How to test your broadband speed

Are you getting the broadband speed you're paying for? The speed test is a simple way to find out. Not only that, it also gives you an idea of speeds your postcode can get through other providers, so it's great for comparisons.

Felicity Hannah: How does your broadband measure up? Are you paying for superfast speeds but actually getting just a trickle?

If your web speed seems slow, how can you measure it and what are your rights if you’re not happy? Let’s take a look.

How to test your broadband speed

This free-to-use tool lets you measure how fast your internet connect is at downloading information from the web and uploading it.

Make sure you’ve closed down anything else in the house that connects to the internet before you run it, to make the test as accurate as possible.

First up, enter your postcode, that’s so when can tell you how your speeds measure up to what other people in your area are getting. You’ll then be asked to select and rate your current provider and then you’re ready to start the test!

It will connect and do the rest for you, first testing the download speed, then the upload speed. The overall figure that you see is the download speed, as for most people, this is most important.

The site will also then show you what speeds you could be getting from different providers. Not every home can get the top speeds advertised by providers, so this is a good chance to see what you can realistically achieve.

We recommend running the test more than once at different times of the day, to get an average figure. After all, you’re unlikely to get top speeds at peak times of day.

Your broadband rights

If you’re consistently failing to receive the speeds you were promised by your provider then it’s time to get tough. Ask for help speeding up your connection and, if the company can’t do anything, it’s time to switch.

If you’re changing providers, the new company must tell you the speed it realistically expects you can get when you’re ready to purchase.

Most internet service providers have signed up to a code of practise that means they must work to resolve any technical problems. If you’re stuck in a contract and can’t move companies, then ask to move to a cheaper package that reflects the speeds you’re getting,

Last year, an Ofcom study found that the average download speed is 5.2Megabits per second, yet the average speed being advertised by providers is 11.5.

Don’t forget that when a company advertises a speed of ‘up to’ a certain amount, you’re not guaranteed to get that top service.

Using a tool like the broadband speed test lets you see what speeds you can realistically hope to get in your specific area, to stop you paying more than you need to for a service you can’t receive.

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