Quick tips for boosting home broadband speed

Boosting speed can transform activities like streaming, gaming and accessing cloud storage

Sunday, 28 June, 2020

When the history books are written about 2020, our newfound reliance on home broadband will be a footnote compared to the tales of lives lost and opportunities squandered.

However, the last three months of lockdown has forced families across the UK to adopt completely different ways of living.

We are currently more reliant on the internet than ever – for employment, entertainment, communication and even shopping.

As such, our broadband connections are under unprecedented strain.

And the sudden transfer of real-world activities like classroom-based learning onto the internet has cruelly exposed sluggish connection speeds in many homes.

While some postcodes have the option of adopting full fibre cable services, many of us are stuck with Fibre to the Cabinet line speeds of just 11Mbps.

Boosting home broadband speeds could be crucial in allowing family members to do the things they want online, regardless of anything else that connection is being asked to handle.

Quick tips for boosting home broadband speed

Disconnect non-essential devices. Even on standby, some web-enabled devices may be voracious consumers of bandwidth.

Unplug the Sky TV box when it’s not in use or recording programmes. Do you need a Hive heating system gobbling up bandwidth while you’re at home sitting next to a thermostat?

Ask your existing provider to assist. Most customers will already be on the fastest connection achievable along their domestic connection.

However, it’s worth asking if your ISP can help. They might be able to supply a newer router, identify faulty microfilters, or recommend switching to a less congested WiFi channel.

Reposition the router. Routers broadcast across two frequencies – 2.4GHz and 5GHz – which are also used by many other wireless devices.

Moving it away from a cordless phone, dimmer switch, baby monitor or TV could improve speeds. Try to position the router centrally in the house to achieve maximum coverage.

Invest in a new router. If your ISP won’t replace it, and it can’t cover every room in the house, a third-party router might be a worthwhile investment.

Unless you’re with Virgin Media, any router will distribute data wirelessly. And many will do it far more effectively than the generic hardware supplied by your ISP.

Download rather than stream. Many platforms allow the acquisition of content in advance, to be watched later instead of streamed on the fly.

Downloading a series overnight (while home broadband is otherwise unused) frees up bandwidth for other devices and people to use while the content is being consumed.

Reduce file quality. Another recommendation in the age of streaming media is to choose lower file quality – SD rather than HD, or HD in lieu of 4K content.

The difference is rarely noticeable once you’re immersed in a programme or film. But the amount of data required is far lower, alleviating pressure on slower connections.

Hardwire as many devices as possible. It’s inefficient to have an Ethernet-equipped TV or computer sitting beside a router and communicating with it via WiFi.

Ethernet cables and Powerline adaptors are faster, more stable and more secure than WiFi. Plus, every device hardwired into a router reduces pressure on the wireless network.

Reboot the router. Our final tip for boosting home broadband speed is simply to tackle the issue of broadband routers slowing down over time.

Turning it off and on again doesn’t just give the hardware a chance to cool down. It allows firmware updates, clears cache memory and resolves wireless issues.

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!