Broadband Speed

The speed of your internet connection is affected by many things. Firstly, there may be a limit imposed by the broadband service provider, or a technical limit due to the setup and location of your broadband equipment.

Next, the speed will also be affected by the number of users sharing your internet connection.

In a typical domestic environment there may be numerous mobile phones, tablet, computers, gaming consoles all of which use the internet connection. The more of these present, and the more heavily they are using the internet, the slower the connection will appear for everyone. Remember that entertainment streaming systems like Netflix and NowTV etc. will use the internet connection quite heavily during use.

If you feel the internet connection is slow then try “Restarting the Router” as described previously. You can also check to see what other devices are also using the internet connection. Generally, video and audio streaming will use the internet most. Reducing the number of active devices will increase the speed for those left.

There are websites and apps that can check your current internet speed, but you have to know how to interpret the results and also know what is a “normal” speed for these to be of any use. However, if you have a working connection then try –

The results will be displayed as 3 values

  • Ping : time to send a request and receive a reply – smaller is better
  • Download : speed of receiving data from websites – higher is better
  • Upload : speed of sending data from your device – higher is better

Your actual speed will depend on the service available. Fibre broadband is faster than standard broadband and “Faster Fibre” will be faster still. The Upload speed will often be much lower than the download speed. This is normal and will not affect performance as you generally download much more data than you upload.

Typical UK Fibre Broadband speeds are  –

  • Ping : 12ms
  • Download : 32 MBps
  • Upload : 6  Mbps

The Ping is a time measurement in milliseconds. The Download and Upload figures represent the amount of data that can be moved per second and is shown as “Megabits per second” (where 1 Megabit is a million bits of data).

“Faster Fibre” will give better higher download and upload speeds.

A Virgin Media “Faster Fibre” speedtest result

Optimising Broadband Speed

If you feel your broadband is running slow then there are a couple of things you can try which might help.

First, restart the router. This can often help, especially if the router hasn’t been restarted for a while.

Next, make sure that you leave the router on 24/7 – don’t switch it off for extended periods (i.e. don’t switch it off every night and on again in the morning). Broadband service providers perform communications checks with routers and if your router does not repsond they may assume a fault on the telephone line and may reduce your broadband speed to compensate for this.

Use a network cable rather than WiFi where possible. Plug a network (“Ethernet”, “LAN” or “RJ45” cable) into one of the 4 yellow sockets at the rear of your router and connect this cable to the network socket on your laptop if the router is close enough to where you work from. A cable connection is always faster and more reliable than WiFi.

Rear view of typical router alongside an RJ45 Ethernet Cable

Try to place the router in a higher (e.g. on a shelf, not on the floor) location, central among the devices that connect to it. This ensures a stronger WiFi signal from the router. Also, try to place the router away from other electrical devices (e.g. televisions, baby monitors, audio systems) to reduce any possible electrical interference with the WiFi signal.

For best results the router should connect directly to the BT Master Socket where the telephone cable comes into the house. Don’t connect the router via telephone extension socket as this may reduce the speed.

Reduce the number of devices using WiFi. Phones, tablets, and “smart” devices all use WiFi. The fewer devices using WiFi, the faster the WiFi service will be to those remaining. Switch off or disconnect devices that don’t need to be connected. That streaming music service that you might listen to at home (e.g. via Alexa or an app on your phone) will use WiFi data too and will affect your speed.

Avoiding the Scammers

If you are monitoring your personal email on a computer also being used for working from home, then this may open an opportunity for scammers and other lowlife to attack your computer or data.

To be completely safe the rules are very simple. Unless you know who an email has come from AND you were expecting to receive an email from that person –

  • Do not open attachments sent with an email message
  • NEVER click on links contained within an email
  • Do not click on a link to a file sent to you from Office 365, Google Drive, or Dropbox

Scammers will spoof the email address of people you know (i.e. they make an email appear as if it has come from someone in your contact list). They will pretend to be from the Inland Revenue, or from Paypal, or Amazon etc. etc. If you suspect you have received a scam email from an organisation you know but you need to be sure, then do NOT click on links in the email but instead, login to the organisation’s website using the method you would normally use.

Typical “phishing” message – note the deadline to encourage you to act fast

If you receive ANY email from anyone that invites you to click on a link to “verify your identity” or to “update your account details” or “check your account activity” etc. etc. then do NOT click on the link.

If you receive an email telling you that someone has sent you a file that you can download from Dropbox, Google Drive or Office 365 by clicking on the link – do NOT click on the link.

If you receive an email with an attachment (usually a Word Doc or PDF) that claims to be an invoice or remittance advice from someone you don’t recognise – do NOT open the attachment.

Instead, check the email closely. There will usually be clues that it is a scam. There may be spelling or grammar mistakes (most scammers are not English speakers). Most genuine organisations will not contact you in this way. But if you are in any doubt, close the email then contact that organisation using the method you would normally use i.e. go to their website directly (not using the link), or open their app, or call them.

Another “phishing” email trying to pressure you into acting quickly to resolve an “issue”

Scammers may well know where you live – your address may be readily available on legitimate lists on the internet . They may have had access to your old passwords through website security breaches from the past (e.g. historical hacks into Facebook, Yahoo etc.) and be able to show you that password in their email to you. But that does NOT mean they have a video of you watching porn ! They are lying to scare you into making contact with them. Delete their messages and forget about it.

Do not download “freeware” (or free videos/music) unless you can trust the source 100%. Freeware is often free in order to attract you to download it, install it and also inadvertently install the malware that comes with it.

Finally, remember that just because something is listed in a Google search does NOT mean it is safe.

Scam Telephone Calls

If you have a landline telephone and are not generally at home during the day then you may be surprised by the number of scam telephone calls that you receive.

Follow these rules to minimise any problems with scam callers –

  • Microsoft will NEVER call you and the “Windows Technical Desk” does not exist
  • It is very unlikely that BT, TalkTalk, or Sky will ever call YOU about your service – it’s hard enough for you to get through to them
  • Any recorded message informing you of some “account problem” or that your “Amazon Prime account has been suspended ” will be a scam
  • Even if you have been involved in an accident recently, no one that is worth speaking to will call you about this

If you are not sure about a call but have to answer the phone anyway, then pick up the phone but do not speak immediately. Wait a few seconds. A genuine caller will talk at once but scammers commonly use computer-controlled diallers that wait until you reply before connecting you to a scam caller. If you don’t speak the dialler will hangup after a few seconds.

If you are not sure if a call is from a genuine organisation then simply hang up. Pause for thought. Make yourself a cup of tea or wait 10 minutes, then call the real organisation back using the number that you normally use to contact them and ask if they have been trying to contact you.

Don’t call back immediately. Sometimes a scammer will stay on the line for a minute after you hang up and may be able to intercept your immediate call. And never call back on any number that is suggested to you by the scammer – it will be a fake number that will connect you to another scammer.