Broadband Speed Guide - XINIX

Broadband Speed Guide

Broadband Speed Guide

Many people that have subscribed to broadband services are disappointed, because they simply do not enjoy the speeds that they expected. This frustrates them, because they thought that the very fact they pay more for the service would improve the speed of their connections. This guide aims to explain issues about broadband speed. We discuss the factors that influence the speed, reasons why the speed varies and what you can do to improve matters.

Why are broadband speeds important?

It is important to understand just exactly what broadband speed is before you can hope to do something about it. After all, the main reason why you upgraded from a dial-up connection to broadband is because you wanted a faster connection, right? You wanted websites to download quicker, emails to be received faster and you may want to watch video clips or listen to music.

Another advantage of a faster connection is that you can upload much faster than with a dial-up connection. Uploading is when you transfer files from your own computer to the Internet.

One example would be when you want to upload a home video to YouTube, where it would be available for other people to view. In some cases it is simply not feasible to upload or download files unless you have a high speed connection. With a dial-up connection, for example, it would take an unacceptable long time for even a short video to download or upload. Another great advantage of fast connections is that more than one computer can use the connection at the same time. This saves money. In fact, in order to truly make the most of everything offered by the internet it is imperative to have a fast connection: broadband.

How do you measure broadband speed?

Your broadband speed can differ from time to time due to several factors. We discuss those factors elsewhere in this guide. Speed is measured in Kbps (Kilobits per second) or Mbps (Megabits per second). The more bits per second you can download the faster your connection. The older dial-up connections offered speeds of 56Kbps and the most basic broadband connection speeds of 512Kbps. This is ten times the speed of a dial-up connection!

Determine your broadband speed needs

Many people fall for β€œnever to be repeated deals” and enter into contracts for packages that simply do not suit their needs and paying for services they simply do not use. It is important to determine your personal needs before entering into any type of agreement. Xinix makes the following recommendations that are based upon your usage needs.

  • Light broadband users. If you use the internet infrequently and if you are used to a dial-up connection you don’t need a high speed connection. Many of the entry-level broadband packages offer speeds of 512Kbps which is ten times faster than your old dial-up connection. This will probably more than suit your needs. If your needs change you can always upgrade to a faster connection at a later stage.
  • Medium broadband users. You can consider yourself a medium user if you access the internet every day to check your emails, to browse a few web sites and download music or video material from time to time. You may need to upload files and graphic material every now and then. You will be satisfied with speeds of around two to four Megabits per second.
  • Heavy broadband users. You are a heavy broadband user if you spend several hours each day on the internet. You probably download many videos and music, you listen to internet radio stations and you upload photographs and files regularly. You may spend a lot of time on social networks. You may be an online gaming fan. In this case speed will be important to you and you will need speeds of at least 4Mbps or more.
Which factors have an influence on your broadband speed?

A number of surveys have revealed that consumers that have signed on for packages that promise speeds of up to 8MBps actually enjoy only 2 to 3 Mbps. In many other cases speed tests have shown that numerous users do not enjoy speeds much higher than dial-up speeds. It is only natural that this state of affairs frustrates users!

There are a number of factors that can be the cause behind lower speeds.
  • The distance from the exchange. This is the biggest factor that can influence your speed. The further away you are from the exchange the slower your connection will be and vice versa. You have to live very close to the exchange to enjoy speeds of up to 8Mbps. BT reckons that approximately 78% of their users enjoy minimum speeds of 4Mbps. This factor is only valid for ADSL connections (broadband through a telephone line) and is not applicable for cable broadband services. Use our broadband speed test to see what the speed in your area is.
  • The exchange contention ratio. Your connection may be slow when your exchange have to deal with a lot of downloads simultaneously or simply when the exchange is very busy. Service providers often use contention ratios; this limits the number of users that can use the exchange at any given time. The ratio is normally around fifty to one. Other service providers such as Eclipse give priority to users that are subscribed to certain packages.
  • The number of connections in your home. Wireless connections are certainly extremely cost effective and convenient, but the more people that are connected the slower the connection will be.
  • The quality of your cables and modem. If your cables are outdated or if they have a low capacity you will not be able to connect at high speeds. Many service providers offer free modems and cables with their packages.
  • The weather conditions. Thunder storms, extreme heat and a number of other severe weather conditions can have a marked impact upon your connection speed.
  • Disconnections. Your connection speed can remain slow if you were disconnected for one reason or another or even if you made a bad connection. It may help to manually disconnect and connect again every day for a few days. This will help your browser to synchronize with the service provider again. You may need to contact your service provider for advice.
  • Viruses, Spyware and Malware. If your computer is infected by viruses or any other malign components your connection speed will most certainly suffer. Make sure that you always have an up-to-date virus protection system on your computer.
  • The time of the day. The internet also has busy times and slack times. During peak usage, the connection will be slower. This is normally between 18:00 and 23:00.
  • The website capacity. You will experience slow connections when you try to access busy websites. The more people that are accessing the same site at the same time the slower the download speed will be.
How to test your broadband speed

There are numerous speed test services available. Care should be taken, however, because many of them are rather unreliable: they only test the speed as it is at that particular moment. Many service providers also offer speed tests but some people warn that these often produce false results that are designed to make the speed look better than it actually is!

Xinix offer you a reliable speed test service that will measure your average speed accurately. Our service performs a number of tests on your connection in order to produce accurate results calculated from more than one test. One of the reasons why our service is so accurate is because it uses the system clock to measure your average download speed over a period of time. If you are in the United Kingdom our service will be able to produce accurate results regardless of who your broadband service provider is or where you are.

The speed test offered by is absolutely free! You do not have to download any software, you are not exposed to any risk of virus infection and you are not obliged to enter into any kind of agreement! All it does is to give you an honest and independent assessment of your download speeds.

What can you do if your speed is unsatisfactory?

There are a number of steps you can take if you are unhappy with your download speed:

  • Ask advice from your service provider. In many cases they are able to provide advice on measures that can be taken to increase the download speed. You have to understand, however, that their promises usually say speeds of β€œup to”. They do not guarantee the maximum speed advertised! Yet, they might be willing to upgrade your package if they think that you will switch to another service provider.
  • You may decide to sign on with another broadband service provider, but this will not guarantee better speeds and you will have to agree to another contract and another commitment for a fixed term.
  • If your speed is consistently below the advertised β€œup to” speed, you may simply decide to downgrade your package to one that do not offer the higher speeds. In this way you can at least save money.
  • Never make drastic changes bases upon a single speed test because the weather and other factors can cause speeds to vary.

If your broadband service provider cannot solve your problems and if you decide that it would be best to move to another service provider, recommend that you use our Broadband Comparison page to compare the various packages on offer or call us free on 0800 5200 300


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