Ultimately, there isn’t one thing that affects your internet speeds but a combination of many factors.
What is the average speed of home internet in the UK?
Knowing why internet speeds vary is not very useful unless you know how yours stacks up against the competition. As will become apparent while reading this article, internet speeds do vary widely across the UK, but what is the national average?
According to OFCOM's (the UK regulator of the communications sector) bi-annual survey, as of May 2020, the average download speed is 71.8Mbps while the average upload speed is 14.2Mbps.
If you’d like to understand more, check out our article on internet speeds.
The type of broadband connection
A large factor determining internet speeds is the type of broadband connection you have. There are a few different types of internet supply but most fall into three categories, Fibre Optic, which is the quickest, Cable, and Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) being slower but more widely available. If you are getting overwhelmed with the terminology, you might want to read our article breaking down common internet jargon.
Even within connection types there can be significant variance too. If you have a fibre optic connection, it can be fibre optic cables door to door (FTTP) which is the fastest available connection in the UK but not widely available. Most fibre optic connections are fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) which are still quick but significantly slower than a FTTP connection - this is when your internet goes to the local roadside cabinet through fibre optic cables but then through a copper phone cable to your house.
To best understand what connection you have and what would be available, it's best to contact your supplier.
Your internet supplier
Naturally the internet provider and package you select also affects the internet speeds you receive. The cheapest packages on the market will start at 10Mb, whereas the fastest (and most expensive) packages can be as quick as 1,000 Mb. You’ll need to make this decision, based on your needs and budget.
Where you live
The distance you live away from your nearest telephone exchange box will further affect your internet speeds. Cable and DSL internet route through these boxes and can cause latency the further away you are, resulting in a weaker and slower signal.
Additionally, the network congestion in your local area can have an impact. Peak times are between 20:00-22:00 when most people are at home streaming movies and gaming - this can slow down your speeds, and is typically worse in densely populated areas.
Whilst this last point is often down to luck, it helps to avoid busy times. Subscribing to a higher speed internet package in the first place could however lessen the impact.
What hardware you are using
The standard router provided by your broadband supplier should be sufficient for the internet package they offered. However in some instances, it pays to purchase a 3rd party booster to increase speeds, particularly when a number of devices are using the internet at the same.
Otherwise the device you are accessing the internet from can also have an impact. For instance a computer with a wired connection will be faster than one using Wi-Fi, especially if the router is on the side of your home. Similarly, newer devices will have updated technology built in to generally get you a faster connection.
Switch your broadband supplier
We recommend comparing broadband deals on a regular basis, to ensure you are not overpaying on your current deal. You can easily do this for free on our site.