Test your broadband speed with Uswitch
About your broadband
What people ask
What is my broadband speed?
The Uswitch Broadband Speed Test is a free service that tells you your current internet speed in seconds. It can measure speeds for all types of broadband, including copper ADSL, fibre-optic, cable and mobile broadband, plus your mobile data speed if you’re out and about.
We’re always updating our broadband speed checker to be as accurate as possible, but you should know that the speed test results only represent a snapshot of your broadband connection at the time of testing. Your first results should not be seen as a full measure of your broadband’s overall performance, so you might want to test it a few times at different points in the day to get a better overall reading.
However, the results can come in useful if you’re complaining to your provider about your speed, thanks to Ofcom’s Voluntary Code of Practice on Broadband Speed which sets out a minimum continuous speed providers have to supply.
You can also use the results to compare your broadband speed with other broadband deals that are available in your area. If you run a Wi-Fi speed test and find that your postcode can get much faster internet speeds, you might be able to improve your connection for a slightly — and very reasonably — higher monthly cost.
How does the Uswitch broadband speed checker work?
When you run the Uswitch internet speed test, our tool will measure your broadband speed by downloading and uploading tiny bits of data, which are then sent to our UK servers.
How long it takes for those bits of data to reach our servers gives us a measure of the overall time it takes for them to be sent and then received by your device. This, therefore, allows us to accurately assess the speed of your broadband connection, but only in that particular moment.
You can read more about how our internet speed test works in our technical specifications FAQ further down the page.
What does my speed actually mean?
Let’s suppose you’ve tested your broadband and you’ve got a speed of 40Mbps. That’s not bad. But what does that actually allow you to do? How fast can you download movies, albums or files?
‘Mbps’ stands for ‘megabits per second’ — it’s the most common measurement used for broadband speeds. It refers to how many ‘megabits’ of data can be transferred to or from your device every second.
You may have heard of ‘megabytes’ (MB) before — this is the format used to describe how large a computer file or programme is. ‘Gigabytes’ (GB) and ‘Terabytes’ (TB) are other common examples. A ‘bit’ is eight times smaller than a ‘byte’.
Learn more about the difference between bits and bytes with our dedicated guide.
When you see an internet speed of 40Mbps, that means about 5MB (one-eighth of that) will be transferred each second. So if you were downloading an HD movie with a 1500MB (1.5GB) file size, it should finish downloading in about five minutes.
If you have a much slower internet speed of 10Mbps, it would take four times as long to download at 20 minutes. However, if you have an ultrafast broadband speed of 400Mbps, it would barely take 30 seconds.
Learn more about internet speeds, and find out how long it should take you to download other file types, with our broadband download speed calculator.
How can I get accurate results when I check my broadband speed?
To get the most accurate result when you run a speed test, you should follow these simple steps beforehand:
- Stop any downloads: Make sure you are not downloading anything on another device at the same time.
- Close your apps: Shut down any software that constantly uses the internet (e.g. Alexa, Spotify, Netflix or other smart TV services).
- Turn off other devices: Disconnect any other computers, tablets, smartphones and games consoles that are sharing your wireless network (if you’re able to).
- Check everything is installed correctly: Ensure all broadband cables are properly and securely connected.
- Stay close to your router: With wireless routers, make sure you are as close to your wireless router as possible, and make sure there are no large objects that could block the signal to your device.
- Turn off / move other electricals: Electronic devices such as microwaves, wireless doorbells, baby monitors, bug zappers and even electric blankets can affect the signal strength, so ensure they’re far away enough from the router or switch them off.
- Stay still: 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 4G or 5G coverage while the test is in progress.
Why is my broadband connection so slow?
If you’ve disconnected and double-checked all of the things that could affect your test result, but your broadband speed still seems unusually slow, you should do a final check of your device.
Ensure all cables and routers are connected properly and that your wireless passwords are correct.
If nothing seems to be wrong with your device, contact your current broadband provider for advice. There may be a fault on your line, problems with your equipment, or there could be a temporary fault with the service.
If your broadband provider cannot help you to resolve your slow broadband issues, it might be time to compare broadband deals from other providers.
Take a look at our guide to find out why your internet might be so slow.
How to complain about broadband speed
If your provider isn’t meeting your minimum speed guarantee, you can complain to it directly. If you have a minimum speed guarantee, your provider has 30 days to resolve the problem or else you can switch to another one without paying any early termination fees.
If you aren’t covered by Ofcom’s Voluntary Code of Practice on Broadband Speed — which protects all contracts started on or after 1 March 2019 — or if your provider hasn’t opted in, then you should still complain to your provider.
After that, if they haven’t resolved the issue to your satisfaction, you can escalate the complaint with the ombudsman.
Which broadband provider is fastest?
The fastest broadband provider in your area depends on where you live, and which networks are available to your home.
For many, Virgin Media is the UK’s fastest home broadband service, thanks to its nationwide ultrafast broadband network that 52% of the country has access to. It also recently finished upgrading its entire network to gigabit speeds, allowing it to provide some of the fastest possible speeds to UK households right now.
However, it might run into some competition soon. With full fibre networks rapidly growing, many homes can now access gigabit connections that offer speeds up to 1Gbps (1000Mbps). This is the fastest type of broadband available, with a nationwide coverage of roughly 28%.
Learn more about gigabit broadband with our guide.
How does distance affect speeds?
If you’re signed up to a cheap broadband deal or a standard copper ADSL broadband service, your home’s location could dramatically affect 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, the weaker the signal and the slower the service will be.
Fibre-optic broadband services are less affected by your home’s location. However, that’s not to say that it’s not still a major factor in the speeds that customers can expect.
Fibre is a much more efficient way of delivering broadband than copper wires, so there’s virtually no loss of signal strength or speed during this part of your broadband’s journey to your home.
However, for standard fibre connections that most homes can get, a copper wire is still used to carry your broadband signal from the telephone cabinet into your property. 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 full fibre, or ‘fibre-to-the-premises’ (FTTP) service (such as BT and Sky’s Ultrafast packages, or a bespoke provider like Hyperoptic or Gigaclear), 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 cables for the whole journey to your home. At no point are copper wires used.
How far am I from my broadband exchange?
So you can see how your home’s location may impact your broadband service, our Wi-Fi speed test shows you how far you are from your exchange when you run it.
If you live in a new-build property with a new postcode, we might not have added it to our database yet. If so, we’re afraid we won’t be able to calculate how far your home is from your telephone exchange until we update our database.
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.
What is the Voluntary Code of Practice on Broadband Speed?
Ofcom’s Voluntary Code of Practice on Broadband Speed ensures that customers get more accurate speed estimates when they sign up by holding providers accountable to delivering those speeds.
When you move onto a new broadband deal, providers who have opted into the voluntary code of practice have to give you an estimated speed during peak times. This is a period when connections tend to slow down as more people are online, so it needs to provide you with a minimum speed guarantee to ensure your speed doesn’t drop to unacceptable levels.
If your provider isn’t meeting your minimum speed guarantee and you complain about it, they have 30 days to fix the issue or you can leave the contract, penalty-free.
Although the code of practice is voluntary, a number of major providers — including BT, Sky, Plusnet, TalkTalk and Virgin Media — have signed up. So if you have a broadband contract starting from 1 March 2019 or later, you are entitled to receive that minimum speed guarantee or else you can leave your contract and switch to a new provider.
It’s worth checking your current internet speed regularly to ensure your provider is meeting this minimum speed guarantee.
Why you should run an internet speed test when working from home
With many of us spending a lot of our time working from home, the speed and reliability of your broadband connection is more important than ever.
Running a Wi-Fi speed test will give you a much clearer idea of how much bandwidth you have and what the limitations of your connection might be. This is important for understanding what you are able to do for work, because your internet speed will affect how much work you can actually do.
We’re all aware of how frustrating it can be waiting for pages to load, videos to buffer and files to download. But if you’re running into those issues while working, it can be even more stressful. So it’s important to make sure your internet won’t hold you back during the workday.
For example, if your broadband speed test delivers results of 10Mbps or less, you’ll have to take more drastic measures to ration your household’s internet usage than if you had superfast speeds of 60Mbps or ultrafast speeds of 100Mbps or higher.
Running regular speed checks can also give you a clearer idea of the times of day when your broadband is performing at its best and worst. This will allow you to schedule bandwidth-heavy tasks, such as video calls and downloads, for when you’re likely to have the best broadband speed.
Download speed test
Our broadband speed checker downloads packets of data over an HTTPS connection and measures the time 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 speed test.
For example, on a slower connection the speed test might choose a payload size of 2MB, but on a faster connection it may select one of 10MB. 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, which provides 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.
Upload speed test
Our internet speed test submits packets of data over an HTTPS 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 — 1000Mbps (1Gbps).
It works with the UK’s fastest broadband services, including Virgin Media, BT and fibre broadband products from the likes of TalkTalk and Sky.