Broadband speeds – what affects the actual speed you get?

Broadband speeds are advertised as getting faster and faster, in reality though what’s the actual broadband speed you can get and what affects this?

Broadband SpeedsYou can get great broadband deals where the advertised broadband speed will reference the fastest speed available, for example ”up to 20Mb’.

Whether or not you get this as your actual broadband speed depends on a range of different factors.

There’s the broadband package you have, the type of broadband connection and your broadband provider but there are also a number of other factors around the exchange, your home and the internet itself that can affect the speed.

The exchange

  • For ADSL connections (not cable broadband), the closer you are to the telephone exchange the more likely you are to get faster broadband speeds
  • If your exchange is busy your connection may be slower. Cheaper broadband packages tend to have higher contention ratios, meaning more people can share the exchange which can result in slower connection speeds.
  • The time of day can influence speeds with it sometimes slowing during the peak evening usage period.


  • High capacity cables and and modem can help ensure you get good upload and download speeds
  • Wireless routers can slow down broadband speeds. This can be of particular if your broadband speed is above 8Mb
  • Multiple people using the broadband connection at the same time means the speed is shared across all the acitvities. Depending what all are doing it could impact on the speed
  • The age of your computer can have an impact. If it’s old and running an out of date operating system it can slow things down
  • Using a USB connection can slow your speed, particularly if you have faster speeds available
  • Viruses, spyware and adware can cause problems. Make sure you have up to date anti-virus software. Some broadband providers, like Virgin Media, provide this – they use PCguard.


  • The website you’re accessing itself can affect the performance – if it is slow or perhaps a lot of people are trying to use it at the same time
  • the internet may become congested, after all it is a ‘web’ of different networks linking with each other. If any become very busy or stopped it can impact on the speed through the others.

So, as you can see there are a number of factors which can affect the actual broadband speeds you get. Some of these are under your control others are not.

Taking the items that you do have some control over there are steps that you can take to improve the speed you get – watch out for a future article on this.

One thing, don’t forget that you may yourself now be doing more with your broadband connection than you used to, perhaps using the iPlayer or downloading music or perhaps the connection is being shared by more people in your home?

It could be time to upgrade and get a new deal?

If so, there are broadband bundles which, increasingly popular, offer a combination from broadband, phone, TV and Mobile phone services.

MoneyHighStreet recently did a review of ‘Broadband bundles – what are they and should I get one?‘, which you might find useful.

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