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Broadband speed tests: How to assess your connection

If your broadband speeds have been dipping lately, you've noticed performance issues or you're just curious how fast your connection is, read our free guide to using speed tests. You can also call our switching service on 0800 542 4704 for advice on getting the fastest broadband in your area.

By on July 04, 2014 at 15:00 PM
Guides
Broadband
Broadband speed tests: How to assess your connection

Fed up with slow broadband? Call us free on 0800 542 4704 and switch to a faster service.

Important: The speed checker will measure results at your current location, so wait until you are home and connected to your home network before beginning to check your broadband speeds.

How the broadband speed test tool works

Broadband speed tests are a quick and easy way to find out if your service is giving you the speeds you signed up for. All it takes is the simple click of a button and the broadband speed checker will start testing your connection, by sending a request ('ping') to your server and measuring the time it takes to receive a response.

Understanding your broadband speed test results

Download speeds

When you download content from the web, for instance a music file or video clip, the speed at which you receive this information is measured in Megabits per second (Mbps). The higher your download speeds, the faster you can receive information.

Slow download speeds might impact your experience when streaming videos from BBC iPlayer, listening to music on Spotify or trying to download tracks from iTunes. You can pretty much forget streaming movies from services like Love Film to your PlayStation 3 or internet-enabled TV if your download speeds are very slow. Anything above 14.7Mbps is better than the current national average, and should allow you to perform most online tasks without interruption.

Upload speeds

Upload speeds are also measured in Mbps. They tell you how quickly you can send information to the internet, for example, when you add video clips to Facebook or the images to your blog or Twitter account. The faster your upload speeds, the quicker your content will appear online. Upload speeds are usually much slower than download speeds - anything above 2Mbps is acceptable on a standard broadband connection.

How did your broadband connection perform in the speed test?

Are your actual download and upload speeds slower than you were expecting and significantly lower than the 'up to' speeds that were advertised for your package? If this is impacting on your online experience and causing delays to content loading or download times, you may be paying over the odds for a service that isn't fast enough to meet your needs.

Things that can slow down your internet service

There are many factors that can cause your broadband to slow down. If you live far from your nearest telephone exchange, this is likely to make the performance worse. If you and your next door neighbour signed up to the same broadband deal for the same price, one of you might receive a faster connection and the other will have to put up with a slightly slower one, simply because one household is located closer to the exchange.

Your speeds may slow down significantly during peak hours. These are the times when a wave of internet users logs on to browse the web, for example right after work. Generally, your broadband is likely to be slower between 5pm and 10pm on a weekday. This rise in internet activity forces providers to slow down their overall download speeds in order to provide an equal service to all of their customers.

While there can be occasional drops in speeds due to service issues, if you take several speed tests on consecutive days and discover that your actual speeds are nowhere near what was advertised, it's time to call your provider and ask them to troubleshoot your connection.

Read our handy guide to learn how to speed up your broadband connection for free.

I am not happy with my broadband speeds - how do I switch providers?

The easiest way to get a better broadband deal is by calling a free, independent Switching Service. Simplifydigital's team of friendly Switching Support experts are available 7 days a week on 0800 542 4704.