How fast is my broadband?
There are a range of factors that determine the broadband speed you get and which may affect its performance. The biggest factors are distance from your home to the local street cabinet and your telephone exchange and the product you take. These will determine the actual 'line speed' we provide to your home. From there how you use the service will determine what speed of connection you experience on your device; whether that be a laptop, desktop PC, console, tablet or smartphone. For example, most people will be sharing their Wi-Fi with a number of people and have several devices connected simultaneously.
Your line speed capacity can often therefore be shared between these devices and be lower than the speed estimate we provide you with. Similarly your Wi-Fi performance can also affect the speed you see on your connected device. Most modern devices will be capable of connecting on 5GHz which our Hub One router supports, however some older devices will only connect of the slower 2.4GHz radio frequency. Distance from your router can also affect Wi-Fi performance, as can thick brick walls for example. Check our general guide on How to improve Wi-Fi signal.
When deciding what product would suit you best it makes sense to know how many people will be sharing your connection and what type of things you’ll be using your connection for. Once you know your expected online activity, you can choose the best package to keep your films streaming, photos uploading, and updates posting like clockwork.
Here are some things you should consider:
Different types of broadband bring different speeds
The first thing that will determine how fast your broadband can be is the package you have selected. Plusnet provides three packages, each with a different maximum speed:
Unlimited – Up to 17Mbps
Unlimited Fibre – Up to 38Mbps
Unlimited Fibre Extra – Up to 76Mbps
These maximum speeds are different due to the technology used to deliver your broadband with each package. 'Unlimited' (ADSL) uses copper cables (sometimes aluminium) to transfer information all the way back to the telephone exchange, while 'Unlimited Fibre' and 'Unlimited Fibre Extra' use fibre optic cables from the exchange to the street cabinet and then the standard copper or aluminium telephone line to your home. Fibre cables can handle a much larger amount of data without degradation due to line length; therefore the speeds available on fibre optic packages are much greater than for ADSL.
For more information on fibre broadband, visit our guide here
Finding the broadband speed that's right for you
If you only use the Internet mainly to read web pages, shop online, check your emails and social media, then a standard ADSL broadband package may be best for you. These activities don't in themselves need the superfast speeds of fibre.
If you use the Internet every day, watch several videos, and download or stream content from the web, you should consider a fibre optic package which will deliver much faster download speeds. You'll need a fast and reliable connection in order to watch videos at high quality, or if you're likely to use several devices in your home at the same time.
For heavy Internet use, we recommend a fibre optic package with a speed of 50Mbps or more. Regularly streaming HD video through services such as YouTube and Netflix, and downloading large files including feature films or software packages will need a higher speed than normal to facilitate your activity. Our 'up to 76Mbps' Fibre products will also provide a higher upload speed which can be important if your household is regularly uploading files to Facebook or YouTube.
What can affect your throughput speed?
Layout of your home
The arrangement of furniture, thickness of walls, and location of nearby electronic equipment can all disrupt or weaken the wireless signal your broadband router transmits to your devices.
Electronic interference can be generated by electronics operating at the 2.4GHz frequency - this is the same radio frequency many wireless routers use. As a result of this, several nearby routers operating simultaneously (often in neighbouring houses) can sometimes interfere with each other and slow down the speed you get on your Wi-Fi connection.
This can be rectified by setting your router to operate on a separate channel, and can depend on the type of router you're using. Some only have single channels available, others allow for minor frequency changes, and some routers can operate on 5GHz frequencies. Other electronic objects that may use the 2.4GHz band include cordless telephones, baby monitors, and devices that use Bluetooth.
You should also consider where you place your wireless router carefully. Wall insulation, water, brick, concrete, and doors constructed with metal can all have a detrimental effect on your Wi-Fi signal. Place your router close to the centre of your home to ensure the best signal coverage.
Amount of activity
The broadband you experience can also be hindered by the number of devices that are connected to your router at one time.
With the popularisation of Wi-Fi, hardware such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones can all connect to a home network in an instant. Simple web browsing, gaming or reading emails take very little bandwidth and dozens of appliances should be able to connect to the same network without hindering performance.
However, downloading files, updating software and streaming music or HD video can take up much more bandwidth, especially if multiple users are all doing so from different devices. This will lower the speed for everything connected to the network. If your Internet appears slow, try closing any programs with any high-bandwidth activity that aren't being used and only running one or two programs or apps at any one time.
What to do if your speed is lower than expected
If you are experiencing any other problems or have questions about your internet speed, don't hesitate to get in touch. Our experts will help resolve your issues and get your internet back on track.