Tips for speeding up a slow Broadband Connection
Slow Broadband? Are you sure you have everything setup right?
Recently I visited a relative whose broadband had been notoriously slow and intermittent for a while. I was there for an hour or so and had bought a couple of things in advance for the job. When I left their broadband was not only more stable, but the speed that they could achieve had increased by 33%!
How was this possible I hear you ask? Simply by setting up everything in the best possible way. When I say everything I mean their router, and phone connections. Speed is often something people choose to complain about, especially with the varying quality of the DSL technologies used to provide broadband services in the UK, however time and time again I have found that serious improvements can be made if you just have everything set-up correctly on your side before picking up the phone and complaining to your ISP.
A significant number of households have got things in a right mess and it’s ultimately the speed and stability of your own connection that suffers. I’m not going to pretend that you can work miracles and go from 2-20Mbit with a few tweaks, however just by following some simple steps you can ensure your setup is configured to maximise your speed and stability. I had to implement each of these steps below on my recent visit and as a result an extra 1000Kbit/sec throughput was achieved. If you can’t get FTTC yet, maybe you should take a look and see if any of these steps might help you.
Not all routers are created equal
Not all routers are the same, just because the box says ADSL2+ doesn’t means it’s going to work as well as the one on the shelf next to it that says the same. When ADSL2+ launched in the UK, one of the ISP’s published some public tests that compared the speeds of routers available on the market, there was a significant difference. Some were able to reach 11Mbit download where as others on the same line could get 16! Imagine using a slow router on a long line that can only achieve 512Kbit. You could potentially double your speed by fitting more compatible equipment! A lot of ‘power users’ like to fit their own router and bin the one that their ISP sent them. If your ISP sent you a router then USE IT! They will have spent hours and hours testing that router against their own equipment to make sure it was compatible. You may have just broken your own service by using that router you bought at your local supermarket.
If you’re a customer of BT or a BT reseller with ‘wires only’ and need to supply your own router then my advice is to use one with a Broadcom chipset (The actual electronic chips inside the router itself) to get the best results. (Netgear DG834Gv4, Thompson Speedtouch ST585v6, ST585v7 or the Billion 7800 are examples of these) As time passes each manufacturer are improving the compatibility of their products. If you have your own router already and don’t want to replace it, contact the manufacturer and see if a software update is available, this may really help.
Use the Master Socket
This is one of the most important factors! So often the router is connected to an extension and not the main socket. Secondary sockets in other rooms and home offices often hang off the master socket using cables that are not suited for DSL (Broadband). If you want the maximum speed and stability you must run your router directly off the master BT socket using the shortest cable you can. With wireless networking so easily available now this is becoming less and less of an inconvenience. Don’t run a long cable to the phone socket, move the router and utilise the wireless features of your router to connect to it from a more convenient location. (Need to identify the master socket on your line? It should look like the following image – with a split about half-way down.
The filter always goes first!
The first thing connected into every socket on your line that is in use should be the filter! So often I see socket doublers plugged in first with the filter hanging out of each of the sockets. This is wrong! If you need to double up on the sockets then plug the multiplier into the phone port on the filter. If you have a TV set top box that uses a pass-through type connector, this plugs into the filter! Simple rule, the filter always goes first!
This also counts for extensions sockets even if you’re not using them for broadband. If it’s connected to the same phone line it MUST be filtered.
Above and beyond
If you really want to go that extra mile to improving your home wiring then there is an additional device you can buy that can make a big difference. It’s something that BT now fit as standard on new lines, they fit them on fault visits and they fit them for FTTC customers. They do this because they know how much better it can make things. The best news is you can buy a 3rd party version and fit it yourself if you don’t have one already!
They are known to BT as service specific face plates (SSFP) and they fit directly onto your existing BT master socket. It has a built in filter and changes your socket so it has an additional dedicated broadband socket just like the standard filters that come with your router.
The real benefit comes however when you have an extension or two in other rooms. These generally act like giant antenna to introduce interference onto your phone line. By connecting these into the back of your new face plate and it filters those too! No longer do you need separate filters on your extensions! This has the effect of cutting out the interference caused by extensions right at the master socket which often also causes a boost in speed. If you have wired in extensions in your home and are handy with a screwdriver this is a must have.
So if your looking for improved speed and stability from your broadband without upgrading to FTTC, pick up an SSFP and see what you can do for yourself.