What Affects ADSL Broadband Speed?

Over 75% of the population have fixed line broadband, and considering the demographics of the country this is an impressive rate. It is though surprising how few of us actually understand how broadband works, what its limitations are, and what the options are. This article will look at the different factors that affect ADSL broadband and help you understand what the technology is and how it works.

An Instruction to ADSL Broadband
I check broadband speed regularly because I am on ADSL broadband. ADSL broadband is transferred over the telephone network which is made of copper wires interlinked with exchanges. The telephone exchanges are dotted around the country.

Why ADSL is a poor internet carrier
The telephone cables themselves were designed not for broadband but, as the name implies, for telephone signals. They are therefore very good at transferring voice data and we tend to get good reception for this task. However, when it comes to internet broadband, the cables are found somewhat wanting. The reason for this is that there is a lot more data that needs to be sent with broadband especially when we are looking for high broadband activities such as streaming movies, listening to radio, and online gaming. The cables simply arent up to the task of carrying really fast broadband.

New ADSL Technologies
When I checked broadband speed on my ADSL I get impressive results of over 20Mbps and 1Mbps upload speed. My ping is just 35milliseconds. You dont need to worry too much about the numbers only to understand that my connection is close to being a super fast broadband connection and wouldnt look massively out of place in some fibre optic broadband packages.

Generally is because Im only 200 meters from the telephone exchange. I walk past it every time I take my children to the park. Because I am so close, the speed doesnt degrade over the cables too much and so I am able to get close to my full connection potential.

As well as this, there are new technologies in ADSL which make broadband faster. It used to be the case that ADSL worked up to 8Mbps. Only a few providers now offer connections of this speed, including AOL. Nowadays, we tend to get up to 16 Mbps and up to 24Mbps depending on whether our connections are ADSL 2 or ADSL 2+.

Essentially, loop loop unbundled technology (LLU) means that the provider has installed equipment in the exchanges to dramatically improve the connections in the area. The providers have more control over the exchange and are able to, as a result of this and the increased bandwidth, offer a much better service.

It is a postcode lottery
It really is a postcode lottery what level of ADSL connectivity you can get. If youre miles and miles from a telephone exchange, and also suffer from an empty exchange without any providers with their equipment installed there, you are likely to get a very poor broadband connection. In fact, there are well over 150,000 homes in the UK that cant get ADSL connectivity of any decent level and end up without broadband internet.

Its a lottery with fibre optic broadband to a certain extent too. Only around 50% of the UK has access to the technology as the cables are still being run around. If the cables havent arrived at your location yet then you wont be able to get fibre optic broadband.

Faults on the ADSL Line
The ADSL lines i.e. the copper cables from time to time get damaged and this can cause faults on the line. There are also faults that can develop in the exchange and the best way to find out whether you have an external fault outside your home is to call your provider and have them do a line test. They will probably ask you to come off your landline and speak to you through your mobile, and they will test your line to see what level of connectivity you have and whether there are any problems.

Your Set-up
Your set-up can also have a massive impact on the speed of your ADSL. If you dont plug the router into your main telephone socket, if you dont have microfilters installed, and if you dont keep your router fairly close to the telephone line in terms of the amount of cable between the two, youll likely receive drops in performance.

If the wiring in your home is poor, you may well also get interference from electrical devices as the line will act as an antenna bringing distortion to your connection. Bell wire installed in your telephone line can also cause interference, and its well worth getting that removed or installing an iPlate or broadband accelerator.

Your router may also prove the bottleneck. If it can only manage 8Mbps connections then a 24Mbps connection will be pointless as the router will bottleneck it. You should also ensure that all your cables are connected properly and that they are of good quality. Dents and coils in your cables can also reduce the speed of your internet.

Wireless Issues
Most of us these days connect wirelessly, and if you are thinking ‘I need to check broadband speed then do so both wired and wirelessly to see where the issue is. When I check my own broadband speed, I tend to do it around the house wirelessly and also connected wired in at the router. This helps me understand whether any problems are wireless or with the set-up. I sometimes also take the front plate of the main telephone socket and plug my router in there to test the speed there.

Wireless problems can be caused by interference from other connections in your area, especially if you are in a built up area. When youre going to manage connections, if you see a lot of different network connection names then the likelihood is that you may well be receiving some interference from them.

Wireless devices can also cause issues and anything that transmits at around a 2.4 GHz range is likely to affect your connection, and it may even block your connection all together. I had that when my first child was born and I couldnt understand why it was until I realised the connection always dropped in the evening when we turn the baby monitor on.

Wireless signals are also impeded by physical materials. If you have dense walls and ceilings, as are found in older homes, its often the case that your wireless signals will struggle to penetrate and you may get lesser connections on the other side. Thats why its often recommended that you connect wirelessly within line of site of your router if possible.


After using an online ‘check broadband speed’ program, Sam Jones wanted to shop around to see if he could get a better deal. Price comparison sites were useful as it showcased all the offers making his choice really easy



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