The internet has become a daily necessity for most people and businesses. Normal life would not be possible without it, so many consumers choose a fibre optic connection due to its speed, reliability and value for money. Fibre is the fastest connectivity option available in South Africa, as well as being the most stable link to the internet.
However, some users may experience slower performance than usual from time to time. When this happens, there are usually four reasons why; bandwidth contention, signal interference, incompatible WiFi routers or slow devices. Of these possible reasons for slow internet speeds, only the first one is directly related to fibre optic cables.
1. Bandwidth contention
Some internet service providers (ISPs) share fibre optic cables between customers. This is known as contention and is often expressed as a ratio. A 10:1 contention ratio means that 10 users share one fibre cable. Each cable has a maximum bandwidth (or amount of data) that can be sent and received at one time. So, the more people sharing a cable, the smaller the portion of this bandwidth is assigned to each user and the slower the speed.
During peak hours, these users will experience slower internet than normal. Luckily, not all ISPs have contention ratios like this. WonderNet provides uncontended fibre internet, or a 1:1 contention ratio. This means that your fibre optic cable is dedicated to you alone. Our customers will not be affected by bandwidth contention. In addition, we offer uncapped and unshaped connections too, which ensures maximum connectivity speeds.
2. Signal interference
Now we reach the possible causes of slow internet that are caused by WiFi, whether at home or at the office. WiFi signals are essentially radio waves that bounce around the building until they reach a connected device, such as a smartphone or laptop. These signals weaken as they travel through space and can be affected by walls and large appliances.
Signal interference is probably the leading cause of slow internet. It is brought about by electromagnetic disruptions from large metal appliances, such as fridges and microwaves, but can also be affected by thick walls. Another cause of signal interference is multiple devices using the same or similar transmission channels to receive the WiFi signals.
As with radio stations, when their assigned frequencies are close together, you can sometimes pick up snippets of music or speech from another station. This happens with WiFi signals too, which causes unstable connection speeds.
3. Incompatible WiFi router
Not all WiFi routers are the same and some may be incompatible with your fibre line or connected devices. Most traditional routers will support fibre optic connectivity, but some older models may not be able to handle the high-speed nature of fibre data transmission. WonderNet offers a free WiFi router and installation with our fibre to the home packages, so this ensures that you won’t encounter this problem.
4. Slow devices
Another major cause of slow internet is the poor computing capabilities of your connected devices. A slow computer or phone will certainly affect the internet speed as the processors struggle to deal with fibre’s high-speed data. Many modern tablets, phones and computers are capable of processing large volumes of data at once, but if your internet seems slow, then don’t rule out this possibility.
How to improve slower internet speeds
There are a number of ways to improve your internet speed. Start by closing any unnecessary apps or programs. These could be draining much of your device’s processing power or using the internet in the background, without you knowing it.
You may also want to disable automatic updates on your devices while you use the internet. These updates often require considerable bandwidth and can affect the internet speed on other devices. Just remember to turn the updates back on when you’re not needing the internet.
You can always disconnect unused devices from your WiFi, such as a smart TV or unused computer. This will assign a greater portion of the bandwidth to the device that you are using, which will maximise the speed of connectivity and reduce signal interference. In addition, you can change your WiFi channel by restarting your router.
Lastly, if your connected devices are located far away from the WiFi router, you may need to buy a signal booster (or WiFi repeater). This will improve the coverage of the signal throughout your home or office and help to maximise internet speeds. For more information about our fibre offerings or to get a quote for an internet upgrade, please contact us today or check if we’re connected to your address.