The Independent’s journalism is supported by our readers. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission. Why trust us?

Why is my internet so slow, and how can I fix it?

Looking for cheap broadband? Compare prices from top providers and get a great deal

Are you trying to binge Netflix but your internet is too slow? A slow broadband connection is at the top of modern-day frustrations – but it doesn’t have to be. 

Get to the root of your internet woes with our guide. We’ve put together a troubleshooting guide to help you find out why your internet is so slow and how to fix it.

Why is my internet so slow?

Broadband speed can be affected by various factors, including your broadband provider, the area that you live in and an incorrect router setup. Some may come with a quick fix, while others won’t. 

  • Peak internet hours are between 8pm and 10pm, according to Ofcom. During this time, average internet speed drops, and it’s likely you’ll only receive the average minimum speed from your provider
  • The number of connected devices can affect your broadband speed. More devices using the internet, such as laptops, phones and game consoles, means a slower speed 
  • Internet outage in your area. This could either be an outage in your neighbourhood or just at your home. You can usually check with your provider or Ofcom if there are any issues in your area
  • Your router setup can cause slow internet connection if your wifi signal is obstructed by thick walls or placed in a corner where some of the signal is sent outside your home. If your router is old or its cables are worn, you’re also likely to have reduced internet speeds
  • Broadband speeds in your area play a big part in what your average speed will be. For example, London broadband speeds may differ from broadband in Hull, which is why you should compare deals for broadband in your area  
  • Broadband speeds promised by your provider determine the average speeds you can expect to receive – even during busy periods. If your internet is slow and your advertised speed is too, you may want to consider a superfast fibre broadband deal 

How to troubleshoot slow internet

If your internet speed is slow, you should first investigate by running a broadband speed test. This process measures your download and upload speeds. According to Ofcom data, the average broadband speed in the UK is 69.4Mbps – but your speed will depend on what your provider advertises.

Once you’ve run the speed test, double-check with your provider to confirm the promised speeds for your broadband deal. If you discover your speed is much slower, it’s time to contact your provider to find out why. Before you do, make sure that there are no issues with your provider’s service via its website and explore broadband issues in your area via Downdetector.

How can I fix slow internet speeds?

Fortunately, if your provider isn’t the cause of your slow internet, there are some quick fixes that you can try. 

  • Reboot your router: switch off your router by unplugging it, and wait for 15 to 30 seconds before plugging it back in. Wait a further few minutes before switching it back on 
  • Change router location: routers send out signals in all directions. If your router is obstructed by large furniture or thick walls, this will affect your internet speed. Place your router off the ground in a central area of your home. Have a play around with different spots to find the right one for you
  • Boost wifi signal: if your wifi signal is weak and doesn’t reach all areas of your home, you might benefit from a wifi extender. This tool boosts signal strengths to hard-to-reach areas and improves your speed
  • Disconnect unused devices: the more devices connected to your wifi, the slower your speeds will be. Most people have more than one phone, computer or iPad, so it’s easy to rack up several devices in a large household – disconnecting ones you’re not currently using should improve your speed 
  • Use an ethernet cable: while it’s not always convenient to sit close to your router, and not all devices are compatible with a wired connection, it does provide a faster and more stable connection
icons8-question-64

When you enter a broadband contract, both you and your provider have certain obligations outlined in the terms and conditions. 

 

If you have exhausted all of the above steps and tried to resolve the issue with your provider to no avail, you have every right to switch broadband providers

 

Switching broadband plans while still under contract usually involves fees. However, Ofcom consumer rights state that you can switch providers without exit fees if you’re not receiving the speeds you were promised.

Slow internet FAQs

The average broadband speed in the UK is 69.4Mbps – a decent speed for general usage and streaming. A good broadband speed is crucial if you’ll be downloading content, streaming or using video calls. Ideally, your average speed should be 60Mbps or more. If you’re only sending emails and browsing the web, 30Mbps should suffice. You’ll want to find a broadband deal with average speeds of 100Mbps or more for heavy internet usage such as online gaming. 

Most providers offer fibre and full-fibre broadband deals. Sky, BT and Vodafone offer some of the fastest broadband speeds, reaching 900Mbps or more. Virgin Media delivers its broadband through its own cable network, and its fastest deal – Gig1Fibre – boasts average speeds of 1,130Mbps. 

Sometimes, broadband providers cap or throttle your connection to manage network traffic. To maintain adequate internet speeds in your area, your provider may subtly throttle your internet speed. Telltale signs that your connection is being throttled could be buffering when streaming, slower than usual download speeds, an unstable wifi connection and particular websites or services running slower than usual. 

rachel

Rachel Sadler

Home Tech Writer

Rachel is a seasoned writer who has been producing online and print content for seven years. 

As a home tech expert for Independent Advisor, Rachel researches and writes buying guides and reviews, helping consumers navigate the realms of broadband and home security gadgets. She also covers home tech for The Federation of Master Builders, where she reviews and tests home security devices. 

She started as a news and lifestyle journalist in Hong Kong reporting on island-wide news stories, food and drink and the city’s events. She’s written for editorial platforms Sassy Hong Kong, Localiiz and Bay Media. While in Hong Kong she attended PR events, interviewed local talent and project-managed photoshoots. 

Rachel holds a BA in English Language and Creative Writing and is committed to simplifying tech jargon and producing unbiased reviews.

Molly Dyson

Editor

After growing up with a passion for writing, Molly studied journalism and creative writing at university in her home country of the United States.

She has written for a variety of print and online publications, from small town newspapers to international magazines. Most of her 10-year career since relocating to the UK has been spent in business journalism, writing and editing for admin professionals at PA Life magazine and business travel managers at Business Travel News Europe and representing those titles at conferences around the world.

Now an Editor at the Independent Advisor, Molly is an expert in a broad range of consumer topics, that include solar panels and renewables, home improvements and home insurance, and consumer technology such as home security and VPNs.

In her free time, Molly can usually be found exploring the outdoors with her husband and their young son or gardening.