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The pains of bad broadband and how to fix it for free

By Cable.co.uk | Friday, February 19th 2021

What’s bad broadband you ask? I’m sure we’ve all had times when even Google’s search page wasn’t loading properly. Or when watching something on YouTube became an experience so choppy you just wanted to throw your laptop out the window. That’s bad Internet – the one that doesn’t allow you to perform basic stuff. But don’t worry, we’re here to explain how to fix it (for free).

Whether you’re trying to entertain the kids at home, you’re keeping yourself busy during lockdown or you’re working from your house, if your broadband is not enough or not good enough you’re possibly feeling the pains of bad Internet.

Is there anything more frustrating than being on a Zoom call and then the image freezing, only to drop off the whole chat for no reason and having to reload? Maybe sending big documents that take forever to reach their destination and hog all the bandwidth? Possibly trying to watch your favourite show on a streaming platform only to stare at the ‘loading’ message? Or playing your favourite video game and the whole thing not working… and resulting in your character getting killed? Seriously, you’ve probably experienced at least one of these circumstances – like everybody else.

Sometimes having bad broadband doesn’t have an easy fix, particularly when you live somewhere remote and there’s not much you can do about it. But in most circumstances, there will be something you can do to fix your Internet speed for free – or very little. And we’re going to give you some practical tips you can try at home.

What’s a good speed?

Well, it is universally acknowledged that you’ll need at least 10Mbps per second download and 5Mbps upload for streaming shows in HD and use video calling apps. But the more people and devices at home, the more speed you will need. Anything below 10Mbps won’t cut it for most of us.

Is broadband really the problem?

Whilst it is possible you don’t have the broadband speeds you need or that your router is not performing well, the reasons for your poor connection could be somewhere else. So, let’s have a closer look at the smartphone, tablet or laptop you have. They may be the problem.

These devices may be too old to fully support intense applications like Zoom or gaming. If that is the case, you may need more memory for that device. Other times, the good old ‘switch off/switch on’ your device is all you need. Closing any apps that you have running in the background and that you don’t need can also help.

What modem and wireless router do you have?

Most people have a modem/router combination leased from your Internet Service Provider (ISP). That’s why you need to find the one device that provides you with your broadband. You possibly know where it is – even if it’s hidden in some corner out of your sight.

For optimal performance, ideally, you should have a modem and a router which are relatively new(ish). Also, location matters. A lot. A router should be located close to the computer or where your family tends to use broadband the most. Make sure it’s not obstructed by doors, chimneys, thick plaster walls or closets if you want to benefit from its full performance.

Another thing you may want to check is that your network is password-protected and that none of your neighbours is sneakily using your broadband more than you.

Image of a router

What service are you paying for?

Do you know what type of broadband you have? Are you on the most basic no-frills package? Do you have fibre? Have you been with the same provider for years and you’re not sure? Have a look at your broadband contract or read our guide to switching your broadband provider.

Knowing what you’re paying for and what speeds you should be getting will help you asses your needs. You’ve probably added a few devices since you last calculated the speeds you need, so upgrading your package might solve your problem.

If you need to switch, then Cable.co.uk is here to help. And it’s easy as can be.

Run a speed test

Yes, this is what every other website will tell you but running a speed test is essential if you want to figure out why your broadband is slower than you’d like. Plus, running a speed test is so easy and quick.

To run a speed test, simply select ‘GO’ and wait a few seconds for the results. If the test shows you a speed close to what you’re paying for, then your network is fine. If the results show a slower speed than expected, it’s time to speak to your provider. It’s worth bearing in mind that your speed might be slower during peak times.

Tune your WiFi

Sounds tricky but it’s not. Most likely your issue with broadband will have to do with your WiFi network. Think about dead zones – common in big or oddly shaped homes, thick walls and building materials, location. If you’ve already moved the router to a good spot with plenty of visibility and you’re still having slow broadband issues, then maybe it’s the time to either update your router software – if yours is an old one you may have to do it manually – or upgrade to a newer mesh system – which means you’ll have a bunch of little wireless boxes spreading the WiFi signal beautifully throughout your home.

For more tips about setting up your WiFi, read our guide.

Call your ISP

If your broadband speed is lacking and you’re right next to your router, then you’ve got a problem with your Internet Service Provider. If you’ve already restarted the modem but that didn’t work, call your ISP too. It could be a technical glitch or your modem may be too old. No matter what, it’s always worth checking.

You can also use the call to complain to your broadband provider. The pros may be able to fix your issues or offer you an alternative. In the case that your ISP doesn’t serve. Your area well, then it could be the time to switch.

Have you experienced a slow broadband at home? What did you do to fix it? Let us know your tips and we’ll take note.

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