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Is the problem actually slow internet or just slow WiFi?
That’s the first question to answer in order to diagnose a slow internet issue.
A slow internet connection is undeniably frustrating, a hassle and particularly for businesses, can be costly. However, taking a minute to first establish where the root of the issue lies could save you a lot of wasted time and effort.
Checking internet speed
If you’re experiencing slow internet speeds, the first thing to check is the speed of your connection when it enters your premises.
Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) will normally tell you what speed to expect. This is usually an ‘up to’ figure, so your actual connection speed is likely to be less than the maximum advertised for your specific broadband/fibre package.
When an internet-enabled device (e.g. laptop) is connected to your router or network via a cable you should get close to your full available internet speed.
If you’re still experiencing a slow internet connection whilst cabled in, try a few different devices. You need to rule out the possibility that the issue is related to a certain device or devices.
If all devices are slow when cabled in you need to test your internet speed:
- Connect a laptop, desktop computer or other similar internet device to your router with a network cable.
- Go to a speed testing website (Which? provide a good free one that’s simple to use) and run the test.
- The test will show your download speed in Mbps* – this is what you are actually achieving via your broadband connection.
If the test shows your wired connection is much slower than your ISP’s advertised speed you need to contact them so they can fault-find the problem.
However, if you are getting the full speed when directly connected to your router via a network cable, there’s no point contacting your ISP. Your slow internet is actually slow WiFi so there’s little they can do to improve it.
*Connection speeds: Mbps or MBps? ISPs advertise connection speeds in Mbps or Mb – Megabits per second. This shouldn’t be confused with MBps – Megabytes per second; or MB – Megabytes. A Megabit is 1/8 the size of a Megabyte, meaning that to download 1 MB of data in 1 second you would need a connection of 8 Mbps. Typical broadband speeds are 10Mbps for a basic connection and up to 70 Mbps for a fast fibre to the cabinet connection.
Checking WiFi internet speed
If the internet speed when it enters your premises is not the issue, you are probably suffering from slow WiFi. You can do a simple check to find out if this is the case.
Test the internet speed on the same device (a) connected to your router with a cable and then (b) remove the cable and use it via wireless. If it’s slower on the wireless connection then your WiFi is the cause of your slow internet experience.
Why your WiFi internet connection may be slow
It is very common for wireless internet speeds to be much slower than cabled internet speeds. This is because WiFi is a radio signal which degrades over distance and when faced with obstacles and/or interference.
The further away you are from your router, the weaker the wireless signal and therefore the slower and less reliable the internet connection. There are also many other factors that will result in a slow internet connection from your WiFi. Building construction is a big one. If you’re in an old building with particularly thick and/or dense walls for example. Or if there is metal in the floor/walls, e.g. RSJs, electric underfloor heating or reinforcing in concrete.
On top of this, the number of devices connected and what is actually being downloaded/streamed at the time can also impact wireless connection speeds. Standard wireless routers can normally only cope with a few wireless devices connected at once. The more you add, the slower the experience.
The objects within your building can also have a bearing. For example if you have a very solid object like a safe, it’s likely this will block the WiFi signal completely if it’s between you and your wireless router. Even everyday items like mirrors can act as a blocker to wireless signals.
Other devices and appliances can also cause interference that may impact your WiFi. For example a microwave oven running, wireless doorbells and WiFi alarm systems with sensors.
What can I do about slow WiFi?
Slow WiFi is a very common problem. This is largely because most home users, and many business users, rely on the wireless signal from the free router provided by their ISP. This isn’t usually strong enough to cope with modern WiFi demands, even in smaller homes or offices.
There are a number of options to choose from to remedy a slow internet connection from your WiFi.
- You can buy off the shelf products like boosters, extenders and repeaters.
- You could try upgrading your router to a more powerful one.
- In addition there are now more sophisticated ‘mesh’ wireless systems on the market. These are more expensive, but in the right circumstances are much more effective.
(See our WiFi comparison table for a simple way to compare these options at-a-glance.)
The drawback of these solutions tends to be that they rely on wireless alone to convey the WiFi signal. As previously mentioned, this can be an issue if your building construction and/or contents aren’t WiFi-friendly. And most premises, whether residential or business, are less WiFi-friendly than you might think.
A better solution for WiFi-related slow internet connections
The most reliable way to fully utilise the internet speed coming into your premises on your wireless devices, is to fit a network of wireless access points.
They can be fitted wherever you need them to broadcast a strong wireless signal on a single, seamless WiFi network.
To get the best WiFi speeds they should be connected to your router via CAT6 ethernet cable.
Here to help with slow, unreliable WiFi
If you’re experiencing slow internet connection speeds and you’re in the Bristol, Bath, Trowbridge and Chippenham area, contact us today for help and advice. We help you diagnose slow internet issues and provide fast, reliable WiFi solutions, whether you’re a business or domestic WiFi user.