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Broadband speeds

For many people, broadband connection speed is the deciding factor when choosing a broadband package.

Ease of surfing, quick downloads and efficient use of websites such as YouTube and Facebook have become standard requirements for nearly all internet users. All of which means that it's now more important than ever to ensure you get the connection speed you need.

In this guide, we focus on home broadband speeds. If you want to find out more about 3G or 4G mobile broadband and the kind of factors that affect your speed, head to our dedicated page

Compare the best broadband deals available in your area using the uSwitch broadband postcode checker.

How fast is my broadband?

Speed tests are useful, as many customers don't know what speed they are currently experiencing and therefore don't know what 8Mbps, or indeed 50Mbps or even 120Mbps, means in practical terms.

Test the speed of your broadband connection with our uSwitch broadband speed test to ensure you make a more informed decision when you come to compare broadband speeds and packages ahead of signing up for a new package.

In order to get an accurate reading, you should close all other programs, webpages and games before starting the speed test.

Can a connection be sped up without changing provider?

Yes. If you use a wireless connection, you can try changing the channels or broadcast type of your router. If you are feeling incredibly geeky, you can even forward the ports on your router.

This works very well for programs, games and utilities, but cannot be done for internet browsers like Internet Explorer or FireFox.

More information about broadband speed: What broadband speed can I get?

The speed of broadband that you can get depends mainly on where you live.

  • Are you in a cable or ADSL-only area? The fastest speeds are reserved for locations served with a cable network.

  • Are you in a rural or urban area? Broadband is consistently faster in cities and larger towns.

  • The distance of your house from the telephone exchange will also affect your speed. The closer you are, the faster your connection

To see an accurate approximation for your home, try our postcode checker, which scans your connection, analyses your broadband exchange and works out what broadband speeds you can get.

In general, with ADSL broadband (excluding fibre-optic broadband, cable broadband and mobile broadband via 3G or 4G), the closer you are to your BT exchange, the faster your broadband will be.

UK broadband speeds currently range from 512Kbps to 152Mbps.

We also rank fast broadband packages for your ease.

Why is my connection slower in the evenings?

ADSL broadband is a shared service. Therefore, the more people who are using it, the slower it will be.

The amount of people using a broadband connection in an area affects the “contention ratio”, which is the ratio of users to the BT area’s telephone exchange, and the coping capacity the exchange has for those connections.

Most home users use their computers in the evening, so connections tend to be a lot slower at these peak hours (i.e. 7pm to 10pm). The best time to use broadband is between 12am and 8am.

Cable broadband cable broadband (also known as fibre broadband, fibre optic broadband or fiber optic broadand) using fibre to the premises (FTTP) technology is unaffected by distance from the exchange.

The sole UK network that uses FTTP is owned by Virgin Media. It's for this reason that Virgin Media broadband is regarded by many people as the best around.

Fibre to the cabinet technology, which is what the BT fibre optic broadband service is based on, is still affected by your location but a lot less than ADSL. This makes both cable options a more consistent alternative. However, they are still impacted by the number of people using the service at peak periods.

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