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My broadband connection is poor, how can I improve it?

Broadband speeds can vary dramatically but there are a few things you can do to improve speeds.

First, check your broadband speed using this speed test.

If your connection is really slow (0 - 2Mb)

1. If your upstream is only 288Kb (0.288Mb), then you are on a very old package, and thus should upgrade and possibly get better speeds.

2. If you are on 0.576Mb or 1.152Mb or 2.272Mb, again consider changing package to improve speeds.

3. If you have an alarm fitted or a Sky box or external ringer (bell so you can hear phone across site when out of office), ensure that there's added a microfilter to each socket so that it doesn't interfere with your broadband.

It is not uncommon to see people on old slow packages jump from 0.5Mb to 2Mb or 3Mb, or with 10 minutes of testing, realise that they can go faster by adding a device called the i-Plate.

To find out whether or not you'll be able to get superfast fibre broadband for a specific property, use the line checker on your preferred supplier's website. Here's a list of communication providers currently offering or trialling superfast broadband for home or business.

Getting superfast broadband

You can check whether your local exchange is already part of BT's superfast broadband rollout plan at the BT Openreach website. BT is aiming to provide superfast fibre broadband for 40-80Mb to two thirds of the UK by the end of spring 2014.

The government has set a target for:

  • 90% of UK premises within each council district to have superfast broadband (at least 24Mb) by 2015; and
  • 100% of UK premises within each council district to have at least 2Mb by 2015
Local government is responsible for bridging the gap between BT's 'commercial' rollout and the government's targets, through 'local broadband projects'. In England, local councils at county and unitary level are responsible for local broadband projects. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the devolved administrations are taking the lead.
It is, however, doubtful whether the government's 2015 target will be met due to delays in procurement processes for local broadband projects.

Where to find information about your council's local broadband project

Nearly all local councils have broadband projects:

Once your exchange has been upgraded, you will still need to sign up for superfast broadband through a service providers. You will be able to see which service providers operate in your area at the links above.

Grant schemes for hard-to-reach areas

In England, For the 10% of hard-to-reach premises which will only get 2Mb broadband by 2015, the government's Rural Community Broadband Fund is available. Funding of £20m has been allocated for grants to communities.

If you're based in Wales, investigate the Welsh Assembly broadband support scheme, which provides grants of up to £1,000 for premises in broadband slowspots.

Other ideas for improvement and alternatives

  • As the demands on wifi increase, it may be worthwhile having two lines: one that is used for the site wifi, and another just for the office.
  • Trying different routers is a good idea: routers stocked by the big chain stores are often not up to the job
  • If you broadband speed is still low, you might want to investigate satellite access which may provide a more reliable system.
  • A leased line may be an option if your budget stretches to it

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