Contact us Customer service: 0800 1388 388
0800 840 4949

Why is my internet running slow?

There are lots of reasons why your broadband speeds might be slower than normal, from service interruptions to the distance between your home and the nearest telephone exchange. This guide will help you troubleshoot your internet connection and find out whether you need to move to a faster service.

By on March 01, 2013 at 00:00 AM
Why is my internet running slow?

To find out exactly how your broadband is currently performing, why not try out our broadband speed test tool. Not only will you get a good idea of your current download speed, you'll also be provided with a list of suppliers in the area offering a service just as fast if not faster than your own.


Why are my broadband speeds lower than the advertised broadband speed?


Sometimes you'll find that speeds dip during peak hours when everyone in your local area seems to be at home streaming Masterchef over BBC iPlayer or watching a movie on LoveFilm, and sometimes a fluke service issue can disrupt service for a few hours, then things return to normal.

Actual broadband speeds are almost always slower than those advertised - that's why they are promoted as "up to" speeds, for example up to 20Mbps or up to 40Mbps. But why does this happen? A number of factors have a direct impact on broadband speeds: 

Troubleshooting a slow broadband connection

  • I live miles from my nearest exchange. The Distance between your home and your local exchange can have a massive effect on your broadband speed. The further data has to travel to reach your home the more it struggles to provide you with a reliable service, reducing download speeds to a crawl.
  • I use my internet most in the evenings and at weekends. If you go online at peak times, when most people use the internet, you may experience slower speeds. To provide a stable and equal service to all their customers, broadband providers apply traffic management restrictions at peak times (5pm - midnight on a weekday, and noon to midnight during weekends). This is also known as throttling or temporarily reducing the connection speed
  • I download or stream a lot of big files When you download a big file (for instance a high definition film) you will use up a lot of your bandwidth and should expect your other online activities to become much slower due to the strain on your connection. You might need to switch to a superfast broadband deal that gives you unlimited downloads and better deals - we can find the right deal for you if you call our free Switching Service
  • My neighbours recently switched to the same broadband provider as me. Your neighbours may be connected to the same internet provider as you and closer to the telephone exchange, taking up more of the available connection and putting a strain on the service
  • My service recently deteriorated a lot, but I don't know why. There may be a problem with your wireless router or phone line wiring, call your service provider and ask them to run tests on your connection to ascertain the problem

What can you do if you are not getting an acceptable broadband speed?

Get in touch with your broadband provider's customer service department - they should be able to check whether there are any obvious problems with your line, or whether you would benefit from an upgraded modem. Find your broadband provider's customer service number in our list.

If things don't improve you should consider:  

  • Upgrading to a package with faster speeds and a more generous allowance
  • If it is a premium package that is not delivering the speed advertised - you are likely to get a similar speed from a cheaper broadband deal and save yourself some money
  • Write a letter of complaint to your ISP. We show you how to do it effectively in our guide to resolving issues with your broadband provider.
  • Switching your broadband provider - this option can save you hundreds of pounds per year.

I want to switch to a better broadband deal with faster speeds

The quickest and easiest way to switch to a better broadband package is to call our free Switching Service. You'll speak to a friendly independent advisor, who will find the right deal for your household, and organise everything - even the installation date! You can call the Simplifydigital Switching Service 7 days a week.

Call for free advice and to switch providers

0800 840 4949

Calls are free from a landline

On a mobile? Call 0203 092 5174 for standard rates

Our call centre is now closed, we'll reopen tomorrow at 8am

You can: