Why is my internet so slow?

  • Common reasons for slow internet
  • Find the best way to speed up your connection
  • Avoid slow connections like mobile broadband

This question is asked by almost all broadband users at some point. And finding the answer to the question can sometimes be a fruitless and frustrating task. Realistically, there are a number of reasons why your internet could be slow, and sometimes it feels like the only answer is “because it just is.”

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Below is a checklist of some of the most common explanations as to why your internet is so slow. The key to diagnosing the problem is to go through all possible reasons and cross them off one by one till you arrive at your answer. We’ve also recommended ways to speed up your internet, even if it’s just that little bit.

Mobile wireless broadband customers can learn more about how to improve their broadband speeds here.

The first step is to find out your actual download and upload speeds. These aren’t the speeds which are nominated on your plan details (which is a theoretical maximum figure only), but the actual speeds your broadband is operating at.

1.    Navigate to the CompareBroadband.com.au site, and click on “Test Your Speed.”
2.    Fill in your plan details, and this will take you to the speed test page.
3.    Click on “Begin Test,” and wait for the results to come in. If the speed test doesn’t load at all, you may just have to consider your download speed to be super slow!
4.    Your download speed will appear on the left, and upload speed on the right. Scroll down to view users’ results from across Australia.
5.    For more accurate results, ensure you have no other web applications open and complete the test three times to calculate an average.

If you try any of our techniques for speeding up your internet, you can come back later to the speed test to see if your download and uploads speeds have improved.

So, why is my internet so slow?

•    Because you’re on a broadband plan which only allows really slow speeds

If you have a satellite or ADSL1 connection, you will most likely have a theoretical maximum speed specified by your ISP. This could be 256Kbps, 512Kbps, 1500Kbps, 8000Kbps or 20-24Kbps. (Note: 1000Kbps=1Mbps). If you’re on a plan which is 512Kbps or less, then your slow speed would be largely due to your internet plan. It may be time to upgrade to a plan with a faster maximum speed. TPG (1300 106 571) offers ADSL1 speeds of up to 20Mbps.

To learn more about how theoretical maximum speeds and actual speeds work, read our article
here.


•    Because you’re so far away from the exchange!

This one applies to ADSL1, ADSL2+ and cable broadband customers. The further away you are from the exchange, the more speed you will lose. Cable broadband speeds tend to weaken at a faster rate than ADSL the further away you are to the exchange. Call us at Compare Broadband on 1300 106 571 and we can give you an indication of how far away you are from the phone exchange.

If you’re more than 3KM away from the exchange, this is probably the major cause of your slow internet speeds. You could look at swapping from ADSL to cable (or vice versa) as the exchanges may be different, however apart from that there isn’t really any other solution. Fortunately this is a problem that will be fixed when the NBN is in place.

•    You’ve exceeded your data allowance

Most broadband providers such as TPGiPrimus (1300 137 794) and Optus (1300 137 897) slow your internet speed down instead of charging for excess data usage. This is a great way to avoid unexpected extra figures on your bill, but it may also be the reason why it just took you 20 minutes to check your email. If this is happening every month, it may be time to upgrade your plan – most providers will let you do this with no penalty fees.

•    Your housemate is downloading six entire seasons of Lost!


If you have multiple users using your internet connection (whether you’re connected via wireless or Ethernet cables), your internet speed is going to slow down. If your housemate is downloading an entire TV series in the room next door, you may want to tell them to do it while everyone is sleeping!

You should have a password set on your wireless network to make sure your sneaky neighbours aren’t using your internet and slowing your speeds down.

•    Because you’re driving through peak hour traffic.


This tip is particularly relevant for cable broadband customers, but could apply to ADSL users as well. You may find your internet speed increases and decreases at particular times of day. If there are many people using the same ISP at your exchange, this could slow your internet speed down considerably. This is an argument to run your heavy downloads during off peak hours when your internet is running at a faster speed.

•    Because your hardware needs a fresh start.

An old one but a goody. This neat trick may also come in handy when your broadband connection drops out altogether. Try switching your modem, router and computer off then switching them all back on again. If you find your speeds improve, it may have just been a case of your devices needing to rejig themselves.

•    Something may be interrupting your Wi-Fi signal

 If you use a wireless modem or router, there may be something interrupting the signal between your modem/router and PC. This might not only be the solid walls sitting in between, but also other electrical appliances such as cordless phones or radios. Try repositioning your computer or router. The closer they can be together, the better (but of course this isn’t always practical). Some routers can extend their Wi-Fi signal further than others.

•    It may be time to upgrade your hardware


If your modem or router is a million years old, it may be time to upgrade. Newer models are being released all the time, with specifications becoming more impressive (and sometimes more complex), and prices getting more competitive.

•    Because your internet browser is super slow


Your web browser is your gateway to the internet. If it’s running slowly, your internet will run slowly. Some web browsers are faster than others; Firefox is faster than Internet Explorer and according to many tech sites, Google Chrome is “insanely fast.” Make sure you upgrade your browser to the latest version when web browser updates become available.

•    Because you’ve got 89439 web applications running in the background

When you run multiple web applications at once, you sacrifice your internet and computer speeds.

If you run too many web applications, the speed of both your internet and computer will be sacrificed. Some web applications start automatically, and you could be surprised by what applications are secretly running in the background. Check the settings of these web applications (Windows updates, email programs, Skype, other webpages...) and make sure they don’t start automatically. These settings will also help to keep your download and upload usage to a minimum.

 

If you're having trouble working out why your internet is so slow and want to consider a new fast connection, call us on 1300 106 571.