Testing slow broadband speeds

Testing slow broadband speeds – the first checks

checking a router

There’s little more irritating than paying for a broadband service and finding your speeds aren’t what they should be, or what you expect, or having an intermittent service. Slow broadband is something your supplier may be able to fix but it pays to make a few checks yourself first, to make sure the fault isn’t within your home.

Try the tests below before calling technical support. As a minimum they will help you explain the actual problem, which always helps tech support workers when they are investigating, and they might even solve the issue if yours is a simple problem.

If the real problem boils down to the standard router your broadband supplier gave you not being good enough for multiple devices or not having good enough coverage, you might want to look at our recommendations for router upgrades.

Simple tests to check slow broadband

First, find out of the problem is at your end

Is your router plugged in and turned on, with the cables correctly connected at the socket and router, and your device if applicable?

Are you using a micro-filter?

A micro-filter is used to divide signals on your phone line into two, one for phone and one for broadband. Most standard routers will come supplied with one, in case they are needed. Micro-filters should normally only be used on older phone sockets with one hole to plug a cable into. If your phone socket has only one hole in it, plug the micro-filter into your phone socket, and then plug the cable from your router into the hole on the filter which has the broadband symbol on it. If your phone socket is newer and has two holes, make sure the cable to your router is plugged directly into the hole with the broadband symbol and that you are not using the micro-filter. If you had to make any changes at this stage, now re-boot your router as below.


Re-boot your router

Completely disconnect your router from the electricity supply, wait for at least 10 seconds, then reconnect it, turn it on and press the reset button on the back (sometimes hidden in a little hole) for 5-6 seconds and then release it. The router will take a couple of minutes to fully reset. When restarted, test again.

Still slow?

Try the router your supplier sent you if you are using your own.

Still slow?

Test if it’s slow broadband or a WiFi issue

Without changing anything or disconnecting devices, use your browser to visit https://www.speedtest.net/ and run several tests using their checker. Make a note of the upload and download speeds for reference. Having done those tests, now make some changes before you test again.

Unless you only have WiFi devices, connect your pc or other device to the router using an ethernet cable to remove WiFi issues from the equation. Turn off or disconnect all other devices except your testing device to ensure you can test your speed accurately.

Using your browser, go to https://www.speedtest.net/ and run their speed checker several times, making notes of the upload and download speeds. Now visit https://speedof.me/ and run the same tests using their checker. They test in a slightly different way. Again, note the results. Compare them with your first speed test results and see if they are different. If they are the issue could be down to the number of devices using your broadband, or weak WiFi. Are the results what you expected, based on your broadband contract?

If the problem relates mostly to WiFi coverage, you might consider upgrading your WiFi router.

Still slow?

Contact your broadband supplier

You’ve done more or less all you can do to test your line and performance at your end, so now it’s time to contact your broadband supplier’s technical support team and report a fault. They will appreciate it if you explain what tests you have done, what results you got from your speed tests. If your speeds are particularly slow at certain times, explain that too, as it may help.

Your supplier is unlikely to be able to fix the issue while you are on the phone as they will need to run tests on the line. If they can’t see any obvious issues (and even if they can) they will need to speak to the network operators and ask them to run similar tests. If a fault is identified, the network may need to send engineers out to rectify the problem. If the network can’t identify a fault their last option may be to visit your property and make tests there. If an engineer call-out of any sort is needed, it may be a couple of days before any faults are fixed.