Factors That Affect Internet Speed

Mon, Jan 10, 2011, by FixItDuck

Web Talk

Its irritating how the speed of home broadband seems to fluctuate randomly. However the speed change is not in fact random, as there are many factors that contribute to the internet speed you notice in your web browser. In this article I’ll tell you why your broadband speed may be as it is, when is the best time to use the internet and how you can speed yours up.

Your web browser

The web browser your using can have a huge impact on your internet speedInternet Explorer is one of the slowest browsers, so you should avoid using it unless your not worried about your current internet speed.  Google Chrome and Safari are the fastest web browsers, and are available freely for both Mac OSX and Windows.  You can download Chrome here and Safari here.

Your router

The router your using to provide broadband to the computer(s) in your home can slow down the internet a lot if it is old or hasn’t been reset in a long time.  If your broadband has slowly become sluggish over several weeks try resetting the router and restarting the computer(s) in your home.

For best performance you should use a modern router made in the last couple of years.  A standard router doesn’t cost a huge amount, ($80-$100) however you should purchase a good quality one for best results and a longer lifespan.

Your broadband connection to the outside world

Generally this is a cable, but people who live in remote places often use a satellite instead.    If your using satellite broadband you should tune both the satellite and decoder every few months for the best speed.  However you should keep in mind that satellite internet isn’t as fast as most hard wired broadband connections.

If you obtain your broadband through a cable your speed is affected by the quality and age of the cables connecting you to your ISP.  Really old lines may still have copper in them, which is very slow, while more modern lines may have fibre optic cables in them.

The connection from your computer to your router

There are two ways to connect your computer to your router:  Ethernet and wifi.  Ethernet is generally faster than wifi, so if your using a desktop computer that cannot benefit from the wireless freedom that wifi offers you should connect it with Ethernet.  However if your using a laptop it is impractical to use Ethernet, so you should focus on getting the best wifi signal.  The best way is to get a better signal is to use your laptop close to the router, and to have as little as possible in between the laptop and the router.

Your ISP

Different internet service providers offer different speeds depending on your location.  For example, some ISPs might focus on high speeds for urban areas, while others focus on high speeds for rural customers.  To see if your getting what your paying for you’ll need to test your internet speed here.

Your country’s infrastructure 

This is everything that connects your house to national and international servers, including cables, ISP servers, exchanges, satellites and much more.  You can’t do anything about your country’s infrastructure, its up to the government and the telecoms companies to maintain and upgrade it.  

You should never compare your internet connection to connections overseas.  For all you know your broadband could be connected to your ISP via 100s of miles of copper wire.  And the connection your comparing to could be connected by ten meters of fibre-optic cable!

The physical distance from you to your local exchange

Generally you are connected to your local exchange via cheap slow cables, and the local exchange is connected to the international exchange via fibre-optic cables.  So the more cheap wiring your broadband connection has to travel through to get to the local exchange, the slower your connection will be.

There are two things that you can do about this:  The first is to move next door to your local exchange (which is highly unlikely).  And the second is to switch ISPs if in your country different ISPs use different infrastructure.

The location of the server your connecting to

If the website your trying to visit is hosted very close to your home, chances are it’ll load faster than if it is hosted internationally.  When your downloading big files there are usually several mirrors you can download it from.  Each mirror is located in a different part of the world – so you should choose the mirror closest to your country for the fastest download speed.

The number of people using the same line at the same time

Urban customers often share the same broadband line with several neighbors.  This means the connection will be slower if more than one person is using the line at the same time.  If you do share a line, you can take advantage of the higher speeds at certain times of the day by experimenting to see your neighbors usage patterns.  You can then schedule big downloads for times when no one else is using the broadband line.  In addition to the download being much faster, your neighbors won’t have to suffer slow speeds when using the internet due to your download.


Those are the main factors that affect internet speed.  Feel free to bookmark this page so when your broadband connection gets a big sluggish you can come back here to pinpoint the cause.  Thanks for reading!

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29 Comments For This Post
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