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My broadband seems painfully slow - is there anything I can do?

(9 Posts)
IrishDraught Wed 16-Sep-09 20:21:47

When I moved here AOL said I had to downgrade as I couldn't get 8mb (?) here but I just did a speed test and it came back with 120kbps download and 45 kbps upload speed - is that awful? Pages take forever to work, it's usually quicker on my mobile USB thingy! Can I speed it up?

WebDude Thu 17-Sep-09 17:37:14

Those speeds are very, very, very low.

1. Do you know if neighbours get higher speeds? Are you in an urban or rural area ? There is a chance that instead of copper, aluminium has been used for some/most of the link to the exchange.

If all your neighbours are getting low speeds too, there may be some issue at the exchange. It's quite easy to check which exchange you are on using SamKnows and if you post the short code (4 to 8 letters, the first two are BT's 'region' code, like WNxxx is for Wales North and the xxx part for the town/locality)

2. Is it possible there are extra extensions in the house that are not used/ wanted ? A friend of mine switched from a corded phone upstairs to using a cordless phone downstairs, and his speed changed from 2.5 Mbps to 3.5 Mbps simply by unplugging the upstairs extension. Sometimes an extension has an extra wire, commonly called the 'bell wire' and this can introduce noise, which messes with the ADSL modem and the speed is reduced.

Just a couple of starting points. Perhaps more suggestions later, depending on your comments.

Ivykaty44 Thu 17-Sep-09 17:38:00


IrishDraught Thu 17-Sep-09 21:07:40

Live in a pretty urban area. We do have an extension put on (by SKY?) but I think it's split outside rather than an extension added on inside (if that makes sense) - maybe that has done it? It doesn't even work though hmm Thankyou for your help, I will check the exchange I use

WebDude Fri 18-Sep-09 04:28:30

The extension added by Sky might have wire running around the outside, but that's only for the convenience of not having to go through various rooms in the house, at a guess (in a bungalow, it is sometimes easier to go up into the loft and down in the lounge, but then again there's the risk of the chap putting his size 12 through a ceiling if he misses a joist)!

That does sound like a candidate, though of course with Sky they expect you to have the box plugged in 24x7. If I were you I'd look for the socket where the extension has been plugged in by Sky - it should be removable else they are messing with the BT side (I won't try to explain right now what implications that would have). Anyway, it should be possible to just unplug the link to where the Sky box is, if only for a few days, so you can see if your speed increases.

I'd suggest checking your speed on (in the upper right of the page it says 'Broadband Speed Test' on the third box down.

Do that before unplugging the extension, and an hour or two after unplugging the extension, but keep a note of what each report says (and jot down that the second is with the Sky extension unplugged).

Did AOL supply you with a router or did you choose your own? It would be an idea to 'login' on your router and check the speed of the connection on that, too, before and after. If you don't know how to find the connection speed, there's information on the website, but I'll try to help too.

When the extension is unplugged, you might initially get absolutely no change in either the ThinkBroadband speed test, or the connection speed reported by the router.

That's because (with luck) your ADSL will have stayed connected while you unplugged the extension.

Once you have been able to see the connection speed on the router, you'll be in a better position to know if unplugging the Sky extension makes a difference.

Unfortunately, and this is where we need to get a bit technical, the network links from back to AOL may have set low data rate limits for now, because it makes the network (and your connection) more reliable if data only reaches your exchange at a speed your modem can cope with.

WebDude Fri 18-Sep-09 06:03:34

I've put a browser window copy online which shows an ADSL router's "ADSL Status" page. Each router is slightly different in how it shows this information - I will try to get an image from a Netgear (which is what a neighbour uses in case that is closer to what you have) but here goes:

* the upper part is fairly common, reporting the connection as working (SHOWTIME seems to be what most routers display!) and how long the connection has been "up" (14 hours is unusually short - I was expecting this router to have been connected for weeks - it's one of my clients in S Wales but then again, his wife might have switched it off to hoover his office ... never know!)

* the SNR Margin is a measure of how strong the ADSL signal is compared with 'noise' on the line. It needs to be above 6dB on the Downstream for a router to stay connected reliably.

* Below it is the 'Line Attenuation' figure (37 dB in this case, which is fairly good). This is the signal loss and depends on the length of the line from the exchange, and whether the line is of good quality.

In the past there were limits on how high a signal loss could be for a person to be allowed to use 1 Mbps or 2 Mbps. If the signal loss is above 60 dB then they used to restrict a user to the slowest speed of 500 kbps (about 4 times your current speed).

* Further down is 'Data Rate' which is the speed of the connection between the ADSL router and the local exchange. Since AOL has downgraded your connection (to guarantee it working, albeit at a lower speed, rather than problems all the time with disconnections) then the connection speed shown on the router may be 576/288 or even 288/288 (these are a bit higher than the normal data rates of 512/256 or 256/256 because some of the traffic is for error correction etc).

WebDude Fri 18-Sep-09 06:16:47

In your case since AOL has noted poor speed and made adjustments to your connection, then the Data Rate may be 'locked' to a low speed, as indicated in an earlier post, to try to give a stable connection.

Assuming that is the case, then the course of action I'd recommend is to keep a screen shot of your router status while the Sky extension is plugged in, and take a note of the Line Attenuation figures.

Then, unplug the Sky extension, and again take a screen shot, and note the figures.

Then (perhaps an hour later) check the figures and see if they are the same, or have changed.

If they line attenuation is about the same, then unplug the phone line from the router (or switch it off completely, if you prefer) Wait for 5 to 10 minutes (get yourself a cuppa, you deserve it, following my suggestions!) and then plug it back in /turn on again.

Now get the router status and see if there are changes. Get a screen dump (the screen dumps are in case you get asked by AOL for proof that there has been a change, and for Sky, if they get miffed about you unplugging the extension!)

WebDude Fri 18-Sep-09 06:22:48

What I hope will happen is that after you have unplugged the Sky extension, you will see some changes to the line attenuation figures.

If that's the case, and the numbers show a moderate or large difference, then it goes a long way to suggest the extension is causing the problems. Depending on the figures, you might be able to get Sky to come (free) to fix it, hopefully getting some other installer!

If there's little or no change, then something else might be giving noise on your line (anywhere that the phone line goes past some mains cabling, or a source of electrical noise, might be the problem... in the winter months it's even possible for the flashing of Christmas tree lights to cause noise on the ADSL link and give problems, and all year round if there's an electric fence on a farm, causing noise on the phone line).

WebDude Fri 18-Sep-09 07:34:37

just one more thing ... sorry but have to ask - do all your phone sockets where phones (or the Sky box, for example) have ADSL filters fitted ?

Have you tried unplugging every item except for the ADSL router, so you can be sure nothing in the house is causing a problem ?

I know Maplins and PC World may charge up to 15 quid for an ADSL filter, but there's a well- established firm called Solwise near Hull which sells filters at under 2 pounds and won't cost the earth for delivery, in case you find a socket with a phone in but no filter, or find a filter isn't working well.

(Sorry, it is obvious to some people, but I have had clients buy an extra phone and plug it in with no filter, then wonder why their internet goes off each time they pick up that phone, and why it has a hiss when they use it.)

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