Why is my Internet Slow?
Slow internet is one of the most common complaints when it comes to IT, but for good reason – it can seriously drag your productivity down and affect your business’ workflow. In this article, we’ll explore a little more behind what’s classed as slow internet, why this happens, and what can be done to get you working at faster speeds.
Firstly, what do we mean when we say slow?
Speed for internet connections is often measured in Mbps (megabits per second). This is a rate of data flow and is often mistaken for MBps (megabytes per second); the difference being a byte consists of eight bits making MBps eight times faster than Mbps.
To keep things consistent all speeds in this article will be listed in Mbps.
For some context, the Global Index ranked Australia as 55th in the world for fixed broadband in December with an average download speed of 25.88 Mbps. The list was based on data from 129 countries, and the average download speed globally is 40.71 Mbps.
Please note that in this article we are only listing download speeds to save confusion; upload speeds often increase and scale with download speed.
Ok, so why is my internet so slow?
Bottlenecks are to blame – in a home or business network there are several stages data has to get through for it to reach your device.
In a standard business environment it typically it goes like this:
- For a wired connection: The internet service provider (ISP)’s line from the street → Modem/Router → Switch → PC
- For a wireless connection: The ISP’s line from the street → Modem/Router → Switch → Access Point → PC
Often you will find the slowest part of the network will be the connection out to the ISP, otherwise known as the line speed. Depending on your type of connection it can vary from 1mbps to 100mbps or higher, all depending on what connection type you have and the speeds available. A lot of small businesses still rely on ADSL connections which average around 8 Mbps (which is enough for a single HD YouTube video stream but not enough for an office, even though this is around 125 times faster than traditional dial-up).
Adoption of new technology that allows for greater speeds and the slow rollout of these technologies is why Australia is ranked as 55th in the world for our internet.
How do I fix this?
NBN, simple but disruptive. The fact is there is downtime associated with changing over, the negative press makes people hesitant to swap and the technology cluster makes it difficult to understand.
However, the benefits speak for themselves.
Here’s a brief overview of all the common NBN connection types:
- VDSL (also known as FTTN or FTTC) is effectively an upgrade to ADSL, uses the same copper phone lines. Your download speed can be boosted to between 15-70 Mbps.
- Fixed Wireless is a connection provided via a local cell tower. This involves the installation of a box and dish and can often get speeds of 50 Mbps with higher tier 100 Mbps options slowly becoming available.
- HFC or Hybrid Fibre Coaxial is a technology that delivers connection via coaxial cable, otherwise known as TV cable. This can boast speeds up to 100 Mbps and higher.
- Fibre is the be all and end all when it comes to connectivity. It involves a fibre-optic cable running to your house and terminating to a device on your premises, that then provides connection to your modem/router. This is the most flexible when it comes to speed with some providers soon to offer 1000 Mbps, and most still opting for 100 Mbps at the time of writing.
So why mention other lines and devices, if the line speed is the issue?
Because line speed from your ISP is not always the root cause of your speed issues, often old or inefficient network equipment or devices can also be to blame.
If your router is unable to take advantage of the line speed, the issue is not your internet connection but your router. The same goes for WiFi, switches and cabling too.
WiFi is susceptible to interference and dropouts and loses speed with the distance you are from your access point (and often poor implementation or driver support on devices can also cause problems). Older switching gear and routers may be limited in processing power or speeds offered and only offer 100 Mbps for wired connections instead of the now common 1000 Mbps speeds. Problems with PC drivers or other system features and older machines may experience issues even if the connection is fast and the internet connection is solid.
Online speed tests, while readily available, are often inaccurate as they require all these factors being accounted for as well as being the only device downloading or uploading on the connection to end up with an accurate result.
It’s clear from all this that there are a number of factors involved which affect your internet speed including your environment and requirements, and that it can be a multifaceted issue.
Luckily, we’re here to help!
If your slow internet is driving you crazy, contact us today on 1300 228 480 to discuss your needs and get up to speed.