The factors that affect internet speed

Most Aussie households now have multiple web-enabled devices, which means internet speeds have never been more important. If you’re stuck with slow internet at home, or want to make sure your connection will be fast after moving house, there are a number of things to keep in mind.

What internet speed do I need?

With many of us working from home more, as well as streaming shows and gaming in our downtime – speed’s often a big factor when searching for a provider and selecting a plan. Let’s take it back to basics, internet speed, or ‘bandwidth’, is expressed in Megabits per second, or Mbps. To help work out what speed you might need at home, here’s the bandwidth some common tasks require:

  • Skype HD video call: 1.5Mbps
  • General web browsing: 3Mbps
  • High Definition (720p) video streaming: 5Mbps
  • 4K video streaming: 25Mbps

What speeds are available?

Plans on the National Broadband Network (NBN) are available at speeds of 12Mbps, 25Mbps, 50Mbps and 100Mbps.

If you’ve got multiple people using your connection and doing many things at once, you’ll need more bandwidth to accommodate everyone. So it’s important to choose from a plan that suits your needs and the size of your household.

What’s slowing down my internet?

Here are five major factors that may be affecting your internet speed, and what you can do to improve it:

1. Connection type

Your internet speed depends largely on the type of connection you have. In Australia, there are six types of internet connections available:

  • Fibre
  • Cable
  • Fixed Wireless
  • Satellite
  • ADSL
  • Dialup

Between them there’s a lot of different technologies used and that means different speeds. Find out more about how Australian internet connections work and what that means for you.

2. Copper telephone lines

A weak point of an NBN connection is when there’s copper cable involved. As a signal travels through copper cable it weakens, so in general, the longer this distance, the more your connection speed drops.

With ADSL connections, your home is connected to your local telephone exchange through the copper wires of the telephone network. That means the closer you are to your exchange, the faster your internet can be.

Look at what happens to a 24Mbps ADSL2+ connection as it travels through more copper:

3. Network congestion

When everyone’s online, the internet can slow down. Modern networks are designed to handle a high volume of connections, but you may still experience reduced speed during peak hours of internet usage – you might just be able to point the finger at your Netflix-loving neighbours!

Network congestion is generally most common in the evening when more people in your area are at home and online. It’s the same issue closer to home in large households when multiple people are using the one internet connection – more people online means everyone is more likely to experience slow speeds.

However, improvements to our internet infrastructure is helping reduce this issue. According to data published by NBN Co, the average fixed-line NBN subscriber is now experiencing just 12 minutes of bandwidth congestion per week, down from a whopping 4 hours and 50 minutes one year ago. They define network congestion as when 95% or more of available bandwidth is being used.

4. Wi-Fi issues

Is your router slowing you down? While the convenience of Wi-Fi has seen its popularity grow over the last 15 years, wired connections – when your computer is connected to your modem with a physical cable – remain faster. If you’re connecting to the internet using Wi-Fi, here are some reasons you may be experiencing speed issues:

Router Location: Router location is an important choice that makes a big difference. Things to consider are the distance from your devices, the router’s height from the ground, and its proximity to dense materials like concrete and metal that can block Wi-Fi signals. For best results we recommend putting your router in the location where internet is used most frequently, above ground level, and away from walls or obstructions.

Interference: Even though Wi-Fi is usually on a different frequency than most devices in your home, there’s still potential for those devices to cause interference, resulting in slower speeds. Some devices that may be causing interference are microwaves, Bluetooth devices and even Christmas lights. Find the culprit by switching devices off to see if it affects your internet performance.

Neighbours: Similarly, areas with a large amount of Wi-Fi networks, such as an apartment building, may suffer from poor signal strength because of conflicting frequencies. Wifi routers have a number of channels that can transmit at different frequencies – if you have a slow connection that’s caused by a neighbour’s router using the same channel, changing your router’s to another one can help. To do this, you’ll need to connect to the router’s admin tool from your computer – your router’s instruction manual will have instructions on how to do this.

5. Your plan

The speed of plan you choose from your internet service provider is the single most important factor affecting overall internet speed. Remember, when choosing an Origin NBN plan, you have the choice of plans capable of achieving speeds from 12Mbps through to 100Mbps. 

Origin’s unlimited broadband plans allow you to bundle your energy and broadband in one easy step – and by bundling, you save more off every bill. See how much you could save.

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