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When it comes to broadband in the home, there are a number of factors that can affect the speeds you’re able to achieve. Here are some of the main ones and some tips on how to improve your speed.
Wi-Fi or Ethernet: Most people now use Wi-Fi to connect some or most of their devices in the home. While Wi-Fi technology has significantly improved and continues to do so, the most accurate way to check your speeds is to connect your device directly to your modem/router via an Ethernet cable. You may find your speeds are significantly better via the Ethernet cable but it’s not always practical to connect this way. For devices that use Wi-Fi, you can improve speed by trying some of the below:
- Where is your router situated in your house? A Wi-Fi router will project a signal out in all directions that tends to weaken the further it travels. If possible, locate your router in the middle of the house at an elevated level. It’s also best to avoid having it sit directly next to any solid objects (walls, doors, etc) to allow the signal to travel as far as it possibly can without interruption.
- How far away is your device from the router? The further away you get from the router, the weaker the signal. Depending on what your house is made out of, the equipment you’re using and other factors, you may want to contemplate using additional hardware to extend your signal. There are many options available. Two great options are Wi-Fi extenders (self-explanatory) and Ethernet Over Power (EAP) adaptors. EAP’s allow you to transmit your internet signal through the electrical wiring in your home. If you’re using an EAP, each device must be connected to a power outlet.
- How many people are online at once? The number of Wi-Fi enabled devices in households is growing by the day. We have PC’s, laptops, tablets, set top boxes, smart TV’s and more. The more devices that connect to your internet connection, the slower it’ll be because they’re all sharing the bandwidth. The speed that comes into your home is not necessarily going to be the speed you see on your individual computer if you’re sharing it with the rest of your family or friends. This is particularly relevant if one of the users at home is downloading large amounts of data. While they’re downloading or streaming data, the speed will drop for everybody else. It might be a good idea to reserve big downloads for a quieter time in your family or roommates’ schedules.
- Which Wi-Fi channel are you using? Wi-Fi signals have the ability to interfere with each other so if you’re on the same Wi-Fi channel as your neighbours, you may be causing interference for each other. Thankfully, Wi-Fi interference is becoming less of a problem with the latest modems automatically changing the channel if it’s too ‘busy’. If your modem doesn’t automatically change channel, you can manually find the best channel and switch to it by logging in to your modem and changing your settings. Our Netgear CG3000v2 modem can actually show you which channels are most heavily used in your neighbourhood so you can avoid using the same channel as everyone else.
Your Modem and/or Router: The equipment you use and how well it’s maintained can significantly affect your speeds as well. Sometimes a simple reset of your modem/router can improve your overall service if it hasn’t been reset in a while. If you’re using an older modem/router it may also be time to upgrade. Optus supply a modem free of charge to new customers, but if the modem is out of warranty there may be a charge to upgrade it. It’s best to have a chat to our Tech Support team on 13 13 44 about your options.
Your wiring/cables: More often than not, the cause of sluggish speeds are due to the condition of your wires and cables. Over time, cables become faulty - hence the reason why you may experience dropouts and horrible speeds. You can check your wiring and equipment by replacing them and ensuring that they do not get tangled up. In some cases, your hardware may be at fault and require replacements or technical assistance. If you believe that your cables and wires are faulty, then please replace them as this prevents the risks of sparks and overheating your hardware.
Megabytes per second (MBps) or Megabits per second (Mbps): Measures used for speed can be confusing. A common mistake people make is misinterpreting the way their speed is measured. The general rule of thumb is that speed is measured in bits (little b) and storage is measured in bytes (big B) however this convention isn’t followed by all sites so it’s important to understand the difference.
Put simply, there are 8 bits to a byte. So, if a site ever shows your download rate is 2MBps, you’re actually downloading at approximately 16Mbps. Be sure to check this carefully as it can make a significant difference when reading speed test results or looking at how long a file may take to transfer.
Speeds advertised by Optus are always in Megabits per second (Mbps).
How are you measuring your speed?: With some connections now offering maximum download speeds of 100Mbps you may be wondering why you’re never able to achieve that when downloading your latest game, movie, tv show, etc. The reason is that you’re only able to download as fast as the source can upload the content to you. In most cases, it’ll be difficult to find a source that can provide you with 100Mbps speeds from their end. That doesn’t mean you won’t be able to fully utilise the bandwidth allocated to you. Get the full benefit of your speed by downloading from multiple sources simultaneously.
Speeds of those servers you’re accessing can also be affected by how many of their users are online and accessing their data at once. An example of this would be when a new concert or footy game is announced and the ticketing website loads slowly or crashes because too many people are trying to access it at once.
A good way to measure your download speed is to use the Optus speed test. This will give you a good estimation of what you’re able to achieve at any given time. Speeds will fluctuate so be sure to run a few of these tests over a 10 to 20 minute period to get a good understanding of your average speeds at that particular time of day.