October 3, 2019

Broadband Speed Guide

Broadband Speed Guide

Do you know what you’re paying for when it comes to broadband speeds? Our guide will help you understand what speeds you’re getting and why, and if anything can be to improve your internet connection.

 

Broadband speed is important, because the faster your internet is, the more you can do online. It also means more people can use the internet at the same time without affecting each other’s consumption.

However, the world of broadband speeds can be a confusing one. Many people don’t know what their broadband speed is or aren’t sure what the numbers mean when they compare broadband packages.

And if something goes wrong with your broadband, or it doesn’t seem to be as fast as promised, it can seem like a bit of swindle.

To get past these hurdles, it’s always good to know how broadband works, how to check your broadband speed, and why you don’t always get the mega-speeds promised.

 

Broadband speeds explained

Put simply, broadband speeds outline how fast data can come (downloads) and go (uploads) through your modem. Broadband speeds tend to be split between the download speed and upload speed because these are two different things: download measures the speed with which you can receive data over the internet, and upload speed means how fast your data can be uploaded.

It’s common to see a much higher download speed than upload speed. That’s because most people will spend most of their internet time consuming data by streaming movies, browsing social media, or downloading music, for example. The average person spends much less time uploading data by doing things like posting a photo on social media, backing up images, uploading video footage and so on.

Each broadband package will advertise a maximum speed, but it’s important to note that these are up to speeds* and yours may vary. You should be able to get an individual estimated broadband speed from a potential supplier.

How are broadband speeds measured?

Broadband speed is measured in megabits per second (Mbps), and the higher the number of megabits you can download per second, the faster the connection.

For instance, many broadband packages will offer speeds of up to 38Mbps*, with 76Mbps seen on some superfast fibre deals. It’s possible to get even higher speeds of up to 1,000Mbps.

*Note: broadband speeds are advertised as ‘up to’ because this means that 10% of people should be able to achieve these speeds.

What is a good internet speed?

A good internet speed is entirely dependent on how you use your broadband. What would be considered a good speed for a household of two people using the internet sparingly will be vastly different to the speed that a corporate environment of always active online users will require.

You need to consider your intended internet usage before you decide what a good internet speed is.

Your usage can be split into three types:

Light Use

Under 10 Mbps

These are similar speeds to what you get with a good ADSL line, but 100% more reliable.

Ideally suited to:

  • Two to three devices
  • Checking email
  • Browsing online (including social media)
  • Occasional media downloads (photos and music)
  • Occasional streaming on YouTube, etc.
  • Streaming for one user at a time

 

Medium Use

10 Mbps – 40 Mbps

This speed bracket will give you a better sense of what Fibre can do than you would at under 10 Mbps.

This speed bracket is suited to:

  • Three to five devices
  • Media-rich data downloads
  • HD Streaming
  • Working online in real time
  • Email
  • Browsing
  • Social Media
  • VoIP calls
  • Video chat

 

Heavy Use

50 Mbps – 100 Mbps

This is what Fibre is all about. The only thing faster is standing in front of someone and talking to them face-to-face, and even then, we’re not sure if this wouldn’t maybe be faster.

Ideally suited to:

  • Multiple data-intensive devices (as in a big company)
  • Media-rich data downloads at High Speeds
  • HD Streaming by multiple users
  • Working online in real time
  • Email
  • Browsing
  • Social Media
  • VoIP calls
  • Video chat with zero lag times by several users at once

 

 

How much data do I need?

Light Use

20 – 50 GB

This is a good option for your home if you have only one or two devices connected to the internet at any given time.

  • Send and receive emails
  • Browse news and social media
  • Upload and Download documents
  • View or upload photos and light media

 

Medium Use

50 – 200 GB

Ideal for moderate to significant internet usage, this is a good option for your home if your family is active online, or for a small business which is not actually working online.

  • Send and receive emails
  • Browse news and social media
  • Upload and Download documents
  • HD media downloads and uploads
  • Streaming
  • Gaming
  • Occasional VoIP calls

 

Heavy Use

200 – 2000 GB:

If you have numerous devices connected all the time which need to:

  • Send and receive emails
  • Browse news and social media
  • Upload and Download documents
  • Unlimited HD media downloads and uploads
  • Streaming multiple channels
  • Gaming non-stop
  • Frequent VoIP calls
  • Working in real time
  • Data-intensive applications

 

Intense Use

Uncapped

Give unlimited access to as many devices as you need to without ever worrying about running out of data.

  • Send and receive emails
  • Browse news and social media
  • Upload and Download documents
  • Unlimited HD media downloads and uploads
  • Streaming multiple channels
  • Gaming non-stop
  • Frequent VoIP calls
  • Working in real time
  • Data-intensive applications

 

How fast is my internet?

If you dig out the agreement with your current internet provider, you should see a speed quoted. It might tell you what speed your line can support and should outline a guaranteed minimum speed. It’s always good practice to make sure you test the speed of your broadband and check you’re receiving the speed that you’re paying for.

 

What affects my broadband speed?

There are several things that affect the speed of your broadband, and could be causing low internet speeds:

The type of connection

There are three main ways of connecting to the internet: Fibre-To-The-Home (FTTH) which is fairly rare and only available in certain places, Fibre-To-The-Cabinet (FTTC) which is the most common fibre-optic connection, and ADSL which uses the copper phone cables. ADSL connections may be cheaper, but they are less reliable and often come with slower speeds than fibre broadband.

Distance from the exchange

If you have ADSL broadband, being further away from the exchange means your connection becomes fainter and experiences ‘noise’. This isn’t an issue with fibre broadband.

Exchange contention ratio

There’s a limit to how many people can share an exchange if they have ADSL2+ broadband. Some ISPs will prioritise your bandwidth based on the package you buy, so customers with a more expensive package may be given priority over customers paying less.

Number of connections in your home

The more devices you have connected to the internet, the more of a drain this will be and can cause slow speeds. You can switch off devices you’re not using, or consider upgrading your broadband package, to speed it up.

Quality of cables and router

Old hardware can cause slow speeds, but many ISPs will replace or upgrade your router and cables for free as part of a package. The placement of your router is also important: the signal will lose strength if it must pass through walls.

Weather conditions

It’s unlikely a bit of rain will knock out the broadband, but storms will affect phone lines and freezing temperatures can affect underground cables.

Viruses/spyware/adware

Computer viruses and malware will slow down your computer and they can also slow down your internet connection. Download some anti-virus software (there are plenty of free ones) and perform regular scans to avoid this.

Time of day

Unsurprisingly, you’ll find more people on the internet during ‘peak’ hours: 6pm-11pm. Download speeds can be slower during these periods, so it may be better to download films or music during the day or in the dead of night. In the days of Netflix and Amazon Prime TV, this is less of a problem because everyone is streaming.

 

Looking to make the switch to broadband fibre?

Get in touch with salesgrp@nsn.co for more info.