

Malware can be a killer not just for your laptop or your smartphone’s operating system, but for your internet speed as well.

Investing in a good antivirus program could help do the trick (and keep you better protected).

7) Router Security

It might be unlikely but not impossible that your Wi-Fi password has been leaked, allowing unauthorised access.

You can try changing your password just to make sure that you and other members of your household are the only one(s) using your broadband connection.

What internet speed do I need?

There are a few things to consider before deciding how much internet speed you really need as a cheaper broadband option may be enough for a single house/flat occupier who would have an internet connection just for him/herself.

When selecting your internet speed, you should consider the following:

ISPs usually provide theoretical speed ranges that they’d be able to offer you, and they are not always guaranteed.

If you experience speeds outside of the fixed Mbps range that you signed up for, normally much lower speeds, there might be an issue with the data transmission through the broadband connection. This sort of issue would need to be addressed and dealt with by the Provider directly.

Checking your internet speed

There are many online internet speed checker websites which allow you to run a quick internet speed test. Some of the most popular ones are:

TIP: Deactivate your VPN before running the test so that you get more accurate results.
Once the test has been completed, you will see two different speed rates. One is for the Download Speed and the other is for the Upload Speed.

What is Download speed used for?

Download speed refers to the number of Mega Bytes per second is needed for downloading data from the server to your laptop or mobile phone.

That data can be images, videos, text files and audio. A good download speed should be at least 25Mbps and above.

What is Upload speed used for?

Contrary to download speed, upload speed refers to the number of Mega Bytes per second that it takes to upload data on another device or to an internet server.

For example, whenever data has to travel away from your laptop or smartphone (e.g. when you send an email or when you make a video call on Zoom), you would need to use upload speed. A good upload speed would be 3Mbps and above, however if you work from home regularly, it would need to be higher.

It’s important to know that every time you run a speed test online, the speed that the checker will record will be slightly lower than what you’d normally expect. If you are streaming videos while running it, it will be even lower.

Almost all mobile phones have a built in Wi-Fi technology nowadays. Although newer may not necessarily mean better, both new and slightly older gadgets are worth protecting.

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You can also check out our gadget insurance page to find out more about your cover options.

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