Improving a slow internet connection

The broadband speed you receive can be affected by a number of issues in your home. If the speed checkers return download speeds below those predicted on the BT website you can try some of the following:

BT extension socket

Try connecting your modem to the main (master) BT socket. For example, a broadband service at 4.5Mb connected to an extension became 8Mb when connected to the main socket.

Use of micro filters

Micro filters are small devices that should be plugged into every telephone socket in the property. They have two output sockets, one for a telephone and one for data.If a telephone is missing a micro filter then it will cause interference to broadband, leading to a loss of speed.

Micro filters cost about £3 each.

Interference from electrical wiring / older electrical appliances

In some cases older electrical wiring or older electrical devices such as freezers or washing machines can cause interference on your BT line – this doesn’t normally affect your voice calls, but can affect broadband.

BT has the BT Broadband Accelerator (formerly the iPlate) which shields interference in the BT box. Some households will find it improves broadband speed and some will find that it doesn't help at all. Visit the BT website to see whether a BT Accelerator may help.

Using a wireless router / wireless-enabled laptop

Wireless networking enables you to work in any room in the house. However, wireless signal strength (and potentially your broadband speed) is affected by walls and floors for example.

It is also important to secure your wireless router by setting a password and using the highest level of encryption the router supports. Check your broadband speed with the laptop next to the router – if this is faster than elsewhere in the house consider an alternative such as 'Ethernet Over Power'.

Using 'Ethernet over Power'

'Ethernet over Power' plugs enable you to set up a wired network using electrical sockets around the house – a pair of such plugs costs about £30-£60.

Traffic shaping

Traffic shaping is a technique used by some Internet Service Providers (ISPs), to make sure everyone has a connection at times of high demand.

Normal browsing traffic is given priority over downloads and other activities, particularly peer-to-peer traffic. So depending on what you're doing, you could experience a slower service.

Other factors

These are out of your control and are only relevant if you get your broadband through a telephone line. It could be that:

  • your house is too far from the telephone exchange – the longer the length of BT wire, the worse the broadband signal
  • you are served at least in part by overhead lines, which cause broadband signals to deteriorate faster than underground cable
  • you are served by old or damaged cabling
  • your ISP assumes that a number of broadband customers can share the same bandwidth from the exchange because they aren’t all online at the same time (referred to as 'contention'). This can cause significant slowdowns at busy periods.

All you can do is ask your ISP to investigate.