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What affects your broadband speed

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This guide explains how different factors affect your broadband speed, from your local cabinet to your devices. Choose an option below for more information.

 

View this video with British Sign Language.


The stabilisation period 

If you're new to TalkTalk or you've just upgraded to Fibre, your line will go through something we call the stabilisation period. This is when we monitor and tweak your speed to make sure you get a stable broadband connection in the long term. 

It usually lasts for around 10 days and it's normal to experience varying speeds and occasional drops in your connection during this time.

Please bear with us and keep your router switched on. This helps us gather information about your line so we can give you the best service possible.

 

Distance from the telephone exchange

Your broadband is sent through your phone line from the telephone exchange via your local cabinet. If you live far away from the telephone exchange, your broadband has to travel further to reach you, which means it's more likely to run into disruptions along the way.

 

Your local cabinet

Your phone line doesn't usually run in a direct line to your house, it goes through your local cabinet. This is the green metal box on or near your street. Your local cabinet acts as a broadband distribution point: where the phone line splits off to each house in the area. Living close to the cabinet can improve your broadband speed.

 

Phone line faults

If the phone line in your area has been damaged, this can cause problems with your broadband speed. You'll know this is the case if you're having problems with your phone- like noise on the line or no dial tone.

 

Bad weather

Heavy rain, flooding and snow can all damage cables and cause short circuits. Damage like this can slow your connection down or cut it out completely.

 

Peak times

When lots of people are online at the same time it causes internet congestion and websites may take longer to load. It's worth keeping in mind that you might not get full speeds during "Internet Rush Hour" - usually between 6pm and 9pm.

 

Busy websites

If a website is particularly busy, then you might find it loads slower than usual. There’s not much we can do about this except recommend that you keep trying or try again later. You might also find that loading times for websites vary depending on where the site is hosted. A website hosted in the USA, for example, will take longer to load than a website hosted in the UK.


Your master socket

If your router is connected to an extension sockets instead of your master socket, you'll likely get slower broadband speeds. This is because your master socket is the point where the phone line enters your home, whereas all other sockets are connected to your master socket with extension wiring which isn't built for carrying broadband signals.

 

Extensions

If you want to move your router and must use an extension, you should avoid using standard telephone extension cables. They aren't designed to carry broadband signals and will likely slow your broadband down. Use a longer Ethernet cable or an ADSL extension cable instead. You should only use the cables we supplied with your router, as they're the optimal length and made with the best quality materials.

 

Microfilters

These prevent your phone signal from interfering with your broadband signal and vice versa. In the case of your broadband, this interference can make your connection intermittent or slow. In the case of your phone, this interference can create noise on your line and generally disrupt your call quality.

If your master socket is a standard socket you should have a microfilter installed in every standard phone socket you are using around your home. This should be the first thing you plug in before you plug in anything else.

 

Your building

In theory, Wi-Fi signals are capable of passing through walls and other obstacles easily. However in reality, materials like brick, plaster, cement, metal, stone, and double-glazed glass can block some of the signals. Some newer homes may even have plasterboard walls that are backed with aluminium foil, which acts as a barrier to Wi-Fi signals.

 

Household objects

Some common household objects can interfere with your Wi-Fi connection:

  • Electrical appliances – they often transmit their own signals that can interfere with your Wi-Fi.
  • Bluetooth devices – they operate on the same Wi-Fi frequency as your broadband, which can cause signal problems.
  • Mirrors – they actually reflect Wi-Fi signals, stopping them from passing through walls and reflecting them back into the room.
  • Anything containing large amounts of water – things like fish tanks and boilers can absorb Wi-Fi signals like a sponge.
  • Large metal objects – radiators, for instance, will have the same effect on your Wi-Fi as mirrors.

We recommend that you keep your router in an elevated position, free from any surrounding objects. You should also bear in mind that the larger your house, the less likely it is that you'll get a strong Wi-Fi signal in every room. You can use wireless powerline adapters to boost your signal in any rooms that have Wi-Fi weak spots.


Router age and software updates

Even if you're getting higher speeds through your phone line, an older router (or a router that needs a software update) might struggle to keep up. If your router is very old, you might want to upgrade to a newer model. Our newer routers automatically update their own software to ensure the best possible connection.

 

Device limitations

When a device gets older, it might struggle to run modern software and apps. This means that any task it performs will feel slow – regardless of your broadband speed. If your connection is slow on a particularly old device, it might be time for an upgrade.

 

Viruses and spyware

Spyware slows your computer down by consuming its resources while viruses can eat up your connection by performing repetitive tasks like sending countless emails to spread itself, leaving little computing power for much else. You should install a good security suite that can protect your computer and clean it if it becomes infected.

 

Software and apps

Running software and applications in the background will have an effect on all the tasks your device performs, including those using the internet. Large applications like games that take up a lot of memory are the worst offenders. Virus checkers and internet security suites can also cause some older computers to slow. However, we don’t recommend closing those as you'll be vulnerable to viruses and spyware.

 

Connection type

Although it’s not always convenient, a wired connection is faster and more stable than a wireless connection. If you want faster speeds, try connecting to your router with an  Ethernet cable.

 

Sharing your connection

If lots of people in your household are using the internet at the same time, your speed on each device is going to be slower. That’s because your total broadband speed is shared amongst each device that’s using the connection. Tasks like downloading, streaming or online gaming can also take a heavy toll. It’s best not to do all these at the same time if you want to get the most from your speed.


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