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Why fibre speeds can sometimes differ from those advertised
22/10/21
Why fibre speeds can sometimes differ from those advertised

You’ve put in a fancy new internet line, but something isn’t quite right. You were promised a high-speed connection that is able to handle HD streaming on multiple devices at the same time. But your son’s computer games won’t load, and your daughter is complaining that her favourite series is lagging. Something is wrong. Your fibre speeds don’t seem to match what was advertised. 

There are many reasons why this can happen. The problem could be something on your side (don’t worry, we’ll go into some ways you can check or fix these issues). Or it could be that your Internet Service Provider (ISP) has sold you something that isn’t quite what you were expecting. 

Some ISPs cap, throttle, shape, or impose contention ratios on their lines. In simple terms, they limit the amount of internet you get or share your internet line with your neighbours. Luckily, at WonderNet, we guarantee that these things won’t happen. Let’s look at some easy things you can do to make sure your internet speeds are at their best.  

WiFi signal strength

Internet speeds can vary; there are a number of factors that can affect your upload and download speeds. One of the easiest things to check is your WiFi signal strength. This will change depending on how close your device is to your WiFi router and how well your device can pick up the WiFi signal.

If your signal strength is low, then try moving your device closer to your router. The material of your walls can make a difference. Thin walls or partitions made of plasterboard allow more signal through than a brick and cement wall. Test your device in different positions to see where signal strength is the best. 

Metal can block your signal, so avoid putting your device or router on a metal desk. If there is a metal wall or partition between your device and your router, this can cause interference to your signal. The best way to ensure the best possible signal strength is to connect your device directly to your router using a LAN cable. This will help you to minimise interference from outside sources. 

Number of users and network congestion

Depending on the speed of the fibre line you choose, a low-speed line (eg. 25 Mbps) may work optimally with only two to three users. Some connections can handle up to 15 users, but these can be slow. If too many users are simultaneously connected, your internet speeds will be affected. Make sure that you get the right speed line for the number of users in your household. There are some other external factors to consider. 

If you have a good internet line but want to download something from someone who doesn’t have a good internet connection, this will definitely affect your speeds. Uploading and downloading is a two-way conversation, so even if your internet line is state-of-the-art, the other person might still be stuck in the Middle Ages with an ADSL line. 

Another thing to consider is that there may be unwanted users connected to your WiFi. Perhaps your teenage neighbour has guessed that your password is “password123” and is now downloading pirated films using your connection. Make sure to set your password to something that isn’t easy to guess or hack. Strong passwords include both upper and lower case letters, special characters or punctuation, and numbers. G00d_Pas3wordz are harder to crack. 

Hardware to improve fibre speed

Presumably, if you just installed a new fibre line, you also got a brand new router. If you opted for a second-hand one, then this could be the cause of your slower-than-expected internet speeds. Old routers may be faulty or not capable of handling the signal strength offered by your ISP. 

If the last owner set up their router in a spot that gets direct sunlight, then the inside components may have been affected. Consider upgrading to a new router if this appears to be the cause of your issues. 

If your router is new, then the next step is to check the cables. Make sure that they are not damaged in any way. Also, check that everything is firmly plugged in. If your cables aren’t in perfect condition, then it is definitely time to replace them. 

Continuing along the hardware path, the next stop is your device itself. If you bought your device around the time that the FIFA World Cup came to South Africa, then you need to ditch that dinosaur and get something new. Old devices may not be able to pick up internet signals as effectively as newer ones. 

You could, however, have the complete opposite problem. You may have the latest computer, as well as a state-of-the-art flat screen internet television. If your TV is connected to the internet, this could be consuming a lot of bandwidth, slowing down your connection to your other devices. 

Software issues

Similar to having a TV taking up your bandwidth, you may also have mobile phone apps running in the background that you don’t know about. If you run a lot of internet-connected apps at the same time, download speeds will be affected. Check on the task manager to see what programs and apps are running on your device. 

If you don’t have good anti-virus software, get something! Malware and viruses can infect your device and chomp up your internet for breakfast. Some malware can run in the background without you knowing it. Viruses can download from the internet and take up a lot of bandwidth, thus slowing down your internet speeds. 

Make sure your anti-virus software is up-to-date. And while you are at it, also check that your operating system and web browsers are also recent. Keeping everything in good working order means that your device is in the best possible shape and can handle the lightning-fast internet speeds you dream about. 

Contention ratios affect advertised speeds

If you’ve checked your hardware, software, rebooted and updated everything, you may need to take a look at your ISP. As we described earlier, some companies may impose limits on their fibre lines and this can dramatically affect the advertised speed of your connection. In a nutshell, a contention ratio is how many households are using the same fibre line as you. 

A contention ratio of 20:1 means that there are twenty households connected to one line. If you get a 100MBps line, you will share those megabytes with 20 other households. At peak times, such as in the evening when everyone is streaming the latest series, then speeds can slow down. 

WonderNet, you’ll be glad to know, does not have any form of bandwidth contention on their fibre lines. While your internet speeds may fluctuate slightly because of other issues, it won’t be because you’re sharing your bandwidth with your nosy neighbours. 

Optimising fibre speed

Internet speeds can differ from those advertised, so check that you are doing everything you can to optimise these speeds. Sit closer to your router, or better still, connect your device to your router using a LAN cable. Make sure your hardware and software are all up-to-date, including your anti-virus software. Set a strong password and ensure that there aren’t too many users connected to your line. 

If you are using a dodgy internet service provider that has a high contention ratio, then know that this will slow down your connection. Consider moving to a more reputable ISP like WonderNet. 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.

WonderNet brings affordable broadband internet to South African homes. We work alongside leading fibre network providers to maximise our reach and to offer fast, reliable and secure internet connectivity to your home. We are owned by SEACOM; one of Africa’s top information and communications technology (ICT) companies with an expansive network of subsea cables, landlines and fibre connections. WonderNet strives to offer the best customer service in the country. We will go above and beyond to ensure that our customers are satisfied with their internet access.

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