Common broadband myths exposed

Common broadband myths range from misunderstandings to absurdities, and separating fact from fiction is vital for consumers

Tuesday, 26 October, 2021

Everyone loves a good urban myth.

Whether you’re claiming that dialling 999 and hanging up recharges mobile phone batteries, or repeating the fable about a yawning hippo that swallowed a dwarf, it’s fun to mythologise.

Unfortunately, the technical nature of internet connectivity means consumers routinely struggle to tell fact from fiction.

Indeed, in a recent survey conducted by ISP Zen Internet, some fairly implausible theories were widely believed – suggesting there are plenty of common broadband myths in circulation.

Below, we consider a few of the most common broadband myths, and explain whether or not they’re based on anything more than folklore.

Hitting your router improves connectivity. Status: False

This is believed by 16 per cent of 16-24 year olds, who may be recalling parental tales of banging the top of the telly to stabilise a scrolling picture.

Hitting your router with a handy object (or even a hand) would only be beneficial if it managed to jolt a loose wire back into place. In reality, it’d almost certainly make things worse.

Turning off the camera on video calls improves connectivity. Status: True

This does have some validity, since your broadband connection only has to process audio data, rather than video as well. This might be helpful if you’re on a sluggish ADSL broadband deal.

However, any benefit would be outweighed by unplugging a smart device like a home heating hub or TV set top box, which may consume considerable bandwidth even on standby.

Staying with my existing ISP is cheaper than switching. Status: False

ISPs regularly offer introductory rates and deals, often bundled in with tempting triple-play or quad-play contracts, which then expire and default to a higher standard price.

Taking a look at the best broadband deals listed on this site from rival providers will almost certainly reveal broadband packages which are more affordable than your existing out-of-contract package.

UK broadband is slower than most other nations. Status: False

Our patchwork-quilt of connectivity means the UK’s connection speeds are slower than in most European nations, but globally, we do pretty well.

Developing nations can’t compete with our full fibre infrastructure, and even wealthy countries like Italy, Bahrain and Australia endure slower average download speeds than we do.

I don’t need full fibre broadband. Status: True (usually)

Few consumers need gigabit connectivity, or the symmetrical upload and download speeds delivered by full fibre. In most UK households, Fibre to the Cabinet is quite sufficient.

There aren’t many families where a full fibre broadband deal is genuinely needed or necessary. However, it’s certainly nice to have lightning-fast page loading times and seamless streaming/gaming.

Routers emit radiation. Status: False

Our sister site has previously covered the phenomenon of unfounded 5G rumours, and there’s no basis to the claim that WiFi routers are pumping out harmful radiation.

The only thing they emit is a tiny amount of heat, and a little light from any visible LED bulbs. You could sit beside a router for the rest of your life and not be irradiated by it.

Neil Cumins author picture


Neil is our resident tech expert. He's written guides on loads of broadband head-scratchers and is determined to solve all your technology problems!