Up your internet speed: How to get faster broadband

Slow broadband connection getting you down? Let it bug you no more. Joining the fast lane could be as simple as moving a few household objects.

A slow internet connection is enough to drive most of us to severe computer rage – from screaming at the screen to banging the computer.

The latest customer satisfaction survey by comparison site Broadbandchoices.co.uk found that overall speed satisfaction had fallen for the third year running.

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Speed frustration…and satisfaction

Speed frustration was highest in Dyfed in west Wales, Shropshire, and Clwyd in north Wales, where 45 per cent of respondents felt their broadband speed could be better.

Broadband speed satisfaction was highest in Gwent, south Wales, with 72 per cent satisfied, quickly followed by West Yorkshire and the West Midlands, both 71 per cent satisfied.

Michael Phillips, product director at Broadband Choices, said: “This is the third year that we have run our independent customer satisfaction survey and the results have been unequivocal in highlighting that broadband speeds are a major source of resentment for UK broadband customers.”

“Our 2011 customer survey indicates that speed satisfaction overall is down for the third year running. This is disappointing considering providers continue to market their services on speed-led messaging.”

But before you pick up the phone to give your broadband provider an ear-bashing, there is a simple solution at hand. Follow our guide to maximising your speed and your problem may be sorted more easily than you expect.

Speed solutions

Test your speed

This will measure the speed at which your broadband connection is running and allow you to see what difference the following suggestions make to your speed.

Secure your network

If you have wireless broadband, securing your network is a must. If you don’t, unauthorised users can share your connection which can affect your connection speed, your download allowance and pose a serious security risk as well.

Reposition your router

The position of your router can have a significant effect on the quality of your wireless connection. Place it in an area where the signal will be affected by as few obstructions and little interference as possible – positioning your router near the ceiling, on top of tall bookcases and cupboards, can help. Also, keep it away from appliances which emit wireless signals such as cordless phones, baby monitors and some microwaves. Try avoiding barriers such as walls and doors between the router and your computer.

Clean your cache

Every time you visit a webpage, your browser will store or “cache” it. This can make web browsing faster as your computer can call up some or all elements of a previously visited web page from your computer’s local memory so it takes less time to display the page. But these stored items take up space and over time it can get very full. Regularly clearing your browser’s cache will allow it to function more effectively and free up space on your computer. Read our step-by-step guide on how to clear your cache and increase your broadband speed.

Upgrade your browser

Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome are what are known as browsers. Using the latest browser can greatly reduce the time it takes to download a web page. Broadband Choices recommend www.download.com for free downloads of the latest browsers.

Monitor your applications

Many applications, such as RealPlayer or Windows Updates, may discreetly start running when you log-in to your computer and these can slow your connection down. Set these applications so they don’t run automatically, thereby improving your connection speed.

Avoid traffic jams

The more people there are online at the same time, the more internet “traffic” there is which results in a slower connection. Traffic is normally heaviest in the evenings so if you want to go faster, surf the net when internet traffic is low which is generally in the daytime or very late at night.

Make that call

If you’re still not getting the speeds you expected, give your internet service provider (ISP)a call. See if they can give your broadband speed a boost. Ask what is the maximum speed you should be able to achieve. There may be external factors affecting your speed such as traffic management measures enforced by your ISP, so ask them if any such restrictions apply to you.

If you’ve been on the same package for more than a year, there’s a good chance it may be outdated. Your ISP may be able to upgrade you to a faster package – and it’s worth seeing if they will offer you a better deal for your continued custom, particularly if you’re out of your contract period.

Ditch and switch

If after all this you’re still stuck in the slow lane, it may be time to switch. Broadband Choices say the maximum speed you will be able to achieve does depend on some factors outside your control, such as your distance from the telephone exchange. You can compare broadband deals at Confused.com and sort the results by a number of criteria including speed, price and download limits.

If you’re considering switching broadband provider, as well as cost, also consider customer service, as dealing with a call centre can send even the most mild-mannered consumer mad.We put broadband providers customer service to the test. And once you’ve found the right package for you, don’t get caught out by installation fees. It’s a competitive market so it’s worth bartering for a better deal. Read how here.

We’ve put together a step-by-step guide on how to increase your broadband speed which includes information on how to remove unwanted toobars and add-ons, as well as how to clear your cache.

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