Summer is on its way at last – a time of year many of us spend the rest of the year looking forward to.
But if your broadband connection is already at its limits due to poorly-sited hardware, an old infrastructure or the wrong contract, summer can seriously limit your ability to get online.
There can be many reasons for the summertime broadband blues.
Time off work or school might mean more people in your household are streaming bandwidth-intensive media, including films and TV.
All of a sudden, the connection you rely on without thinking becomes sluggish and less responsive.
In summer, you might spend more time in the garden, but find that because you’re further away from the router, you soon lose WiFi.
Add a high-profile and much-streamed event like Wimbledon, a royal wedding or a World Cup into the mix, and you have a recipe for connection failure.
Fortunately, you can boost your broadband signal – and it doesn’t always mean having to change your provider or contract…
Do you have the right deal?
It’s not always your provider’s fault if your broadband is slow. But it might be.
If in doubt, you should check your current broadband contract and the alternatives in your area.
Under Ofcom regulations your broadband provider should have given you basic information about your deal, including likely speeds.
If your connection falls short of this, you may be able to cancel your current contract and get something better.
If you’re not sure whether fast services like fibre broadband are available locally, our postcode availability checker might be helpful.
However, you may well find that your provider is not to blame, and you need to take practical steps to boost your own connection.
How to boost your broadband
Before you reach for the Ethernet cables and drills, or start shopping for signal repeaters and mesh systems, consider whether your home network would benefit from a few basic tweaks.
If your WiFi is not password protected, make sure nobody else is using it – sharing or stealing your bandwidth.
Use the task and application managers on your devices to identify and close down any programs that are not currently being used, but are still running in the background.
You may be surprised how many applications you have running (and using bandwidth) without realising it.
It can also be helpful to delete all your old files and your browser history, and to close down (rather than minimise) any open internet tabs you’re not currently using.
If that doesn’t work, think about moving your router.
Many things can stand between a router and a device, reducing signal quality. These include closed doors and windows, microwaves, landline phones, mirrors and even fish tanks.
The signal generally improves as your device gets closer to the router, but if you need to be sunbathing or barbecuing in the garden, try to ensure there are no barriers between the two.
If there are parts of your home which the signal doesn’t reach, you could invest in a wireless repeater or booster, Powerline adaptors or a mesh system.
Bear in mind that these extend the reach of the signal, but they won’t boost your broadband speed any more than turning on a hosepipe will improve limited water pressure.
If you don’t need to move your device around, using an Ethernet cable to connect will often improve quality.
If you need to move around and have a mobile contract with enough data, you can tether your phone via Bluetooth to another device, and effectively use that phone as your router.
The data used will be charged to your mobile contract, of course.
This can also be handy if you go away for the summer and find yourself in a location without WiFi.
Whichever solution you choose, it is worth remembering that if you have broadband issues due to summer usage, these are likely to recur.
When the summer is over, it might be a good idea to sit down and take a full inventory of your broadband contract and provision, and compare these to the other options available.
That way, when summer comes around again, you should ready to enjoy every minute of it.