"How fast is my broadband?" It's a question many of us have asked, and finding out what broadband speed you can get is relatively easy.
For many people, broadband connection speed is the deciding factor when choosing a broadband package. After all, everyone wants to know what broadband speed they can get.
Ease of browsing, quick downloads, smooth video streaming and efficient use of media-rich websites such as YouTube and Facebook have become standard requirements for nearly all internet users, which means that it's now more important than ever to ensure you get the connection speed you need.
As homes become more connected in more ways, the demands on your broadband could change and evolve over time. Households are using more and more technology every day, from online gaming consoles to internet-connected devices such as smart TVs, voice-controlled assistants and smart meters.
How fast is my broadband?
Just because broadband providers advertise average speeds doesn't mean you're actually getting that speed. Speed tests are useful since many customers don't know what speed they are currently experiencing and therefore don't know what 8Mbps, 50Mbps or even 120Mbps actually mean in practical terms.
You can test the speed of your broadband connection with our uSwitch broadband speed test, which can make a more informed decision when you come to compare broadband speeds and packages ahead of signing up.
In order to get the most accurate reading, you should close all other programs, web pages 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 moving your router, or even changing the channels or broadcast type of your router. If you're feeling particularly ambitious, you can even forward your router’s ports — this works very well for programmes, games and utilities, but it can't be done for internet browsers like Internet Explorer or FireFox.
What’s the broadband speed in my area?
Within the UK, broadband speeds currently range from 8Mbps to over 1Gbps, although the higher speeds aren't available everywhere, or with every provider, just yet. The speed of broadband that you can get depends mainly on where you live.
Do you have access to cable or fibre broadband? Although superfast broadband is available to nearly 96% of the country, some people are still unable to get these speeds and will be limited to ADSL broadband.
Are you in a rural or urban area? Broadband is consistently faster in cities and larger towns, regardless of connection type.
How far are you from the telephone exchange? 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.
What broadband speed do I need?
This depends on your broadband needs. For those of us that use the internet for streaming content, a decent broadband speed makes life much easier.
A good broadband speed for streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and BBC iPlayer is 1.5 Mbps and above for SD streaming, and 2.8 Mbps and above for HD streaming. However, this is just for one device — if you live with other people or run multiple devices at the same time, your household’s usage will quickly add up.
How to find the best broadband in your area
To find the best broadband in your area, first, enter your postcode in our broadband deals comparison page. If you’re looking to get a faster connection, or simply a better broadband deal for the same speed, the more information you have at hand before you compare prices, the better.
Why is my internet so slow?
There are a few main reasons why your internet is slow, the most common being problems with your router, poor Wi-Fi signal, or too many devices running on a slower broadband connection. Be sure to check the following if you’re struggling with slow internet:
The position of your Wi-Fi router — Is your Wi-Fi signal being blocked by furniture, cupboards or walls? Try moving your router to a more open, central location within your home.
The condition of your router — Is your current router up to scratch?? If it’s old or damaged the signal may be compromised.
The speed of your broadband package — Check your broadband speed to see if it’s sufficient to keep up with your household needs. If anyone in your house works from home, downloads large files or plays games online, that’s likely to put a strain on slower broadband packages.
Why is my broadband connection slower in the evenings?
This depends on the type of broadband you're using. 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 what's known as the contention ratio, which is the number of people using the area's telephone exchange compared to the coping capacity the exchange has for those connections.
Most people using broadband in their homes use their computers in the evening, so connections tend to be a lot slower at these peak hours (i.e. 8pm to 10pm). The best time to use broadband is between 12am and 8am when most people are sleeping.
Fibre broadband using fibre to the premises (FTTP) technology is unaffected by distance from the exchange since the fibre connection goes directly to your building or home.
Not everyone has access to FTTP fibre, though — many users are still on fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) technology, which is still affected by your location and how far away you are from the "cabinet" on your street, but location affects cable connections less than ADSL connections. While both cable options are more consistent alternatives to ADSL, they are still impacted by the number of people using the service at peak periods.