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Broadband Speed test

  • Find out your download and upload speeds in seconds
  • Learn about speed stats in your area
  • Switch to the fastest provider in your area

Results on a mobile phone or tablet may not be 100% accurate. For the most accurate results the speed test should be run on a desktop PC or laptop.

What is the speed test?

The uSwitch Broadband Speed Test is a free-to-use service that analyses your broadband speed in seconds. It can measure speeds on a range of broadband connection types, including ADSL broadband, cable/fibre-optic broadband and mobile broadband.

Although we strive to ensure our broadband speed checker is as accurate as possible, please be aware that the speed test results only represent a snapshot of your broadband connection at the time of testing. They should not be seen as a conclusive measure of your broadband connection’s general performance.

Factors that may affect the accuracy of your broadband speed measurement include:

  • Downloads - Make sure you are not downloading anything on your computer. This can adversely affect average speeds during the test
  • Wireless routers – Wireless broadband data needs to travel through the air. Thick walls may adversely affect your broadband speed because they’re harder for the signal to pass through. The distance of your computer from the router also affects connection quality.
  • Data-heavy programs - Shut down any software that frequently accesses the internet during the test (e.g. web radio, RSS feeds or TV on-demand services).
  • Concurrent users – Turn off other devices using your wireless or fixed line network during the test. Multiple connections to a single router can adversely affect broadband speeds.
  • Network coverage – With mobile internet connections, being on the move can affect the quality of your broadband connection. Mobile broadband speeds are more accurately measured on a computer at a static location.
  • Broadband network congestion / time of day – Many broadband providers suffer from traffic congestion at the busiest times of day (usually 8pm to 10pm). Speeds suffer during these periods due to the sheer amount of consumers who are online.
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How does the internet speed test work?

When you start the speed test, our StreetStats tool checks your broadband speed by downloading and uploading dummy "packets" of data sent to our UK servers via "pings".

These pings are a measure of the round-trip time it takes for these packets to be sent and subsequently received by your computer, allowing us to accurately assess the speed of your broadband connection.

You can read more about how our speed test works in our 'technical specifications' FAQ below.

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How can I ensure I get accurate results?

To get the most accurate possible broadband speed test result, follow these simple steps:

  • Make sure you are not downloading anything on your PC / laptop.
  • Shut down any software that uses the internet (e.g. web radio, RSS news feeds or TV services).
  • Turn off any other computers, tablets, smartphones and games consoles that are sharing your wireless network.
  • Ensure all broadband cables are properly and securely connected.
  • With wireless routers, make sure you are as close to your wireless router as possible. Ideally you’ll be less than 10 metres away.
  • Make sure there are no large objects between your computer and wireless router.
  • Electronic devices such as microwaves, wireless doorbells, baby monitors, bug zappers and even electric blankets can affect the signal strength, so switch them all off.
  • If you’re testing mobile broadband on the move (with a mobile internet dongle or laptop / netbook with mobile internet built-in), make sure you’re stationary and have a signal. The result will be compromised if you go out of range of 3G coverage while the test is in progress.
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Why is my broadband connection so slow?

If you’ve double-checked everything in the How to Get Accurate Results section and your broadband speed still seems unusually fast or slow, do a final check of your device.

Simply ensure all cables and routers are connected properly and that your wireless passwords are correct.

If nothing seems to be wrong on a device-level and your broadband speed is still not satisfactory, contact your current broadband provider for advice. There may be a fault on your line, problems with your set-up, or there could be a temporary fault with the service.

If your broadband supplier cannot help you to resolve your slow broadband issues, it might be time to switch provider!

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Which broadband provider is fastest?

The most recent uSwitch Broadband Awards were held in 2016. Using internet speed tests carried out on in 2015, we named Virgin Media the UK's fastest home broadband service across the UK, thanks to its fibre to the premises (FTTP) technology. EE was named the speediest for mobile broadband.

That being said, broadband speeds offered by all broadband providers fluctuate month on month. So for the most complete and most up-to-date picture of UK broadband speeds and those in your area, keep an eye on our speed test graphs and maps.

With technology varantly evolving to make broadband faster and ISPs offering speeds well in excess of 100Mbps, we at uSwitch pride ourselves on keeping abreast of the latest developments and using our expertise to help you make an informed buying decision.

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Why do my results differ from other speed tests?

If you’ve tried another speed test and got a different result to ours, there are a number of possible explanations.

One is that the conditions under which the tests were conducted were not the same. The time of day and the amount of traffic being handled by your broadband supplier when the test was being conducted can hugely affect the result. The device you’re using can also have an effect, as does any programs or apps you might have running at the time and your distance from your wireless router.

With that in mind, if you’re comparing test results it’s crucial that you carry out tests at the same time of day, with the same device and at the same distance from your router. The best way to ensure you’re running the same programs is by turning them all off except for the browser you’re using.

Speed test discrepancies could also be explained by the fact that different speed tests use different technology to measure your speed. Some providers tailor their service so that it performs well on certain sites’ speed tests, but that usually means it’ll perform less impressively on other broadband speed checkers.

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What does my speed actually mean?

Let’s suppose you’ve got done you’ve tested your broadband and you’ve got a speed of 20Mbps.

That’s not bad. But what does that actually allow you to do? How fast can you download movies or albums? Read on to get some idea of what your broadband speed actually means for your day-to-day internet usage.

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Technical specifications

Technical specifications of download test

Our speed test downloads packets of data over an HTTP connection and measures the time in which the transfers take, in order to work out a download speed in Mbps (Megabits per second).

A small initial file is downloaded in order to gauge an approximate speed of the connection. Based on this result, the speed test selects a larger file to perform the main download test.

For example, on a slower connection the speed test might choose a payload of 2Mbps, but on a faster connection it may select one of 10Mbps. This enables the speed test to scale and accurately measure all types of connection, from slow ADSL to very fast fibre-optic connections.

Additionally, the test simultaneously requests multiple files to download at once. This causes the user's bandwidth to be saturated, providing an accurate picture of their download speed capacity.

For this reason, we suggest that users turn off wireless connectivity for any other devices, as well as not running any data-heavy programs at the time of the test, in order to receive the most accurate results for your line's speed.

Technical specifications of upload test

Our internet speed test submits packets of data over an HTTP POST connection and times how long the transfers take, in order to work out an upload speed in Mbps.

The test submits multiple packets at the same time. This causes the user's bandwidth to be saturated, providing an accurate picture of their upload speed capacity.

What is the speed test’s capacity?

The speed test has been built to test broadband download speeds up to - and above - 100Mbps.

It works with the UK's fastest broadband services, including Virgin Media, BT Infinity and fibre broadband products from the likes of TalkTalk and Sky.

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How does distance affect speeds?

How much distance affects your broadband speed depends on the type of home broadband you use.

If you’re signed up to a standard ADSL broadband service, your home’s location dramatically affects your broadband speed. Or to be more specific, your speed is affected by how far you live from your nearest telephone exchange.

This is because ADSL broadband is delivered from the telephone exchange to your home along copper wires. The further your broadband signal has to travel along those copper wires that bring it to your house, the weaker the signal and the slower the service you’ll get.

Fibre services are much less affected by your home’s location. However, that’s not to say that they’re not still a major factor in the speeds that customers can expect.

This is certainly the case with ‘fibre to the cabinet’ (FTTC) broadband, which covers most BT Infinity products, as well as TalkTalk and Sky’s fibre service.

With FTTC broadband, fibre optic cables deliver broadband to the telephone cabinet on your street. Fibre is a much more efficient way of delivering broadband than copper wires, so there’s negligible loss of signal strength or speed during this part of your broadband’s journey to your home.

However, with FTTC copper wire is still used to carry your broadband signal from the telephone cabinet into your home. And it’s in this part of the journey that your speed can be affected.

If you’re lucky enough to be signed up to a fibre to the premises (FTTP) broadband service (such as those from Virgin Media’s fibre products and BT Infinity in select locations), the speed of your broadband isn’t at all affected by your home’s distance from the exchange.

This is because as the phrase ‘to the premises’ suggests, FTTP broadband uses fibre optic for the whole journey to your home. At no point are copper wires used.

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Why is distance from exchange not available?

So you can see how your home’s location may impact on your broadband service, we show you how you far you are from your exchange when you take our speed test.

If you live in a new-build property with a newly issued postcode that’s we haven’t yet added to our database, however, we’re afraid we won’t be able to calculate how far your home is from your telephone exchange.

We’ll still show you your broadband speed and outline the full range of providers available in your area, though. So you’ll have the most important information you need to make the right buying decision.

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Broadband speed news