What are my rights if my internet is slow? We reveal the answer to the UK’s broadband questions 

As more households rely on home broadband than ever before, there has been a surge in searches for problems related to the internet.

Online searches for ‘slow internet’ and ‘slow broadband’ have seen an increase of 60 per cent, highlighting the number of users potentially suffering with sluggish speeds.

The problem is likely to be intensified by the fact Openreach, the firm that connects nearly all homes and businesses in Britain to the national broadband network, has announced it is suspending home visits due to the coronavirus, meaning it is will be unable to fix many ongoing issues. 

To help those stuck at home with slow internet, This is Money, with help from Broadband Choices, has answered the most commonly asked questions about under-performing broadband – revealing what you can do to improve your internet and what your rights are when it comes to your online speeds. 

Slow: Many households are finding that their internet is slower now they're working from home

Slow: Many households are finding that their internet is slower now they're working from home

Slow: Many households are finding that their internet is slower now they’re working from home

Why is my internet slower than usual?

Due to the current influx of people working from home, you may experience slower internet speeds as the network struggles with the significant increase in demand. 

This might happen around peak times, such as 8-9am in the morning when most people log on.

If you’re receiving consistently slow internet, not just at peak times, it might be a sign that your current package simply isn’t suitable for your needs, especially if you’re streaming music or TV shows or have more people home than usual.

In this case, it might be worth reviewing your options and comparing deals, which are extremely competitive right now as providers are offering deals to entice new customers.

What are my rights if internet connection is always slow?

If your download speed is far lower than what you’ve been promised, you have a right to complain, and even cancel without penalty if Ofcom agrees that it’s particularly bad.

If you’re unhappy with your service, your first port of call should be to contact your provider to see if they can resolve the issue.

However, the coronavirus pandemic has put an unprecedented strain on the UK’s internet infrastructure, meaning it can be reasonably expected that internet speeds may suffer, despite provider’s best efforts, and resolving complaints may take significantly longer. 

You can check your broadband speed by using testers online to ensure they're not too slow

You can check your broadband speed by using testers online to ensure they're not too slow

You can check your broadband speed by using testers online to ensure they’re not too slow

Can I still switch my internet provider?

The vast majority of switches and upgrades will be totally unaffected by the recent Openreach announcement, with most suppliers providing their regular service.

Customers of brands currently using the Openreach infrastructure, which includes suppliers such as BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Plusnet, should be able to switch to other Openreach-based providers without interruption for both regular broadband and fibre services.

Those looking to join or move away from Virgin Media for their internet may encounter a slight delay with the switching process if an engineer is required. 

However, any delays should be minor and not prevent the switch from going through.

Mark Pocock of Broadband Choices said: ‘While the Openreach announcement that it is suspending home visits sounds significant, in reality it should have very little effect on the vast majority of customers who are looking to switch provider or upgrade their existing deals.

‘We are seeing little to no impact on switches between Openreach providers and only very minor delays for those moving from Openreach-based providers, such as BT, Sky or TalkTalk to Virgin Media.

‘Our message to those whom are relying on a good quality internet connection to work, learn and keep in touch with loved ones is that they can feel confident in switching supplier and don’t need to worry about being stuck with a poor value deal or a supplier they are not happy with.’ 

Consider a back-up video conference solution in case your choice struggles with demand

Consider a back-up video conference solution in case your choice struggles with demand

Consider a back-up video conference solution in case your choice struggles with demand 

How can I improve the connection on my video calls?

Video calls can be particularly impacted by an increase in demand as they rely on several different internet connections and servers to make them happen.

Simple ways to improve the quality of your calls include turning off the video option unless it’s absolutely necessary to it have on, scheduling your calls for later in the day, avoiding peak hours such as 9 to 10am and closing any other tabs you may be running on your device which could be eating up bandwidth.

You could also consider a back-up video conference solution in case your preferred choice struggles with demand.

How can I check my internet speed?

You can check your speed quickly using a broadband speed checker to test your connection. Click here to test yours. 

Why has my broadband become more expensive recently?

If you’ve found that your broadband package has become significantly more expensive recently, it could be because your introductory deal has ended, and you have been moved onto the supplier’s standard rate.

In fact, if you have been with your current supplier for more than the minimum term, it’s highly likely you’re not getting a good deal from your provider and are paying more than a new customer would.

The only way to ensure you’re not getting ripped off on your broadband package is to regularly compare deals and if necessary, vote with your wallet.   

If your download speed is lower than what you've been promised, you have a right to complain

If your download speed is lower than what you've been promised, you have a right to complain

If your download speed is lower than what you’ve been promised, you have a right to complain

Top tips to improve your internet connection

1. Try to schedule video conference calls at different times to avoid the ‘cyber rush hour’. Most people will set calls on the hour or first thing in the morning, so moving your video calls to avoid them should provide a more stable connection.

2. Turn off or disable the WiFi on devices that may be connected to your network that you aren’t using, such as phones, smart speakers or unused tablets, as these can passively eat up your bandwidth.

3. If you have consistently poor connection in parts of your home, consider a WiFi extender which can help boost your signal throughout your home.

4. Make sure your router is using the most up-to-date firmware, your internet provider should be able to help with this if it doesn’t already happen automatically.

5. Consider purchasing a third-party internet router. These can often provide significantly better WiFi connections than the ones provided by suppliers, but requires a little technical know-how to set up

6. Make sure you’re on a package that’s right for your needs. As we become more connected, often our internet needs increase, so be sure to regularly compare and switch every year to make sure you’re getting the right package for the right price.

For more tips and tricks to help your broadband speeds – and to find out what definitely won’t work, click here.  

 

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