Troubleshooting Common Broadband Internet Problems

From time to time, all of us have connection problems. Many of these can be simply resolved, but it is important to know where to look and to take a logical and practical approach to finding what the root cause is. If you haven’t had a broadband connection problem, and have a stable connection, superb; well done. If you have had a problem, or are having a problem, then read on and find out more about what you can do, and what you can ask your internet service provider to do to solve the issues.

Things you can’t control
If you are asking yourself what broadband speed can I get, then there are certain things that you cannot control in the answer to that question. The first is whether you can get fibre optic broadband or not.

Fibre optic broadband is the fastest type of broadband because the cables that transfer the data are designed to be able to carry it super-fast. With the copper cables of ADSL, you’ll lose speed over distance. If you can’t get fibre optic broadband in your area, then you’ll have to wait for it to arrive and you’ll be limited to connections that are somewhat slower. Fibre optic broadband has connections up to 100 megabits per second for residential consumers, and up to a gigabit per second for business customers. With ADSL, you are much more likely to get below 20 megabits per second. With standard ADSL, you may be left with around 5 megabits per second, or even less.

Distance from the exchange
If you’re in an area without fibre optic broadband and are left with adsl broadband connectivity, then the distance you are from your local telephone exchange will have a massive impact on the speed that you get. The speed will deteriorate as the internet travels further from the telephone exchange, and many rural areas can’t actually get any level of broadband through ADSL because of their distance from the telephone exchange.

Mobile broadband coverage If you are thinking what broadband speed can I get on my smartphone, then it may be the answer is, not a lot. You see, the level of mobile coverage you can get is again dictated by the infrastructure available to you. The telephone mast that provides the signal should be within a decent range. If it’s not, then you may only be able to get 2G connectivity.

Around 99% of the UK can get 3G connectivity, and around 50% can currently get 4G. By the end of 2013 or start of 2014, will likely to see around 90+% of the population getting 4G connectivity which will mean that you will be able to get connections speeds of 5 megabits per second plus, and up to a theoretical 15 megabits per second.

Things you can control
When you ask yourself what broadband speed can I get, then you are probably talking about the actual speed you can sped you can get, not the theoretical speed. With adsl 2+, the theoretical speed you could get is around 24 megabits per second or even a little bit more. However, the speed you receive on your device will be down to a number of factors.

One of the most important things is whether you connect wirelessly or wired through an Ethernet cable. If you connect wired, you are likely to get between 10% and 30% more speed than if you connect wirelessly. If you connect wirelessly a long way from your router, for instance upstairs in the bedroom, it may be that your connection speed is significantly slower than if you were to connect wired through the Ethernet cable.

The reason wireless connectivity is slower is because the passage of information degrades over distance, and also, is subject to interference and obstruction. Interference can be caused by other broadband connections in the area as the signals all are competing for the air space. Electronic interference can also cause problems with the passage of data and also with the router.

Obstructions come in the form of doors, walls, ceilings, book cases, furniture, and anything else that can get in the way of the signal. Older homes tend to have thicker walls and denser ceilings, and so it can be very difficult to get connectivity away from the router. It’s always best to connect within line of sight of the router where possible, but of course this isn’t always an option.

Wireless connectivity is so good because it provides flexibility and portability of your devices.

The setup of your connection
With many connections these days, you won’t have to do anything. The broadband provider will come in and install everything for you. Certainly this is the case with fibre optic broadband. However, with adsl, often you will get posted the router and be explained how to set it up. You’ll have to find your main telephone socket so that the broadband isn’t traveling unnecessarily down poor home telephone wiring. You’ll have to install micro filters and place the router at an appropriate spot.

The micro filters will split the lines so that the telephone devices don’t interfere with the broadband, and this is a very important step. If you have faulty micro-filters, it can cause a real issue. The wiring in your house if old and decrepit may also cause issues. The presence of Bell wire can cause electrical interference too. Make sure you follow the guidance to setup properly, and if necessary, install an iPlate to reduce interference to your line. Ensure that your wireless network is secured so that other people don’t jump on your connections knowingly or unknowingly and eat your broadband width.

Many people consider the best option when you have a fault is to turn your router off and turn it on. Although this can be done occasionally, you shouldn’t be in the habit of turning your router off as there are constant checks on your line to ensure that the stability is there. If you are turning your broadband router off and on, for instance, at night and in the morning, you’ll find that your connection speeds will likely decrease because the power off will be interpreted as instability.

The internet service provider automated systems will constantly check your line and train your line to ensure that you get decent speed, but also stability. If you’ll improve the stability on your line through a new router or an upgraded package, then you may be able to ask your internet service providers to retrain your line and find out the new top speed that you can achieve with stability.

Ask your provider about what broadband speed can I get
Perhaps the most important thing to do when you have an internet service problem is to speak to your provider. It may be that there is a fault at the exchange, or on the line, and that you have no control over solving the issues. They will then need to get an engineer to look at the problems. If you’re through ADSL and your service provider is not BT, then they will likely have to get BT Openreach to have a look into the issue, and so, it may take a bit longer. If you are with BT, then you’ll be dealing directly with the people that should be sorting the line.

Bear in mind that when there are faults on the line and it’s within your sphere, there may be charges. Ask your provider what broadband speed can I get? Then you can compare to what you are receiving.

Top tip Make sure that you compare different broadband providers in your area through a broadband comparison service such as that available on uSwicth. This will ensure that you really do answer the question, “What broadband speed can I get?” because you’ll see what speeds other people are getting in your area.

Sam Jones son had often wondered ‘What broadband speed can I get?’  The answer was right in front of him on sites such as uSwitch which he could search for the latest information.


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