We regularly get queries about broadband speeds and why they do not appear to be as fast the advertised speeds.
Currently broadband is offered over standard telephone lines with connection speeds advertised as being “up to 24Mb”.
[NB Strictly speaking Mb should be written as Mbps as it is short for Megabits per second.]
However, no-one that has a broadband service that is advertised at “up to 24Mb” can actually achieve a speed that is close to 24Mb.
Connection speeds on broadband services that are advertised as being “up to 24Mb” typically vary from 1Mb to 15Mb depending on the length and quality of the telephone line used to transmit the broadband signal from the customer’s premises to the telephone exchange.
Unfortunately, there nothing that can be done about these speed variations as this is the nature of broadband provision over standard telephone lines.
The longer the telephone line and the poorer the line quality then the slower the broadband connection speed.
All internet service providers have a single price for their advertised “up to 24Mb” service.
In other words, customers that have a 1Mb service are charged at the same price as customers that achieve speeds of 15Mb.
This would seem to be unfair, but from the point of view of the internet service provider the cost of providing service to low-speed customers is the same as that for providing service to high-speed customers.
It is not the internet service provider’s fault that the customer lives a long way from the exchange.
By-passing the local exchange
Some remote communities have found a way of increasing their broadband speeds by reducing the length of their telephone line.
They have achieved this by installing the broadband equipment in their local telephone line distribution cabinet rather than in their local telephone exchange.
This solution offers broadband service where previously none was possible and also significantly higher speeds to those who previously had a very slow broadband connection.
However, this is an expensive solution since the community has to pay for the equipment that is installed in the distribution cabinet together with the connection from the cabinet to the internet.
The other way to bypass the local exchange to achieve higher broadband speeds is to use a wireless connection of some description (eg community WiFi, satellite or mobile network).
Fibre to the Cabinet
In the last year or so Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) services have attempted to minimise the problems caused by speed degradation caused by long telephone lines. This is achieved through the installation of high speed fibre from the exchange and terminating it in the telephone cabinets nearer to customer premises.
This has two advantages. One is that there is a higher starting speed available from fibre. The other is that the speed degradation is less because the length of the telephone line has been shortened.
In other words the length of the telephone line has been reduced from the distance between the exchange and the customer premises to the distance between the cabinet and the customer premises.
Other broadband speed issues
Another problem with broadband speeds is that the speed that the telephone line supports is usually not the actual speed that is experienced.
In other words the broadband connection to the local exchange is synchronised at (say) 10Mb, but the actual speeds indicated using a speed test service is much lower.
The reasons for this are associated with general internet congestion and congestion on specific websites.
For example, if you access a USA website at 10.00 GMT it is likely to offer a faster service than if you accessed the same site at 16.00 GMT. Similarly, if the website that you are trying to access is popular at the time you try to access it (eg HMRC website on 31st January) then the speeds experienced will be slower than at other times.
Please get in touch using our Contact Form if you wish to discuss your broadband speed issues and the options for achieving a higher speeds.