Archive for the ‘Broadband’ Category

Broadband Internet going slow

3 February 2009

Test your Internet speed from http://www.speedtest.net/

Click on the yellow pyramid and wait a few minutes for the results

If you get anything below 2000Kb/s download speed then your Internet speed is far too slow and it is time to call your ISP (Internet Service Provider). They might need to upgrade your speed (which most will do free of any charge) or there might be another issue that they can help diagnose.

I currently get approx 5Mb/s download and 500Kb/s upload which are fair, but there are faster speed out there! For BT lines, you can check what speeds should reach using BT broadband checker

Recently, I diagnosed a faulty cable to be the cause of Internet being barely useable (with speeds around 10% of normal). It was a desktop cabled to a router, which is usually the most reliable way to connect to the Internet.

Here are 10 things to check when trying to diagnose Internet Speed (this is based on a PC Pro article from July 2008, Issue 165).

1.    Check for electrical interference

Lights with faulty power supplies and televisions have been known to wreak havoc with broadband speeds within a 200 metre radius. If you find that your Internet is significantly faster at times when a certain appliance is turned off, pay attention to this!

2.    Fit an iPlate

Ask your ISP for an iPlate which can be fitted to your telephone socket. Thisdevice helps to filter out issues relating to point 1 above. The device will only benefit those with multiple phone sockets in the home. Those that use their master socket alone are unlikely to notice any difference.

3.    Avoid extension wiring

Apparently a number one connection issue. Avoid extension cables – routers should be connected directly to a phone socket (and preferably a master socket).

4.    Wi-Fi and homeplugs

If you connect using WiFi, then check the channel your router is broadcasting on. If there are plenty of neighbours using the same channel then change to a different one since you are just competing for signal strength.

Netstumbler will help identify what wireless channel you are using (Typically in the UK it will be channels 1, 6 or 11). Also, this article gives more information on channels you could try.

Changing a channel is done from the router control panel. For Netgear routers, for example, this will be done using your internet browser and going to 192.168.0.1 with username admin and password of password. If you do not feel confident changing any settings here, please ask a technician since this can affect your internet connection!

5.    Ask for the Reactive Repair Tool

Most ISP support staff can look up detailed history on your line’s maximum and average speed, faults and uptime over the last fortnight. Looking at this information can be very useful in pinning down issues.

6.    Keep your router up to date

If your router is more than four years old, then it is time to get a new one to benefit from the latest innovations e.g. ADSL2+

My current favourite router is the Netgear DG834N http://www.friedman.co.uk/recommendations.htm#Routers
If your router is younger than 4 years of age, visit the router manufacturer website and check the support section for router firmware upgrades which you can upload direct to your router. Please be careful and read their instructions thoroughly when doing this – for example, unplugging a router during an upgrade could destroy the router.

Some routers fitted with a Texas Instruments AR7 chipset see http://www.linux-mips.org/wiki/AR7 have certainly shown issues in connectivity reliability. In some cases a router firmware upgrade will overcome the issue. Often when you buy a new router, there are already updates for it available online!

7.    Replace your broadband filters

Filters are little white boxes that should be connected to each telephone socket to filter out broadband noise. They are surprisingly a common point of failure for home broadband connections. You can also do away with filters by buying a £17 ADSL faceplate which would fit to your master socket. Here is a guide to look at on changing faceplate http://www.clarity.it/telecoms/adsl_faceplate.htm

8.    Fine tune your MTU settings

MTU stands for maximum transmission unit. On most routers this is set to 1500, but some ISP’s recommend a different setting like 1478, 1468, 1430. Best to check with your ISP for recommended MTU and then set this up on your router.

You can also use this optimiser http://www.speedguide.net/downloads.php to check MTU settings on your Windows machine, but be careful if you use this.

9.    Ask for Interleaving

If all else fails and Internet is still very slow, ask your ISP to turn on Interleaving (this is in place of an iplate).  It has pros and cons but may help overall with an erratic connection if there is excessive noise on your line.