If you get really slow broadband speeds making you have trouble watching movies online or maybe even just browsing the Internet it can be a puzzle. You know your computer is not the problem because it works fine when you are wired with the Ethernet cable. People in your neighbourhood on your ISP have no such issues so it probably isn’t congestion on the line. What could be the cause? Is it something with your house?
It might seem strange, but old houses can certainly play their part in slow Internet broadband speeds. Poor connections can be frustrating to say the least. They deprive you of all the rich content available on the Internet and there is little that you can do. If you are facing this situation, it is best not to jump conclusions just yet.
Not before, at least, we have checked for the exact cause of the problem.
Wiring around the house
There are two main types of fixed line Internet access technology, copper-based and fibre-based. ADSL broadband is a copper-based technology and is provided over your traditional telephone line. If you are using this service, there are a lot of aspects you need to look out for. One of the main things to note is the distance of the nearest exchange from your home – speeds deteriorate with increasing distance.
A further effect could be caused by the age and quality of wiring done in your house. If your house is old then your wiring is likely pretty old too. Its quality might have degraded which can result in poor performance, or it might have been damaged, which might lead to no connectivity at all.
In some cases the wire between the home and your local exchange could be aluminium which is less efficient than copper. If you think that wiring is the problem, it’s time to contact a professional technician.
Are the phone sockets to blame?
Old phone sockets used to have a ring wire. It was used to generate a ringing sound. The telephones of today do not require this and it should be removed. Its presence can cause slow speeds on some ADSL connections.
Removing a ring wire can be somewhat tricky and technical. A much easier way is to fit a broadband accelerator in your socket, like those manufactured by Actelis Networks. They can improve your broadband speeds considerably by reducing interference.
Phone sockets have a micro-filter installed in them. These filters are also known as splitters and, as the name suggests, they are responsible for making sure that your voice and broadband service do not interfere. You should check your phone sockets and make sure that these are present.
Internet speed test for your router
It is possible that the problem lies entirely with your router, and not your home. There is a simple way to test this if you have WiFi available. First, connect to the Internet using your Wifi connection and go to speedtest.net in order to test your connection. The results would be in the form of a certain download speed, upload speed and latency (or ping). Note down these results and turn off your WiFi. Now switch to your wired Ethernet connection and repeat the procedure. If a considerable difference exists between the two results, the problem is with your router and your house wiring is innocent.
It may be that there is a lot of obstruction and interefernce to signals. Pre 1930’s housing tends to have chicken wire in the walls, which is the perfect obstacle to wireless broadband signals. To solve the problem you can either get a router that works on another frequency, get repeaters or a HomePlug System, or just keep on using Ethernet connectivity.
Check to see if you are having problems during certain periods of the day. ISP’s are allotted a certain chunk of bandwidth, which is shared amongst all their customers. This means you may experience slow Internet speed during peak hours. Try doing a speed test at different times of the day. If the results vary a lot during peak and off-peak hours, contact your ISP and explain the situation to them.
It could be helpful to change your DNS address to any one of the free and fast server addresses available over the Internet. A quick Google query will give you a list. If you do not know what a DNS server is, do not worry. You do not really have to. They are actually responsible for translating domain names to IP addresses. All you need to know is that DNS servers from most ISPs are pretty slow.
You should also control which programmes are allowed to access the Internet. There might be some applications that are consuming your bandwidth by running in the background and transferring data without you realising it. It is also a good practice to have up to date antivirus installed. New viruses and malwares are created every day. They can crop into your computer and slow down your Internet by placing unnecessary load on your processor, or sending large files to a remote server. There are a variety of free antivirus software available over the Internet, for instance AVG and Avast. Be sure to update them regularly and do a full system-scan every now and then.
Nothing worked, the problem remains! Now What?
If you have done all that you can and are still suffering there is always the option of switching to fibre optic broadband service. An increasing number of service providers are providing ‘fibre to the home.’ It is a huge improvement from the traditional copper technology. Fibres can carry larger data to greater distances with faster and more reliable broadband. There was a time when this technology was extremely expensive. Fierce competition among the likes of Virgin Media, BT, Sky and TalkTalk has pushed down prices. More and more people are switching to fibre due to its superior performance.
There you have it; your old house might or might not be an issue. If it really is an issue, there are a lot of things you can do. But make sure you are positive. You should only draw a conclusion after a thorough analysis of the problem and exhausting all other possibilities; especially if you are going to be ripping down walls to remove chicken wire.
The internet speed test Phil Turner found online proved to be really useful when he was having trouble with his system. He had to change his provider and got a great deal online using price comparison sites like uSwitch.