Following mounting criticism from industry regulator Ofcom that ISP headline broadband speed rates are not many observers have welcomed Virgin Media’s decision to publish their typical speeds being achieved each month.
Michael Phillips of Broadbandchoices.co.uk comments, “We’re very encouraged that Virgin Media has taken the lead in better managing consumer expectations by pledging to publish its typical broadband speeds each month. We hope that other broadband companies will follow suit.”
“To date, consumers have effectively been misled by service providers’ claims of what speeds are technically feasible compared to what they receive in the real world. Nevertheless, we still want Ofcom to implement a much clearer – and more prescriptive – marketing message policy for all broadband providers.”
Broadbandchoices.co.uk’s top tips for maximising connection speed:
1. Test your speed – If you haven’t already done so, use a speed tester to measure the level at which your broadband connection is currently running.
2. It’s good to talk – If you are not getting what you expected from your ISP, then give them a call. You may be able to boost your connection speed simply by asking them if there is anything they can do to help / re-grade the line.
3. Reposition your router – The position of your router can have a significant effect on the quality of your wireless connection. Place it in an area where the signal will be affected by as few obstructions and little interference as possible. For example, away from appliances which emit wireless signals (e.g. cordless phones) and avoiding barriers (such as walls and doors) between the router and your computer.
4. Spring clean your cache – Every time you visit a webpage, your browser will store, or ‘cache’ it. All these items stored in your cache do take up space and over time it can get very full. Periodically clearing out your browsers cache will enable it to function more effectively.
5. Upgrade your browser – If you are unhappy with the browsing speed of your connection then you should definitely look at upgrading to a newer web browser. Using the latest browsers can greatly reduce the time it takes to download a web page. Check www.download.com for free downloads of the latest browsers, but should be careful when making any changes to the settings on your computer.
6. Monitor your applications – There are many applications (such as RealPlayer or Windows Updates) that may discreetly start running when you log in to your computer and these may slow your connection down. Set these applications so they don’t run automatically – this should reduce your bandwidth overhead and make a noticeable difference to your connection speed.
7. Disable P2P software – P2P applications often continue to run in the background even when you think you’ve turned them off as they continually upload and download – this will not only slow you down but can also use up your download allowance. To avoid this, check the settings and set the programme to ‘no peer to peer,’ so it won’t run when you are not using it.
8. Loathe thy neighbour – If you have wireless broadband, the first and foremost thing you should do is secure your wireless network. If you are unwittingly sharing your connection with unauthorised users then they will be using up valuable bandwidth. This means that the speed of your connection and download allowance could take a battering, not to mention the security threat this poses.
9. Traffic jams – The time of day at which you go online can greatly affect connection speeds. When lots of people are trying to access the internet at the same time there is increased traffic on the physical phone lines and also each website’s servers. Heaviest traffic is usually in the evenings, so to benefit from the fastest speeds you should try to surf when internet traffic is low, generally in the day time or very late at night. If you have heavy downloading to do, you will get the fastest download speeds during off-peak periods.
10. Switch – After all these measures, if your current package still isn’t giving you the speed you want, it may be time to switch. The speed you will be able to achieve does depend on some factors outside your control – such as your distance from the telephone exchange. Evaluate the time and money needed to improve on your current connection and decide for yourself if it is worth an upgrade.