A Guide To Broadband Download Speeds

The download speed of your broadband connection is the rate at which data is sent to your computer. This speed is typically advertised in megabits per second. Depending on a number of factors, however, the actual speed you experience may be far lower than what an internet service provider promises.

Congestion during busy hours or distance from a telephone exchange can degrade the quality of your connection. As a single connection is normally shared between a number of households in the area, speeds can be particularly slow during the evening.

Downloads comprise the majority of data transfers on the internet. Whether it is streaming music, watching a video, or browsing the web, data is being sent through network channels to your machine. Although upload speeds are critical for services such as online multi-player gaming, file sharing, and video chat, most users rate their broadband providers based on their download speed.

The Speed of Your Broadband

News reports often list negative stories regarding broadband speeds, accusing the UK’s larger providers of giving customers slower speeds than promised. Most of these reports arise due to advertisements that belie what consumers can realistically expect from their broadband connection. For example, an advertised speed of up to 20 Mbps refers to download speeds in optimum conditions, with little to no degradation from congestion, distance, or old household wiring.

According to the Digital Britain report sponsored by the government, customers throughout the UK who signed up for the fastest broadband also tended to file the most complaints regarding speed. This was especially the case during peak times when the sheer number of users throttled traffic.
How To Check Your Download Speed

In order to determine whether your decreased speeds are the result of throttling or poor service, individuals can use free broadband speed tests at various times of the day. A speed test will measure how quickly data is being sent to your computer. By checking your speeds regularly, you can better narrow down the root of your bandwidth problems.

If the culprit turns out to be the internet service provider (ISP), you can contact them and request an engineer to visit your property to determine if anything can be done to improve the connection. Most ISPs are willing to provide this service in order to retain dissatisfied customers. If the ISP is unable to correct the issue, they should be amenable to lowering your monthly payment to compensate for the inferior speeds.

If the ISP refuses to do so, a formal complaint can be made to a regulatory agency such as Ofcom or Otelo. Under UK law, customers can also switch providers with relative ease by requesting a Migration Authorisation Code (MAC). The MAC code contains all the necessary user information to make the transition to a new service provider easy and effortless. Once requested, the code must be issued to the customer within 5 days.