For many people, the speed of the connection 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.
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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 8Mb, or indeed 50Mb, would mean 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 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
The speed of broadband that you can get depends mainly on where you live.
Are you in a rural or urban area? Broadband is consistently faster in urban areas.
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, 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 512Kb to 120Mb.
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) using fibre to the premises technology, such as Virgin Media's service, is unaffected by distance from the exchange.
Fibre to the cabinet technology, which is what BT's fibre 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, both are still impacted by the number of people using the service at peak periods.