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Troubleshooting checklist

If you suspect that your broadband speed is lower than it should be, the first thing to check is the synchronised speed in your router settings. Depending on your router model, it could also be labelled 'Sync Speed', 'Line Rate', 'Connection Speed' etc... (check your router's documentation to find this). The important thing is that you get this figure by logging into your router and finding it in the router settings - do not use any online speed tests at this time. Your synchronised speed may not display quite the maximum figure that your broadband is capable of, but it should be reasonably close depending on the length of your line to the exchange. If it displays significantly lower, it might still be ok, but there are a few things you should check - please follow every step below in order.

Please follow the steps below if you are having problems with your broadband speed and/or connectivity. The causes of these problems are often in the home and are easily fixed. If after trying all of these tips you are still having problems, please do not hesitate to contact us.

1. Check your router is compatible

We provide routers to new customers that are fully compatible with the latest Unlimited Broadband. If you have an older router, or one you bought elsewhere, you should check that it is compatible.

For broadband speeds higher than 8Mb, your router must be ADSL2+ compatible. Check the label on the router, or the documentation it came with. A non-ADSL2+ router may still work, but it won't provide you with speeds higher than 8Mb.

Here is a list of some common routers and the speeds they're capable of.

Up to 8Mb
Up to 20Mb
Up to 8Mb
Up to 20Mb
Alcatel SpeedTouch Yes No Netgear DG834 Yes Yes
BT Voyager 2000 Yes No Netgear DG834GT Yes Yes
BT Voyager 2110 Yes Yes Netgear DG834N Yes Yes
Cisco 827 Yes No Netgear DGFV338 Yes Yes
Cisco 837 Yes No Netgear DGN2000 Yes Yes
Cisco 877 Yes Yes Netgear DM111P Yes Yes
Cisco 2821 Yes No Thomson ST536 Yes Yes
Cisco SOHO 97 Yes No Thomson ST330 Yes No
Fritzbox FON 7140 Yes Yes Thomson TG585 Yes Yes
Fujitsu FDX 310 Yes No Zoom X3 GS/5660A Yes Yes
2. Check nothing else is using your connection

With so many gadgets now able to access the internet via your router, it is common for another piece of equipment or software to be using up your bandwidth and slowing things down. Check that nothing else is plugged in to your router and that nothing is accessing it wirelessly. These items can include:

  • Other computers
  • Satellite TV boxes
  • Games consoles
  • Mobile phones
  • Tablet PC's
  • Media storage devices
  • Internet-enabled TV's

Also check if there are any background tasks or open programs running on your computers. Try closing down the ones you don't need, to free up any bandwidth they may be using. These can be open programs on your taskbar and others which might show a logo in the box on the right hand side of the taskbar. Some you should leave running, such as security software so only close those you know are safe to close.

3. Secure your wireless connection
If you have a wireless enabled router and it is not protected with a password key, any device within range will be able to connect and use your broadband, using up valuable bandwidth. This could even be something outside of your property, like a neighbour's computer or smartphone.

Setting password security is simple and will give you full control over what is allowed to connect through your router. See your router's manual for full instructions on how to do this.

4. Re-boot your router
Re-booting your router will temporarily disconnect and reconnect your broadband service. This will reset your IP address (don't worry if you don't know what that is) and once reconnected, will train your connection back up to the fastest possible speed.

To re-boot most popular routers, simply pull the power cable out of the back of the router and leave it disconnected for a few minutes. After that, plug it back in and leave it for a couple more minutes until all the lights have settled down. You should then be able to reconnect your computer to the internet in the usual way.

5. Plug your router into the master socket
Making sure your router is connected to the master telephone socket in your property will bypass any inferior internal wiring and should give you the cleanest signal back to the exchange. The master socket is usually the one closest to the point where the telephone line enters your property. If you're not sure which one this is, first try to see where your telephone line enters your property and follow the cable. The first socket you get to should be the master.

Plug your router into this socket, not forgetting to use an ADSL filter (see step 7 below).

Don't worry too much if you can't find the master socket. If you're unsure, use your best guess. Broadband will work on any socket in the home but this is the best way to guarantee the cleanest signal.

6. Internal wiring
If you can't connect to the master socket, carefully check the wiring to the socket you are using. Damaged, worn, poor-quality or overly-long wiring is commonly responsible for causing slow speeds or drop-outs. Replace any wiring that you suspect to be faulty or at the very least, try another socket, checking its wiring also.

7. Connect ADSL filters to every phone socket
You must have an ADSL filter (sometimes called a Microfilter) connected to each telephone socket you have equipment connected to. Broadband speed and reliability can be severely affected or even not work at all if you do not do this.

Your router should have been supplied with several ADSL filters. If you do not have enough for every socket on your phone line, you can buy more cheaply from Sure and many other electrical and computer stores.

Filters are essential to split your broadband signal from any other signal on your phone line (phone fax etc). You must use one on every socket where there is other equipment attached. This can include telephones, fax machines, alarm systems, satellite tv boxes etc. Spend the time to check throughout your entire property and ensure every socket has a filter attached.

8. Avoid using telephone extension cables
Cheap, poor quality or old telephone extension cables commonly cause poor broadband speeds and reliability issues.

Most modern routers have a wireless facility allowing you to connect your computer to it without the use of a cable. If you are currently using a telephone extension cable to bring your router closer to your computer, consider either connecting wirelessly or using a longer Ethernet cable (the cable between your router and computer) instead.

If you really have no option but to use a telephone extension cable between the phone socket and router, make sure it is a new, high-quality one with the shortest length (shorter than 10ft) possible.

Coiled or tangled cables can cause interference so try to avoid this by using shorter ones.

9. Has this helped?
After addressing all the points listed above, check the synchronised speed in your router settings again and see if it's improved. If it has, congratulations -- you should now be enjoying faster broadband!

If not, and your synchronised speed is still unacceptably slow, please contact us to report a fault for further investigation.

If your synchronised speed appears to be satisfactory but your connection still seems slow, please read on...

10. Test your speed online
While connected to your router wirelessly; visit to test the connection from your computer. Follow any tips given there before you run your test.

Run a speed test. Once complete, jot down the results. These are guideline figures only and not as reliable as your router's synchronised speed but they are useful for getting a general idea and for comparison, which you'll do next.

Repeat the test but this time make sure that you have no background tasks running that might be connecting to the internet. Close down any other programs on your computer except the browser window you will be testing from and ensure that any other devices in your property that connect to the internet via your router are turned off. Compare the results; if these are significantly faster than in the previous test, you can be fairly certain that one of the tasks you closed down, or equipment that you turned off was affecting your speed. If no different, read on...

Now connect your computer directly to your router using an Ethernet cable. A short one should have been included with the router. Turn off wireless networking on your computer so that you are only using the physical connection and run the test again. Compare the results; if these results are significantly faster than the previous ones, you can be fairly certain that you have an interference problem with your wireless connection. Read on for further tips...

It is advisable to run a speed test at different times during the day. The network is often at its busiest between 6pm and 9pm and this could slow down your internet experience. Try connecting at a less busy time and see if your speed has improved.

11. Reposition your router
You should by now have a good idea of what might be affecting your internet speed and if you've got this far, you probably suspect wireless strength or interference. Don't panic -- we're getting there!

Somewhere in your task bar you should find an icon displaying the strength of your wireless connection. If it's showing anything less than 100%, you'll need to get you router closer to your computer, or visa-versa. Try different positions around the house, the closer the better, and watch that icon until you see a better signal.

Be aware that granite and thick walls, floors and ceilings are the enemy of WiFi! Try to position your equipment away from any walls, off the floor and make sure none of these are physically blocking the signal between your computer and router.

Once you've found a good strong signal, you should notice your internet speed increase dramatically. Congratulations, problem solved! If not, read on...

12. Wireless interference
The world is a noisy place, even if you can't hear it yourself, your wireless connection can. There are many devices inside and around the home all competing for clear frequencies to operate on. If there is a conflict with your wireless connection, you could experience speed issues or lose your connection completely.

Amongst many others, the most common devices to cause interference are:

  • Cordless telephones
  • Microwave ovens
  • Bluetooth devices
  • Baby monitors
  • Security cameras

Try to keep devices like these well away from your router and computer. Try switching them off entirely and see if your speed improves. If you find an item that is causing the problem, you may have to move it permanently, keep it turned off when using the internet, or possibly replace it with something that won't interfere.

13. Change the router's wireless channel
Wireless routers operate on a narrow range of 13 'channels'. If there are too many signals competing on the same channel, you might experience poor reception, drop outs and speed reduction. This competition often comes from other networks in neighbouring properties but can also be from other devices inside and out of the home (see previous chapter).

Some routers will choose the least-busy channel automatically but others might be set to a default. If you suspect this kind of interference, try changing the wireless channel in your router settings -- read your documentation to find out how to do this. Channels 1, 6 and 11 are generally considered to give the best performance but work through them until you find one that works for you.

Those with some technical knowledge might find free WiFi diagnostic software like 'Xirrus' useful in determining clear channels and signal strength.

Has this helped?
Hopefully by working through every point on this list, you've discovered and fixed the problem that's been affecting your broadband speed. In which case, congratulations, you can now go off and enjoy your high-speed internet connection.

If not, and your synchronised speed is still unacceptably low, please contact us to report a fault for further investigation. To report a fault from a Sure mobile dial 151, otherwise dial 0808 1015 247.

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