Broadband speeds guide: Finding the fastest connection

Broadband speeds guide: Finding the fastest connection

Date: 26/01/24

Author: Shia Mitchell

In our digitally connected world, broadband speed is a must-have for a good online experience. Whether you're streaming a remastered movie in high-definition, playing online with friends, or working from home, your broadband connection can make or break your day.

This article will guide you through the world of broadband speeds, by looking at how they are measured, what it means to have ‘fast’ broadband, testing and choosing speeds, and tips to compare providers.

Article contents:


Understanding how broadband speed is measured

Broadband speed is the rate that data moves between your device and the internet, and is measured in Mbps (megabits per second) and Gbps (gigabits per second). You can read more about Mbps and Gbps here, but for now, just know that 1,000 Mbps is equal to 1 Gbps.

You’ll often see upload and download speeds mentioned when comparing broadband speeds. These measurements refer to the rates at which data is transferred to and from your device and the internet. Uploading includes tasks like sharing files, taking part in video calls, and posting pictures on social media. Whereas, downloading might involve tasks like watching videos, browsing the web, and downloading files.

Various factors can affect your broadband speed, such as the technology used, how busy a network is, and of course, your broadband package itself.


What is a fast broadband speed?

What we consider to be “fast” broadband can vary from person to person because of individual preferences and internet usage. Generally speaking, broadband speeds between 50 Mbps and 100 Mbps will provide a smooth performance and minimal disruption when carrying out demanding online activities, such as 4K video streaming.

Many of us now benefit from fast fibre-optic broadband connections, which offer low latency and high bandwidth, making our online activities instant and smooth. They also benefit from symmetrical download and upload speeds, and a more secure connection with no peak-time slowdowns.

It’s worth mentioning here that broadband is not the same as WiFi. Broadband is the connection between your internet provider and your home, and comes in many forms. WiFi on the other hand, is the technology used to connect multiple devices to a router and allows you to access the internet connection available.

Traditionally, most properties would use ADSL (asymmetric digital subscriber line), which uses copper wiring to connect networks.  Nowadays, properties are increasingly using fibre optic broadband connections, which use glass or plastic cables for quicker data transfer. An apartment building may have fibre optic capabilities, and each household within that building will have their own WiFi in order to access the internet with that capability. So, if your WiFi speed is slow, it could have more to do with the signal of your router than the actual broadband connection. What’s more, WiFi is more susceptible to interference, which can also be a cause of connectivity issues.


What broadband speed do I need?

Deciding which level of speed is suitable for you will depend primarily on your online activities and the number of devices in your household. Here are a few key factors to consider when determining your speed requirements:

Internet usage and purpose

How much do you do online? If most of your activity consists of casually browsing websites, using social media, and watching the occasional YouTube video, a low-speed plan could work for you. However, if you enjoy streaming high-definition movies, playing lots of online video games, or work remotely most of the time, a higher-speed plan might better support your lifestyle.

Household size

How many people live in your home? If you live alone, it’s unlikely you’ll be putting much strain on your broadband with light-medium online activities. But if you live with several other people, all with their own habits and needs, this will definitely come into play when choosing a speed that can cope with each of your demands.

Multiple devices

Can you think of all the devices in your home that require an internet connection? Every one of these will be simultaneously connected and can impact overall speed. Each device uses up bandwidth, so think about mobiles, tablets, laptops, and don’t forget about smart devices—smart TVs, watches, and even everyday appliances like washing machines and baby monitors.


Testing my current broadband

Before upgrading or switching broadband providers, it’s a good idea to test your current broadband speed. This will help you identify any issues, try ways to improve your speed, and decide whether you could benefit from a faster broadband plan.

To get accurate results from your test, try the following:

  • Close background applications across all devices, ensuring any downloads or uploads are paused.

  • Connect the device you are testing on to your WiFi router using an Ethernet cable, if one is available. This will help reduce any WiFi signal issues you might have.

For those based in Greater London, check out this detailed guide on getting the best broadband speed in London.


Comparing broadband providers

Now that you have a better understanding of what broadband is, your current speed, and the demands of your household, you can explore different options available to you. With so many providers out there, have this checklist on hand to help you narrow down the search:

  • Speed levels: Providers typically offer multiple speed options at different price points, generally being more expensive the quicker it is. Are the options enough to support your usage and devices? Community Fibre offers speeds up to 3 Gbps, with same upload and download speeds.

  • Network reliability: There are few things more frustrating than a network outage putting an end to your evening plans at the end of a long day. While you might assume the UK’s biggest networks have the most stable infrastructure, this isn’t necessarily the case. When shopping for a broadband package, it’s a good idea to look for a provider with a proven track record of reliability.

  • Location: Check the provider's services are available in your area. Cities are generally well serviced, but some rural areas may have limited options. Community Fibre is London’s best quality broadband provider serving up London's fastest speeds..

  • Contract length and terms: Carefully review the terms of any contract, including contract duration, fees if you leave early, and any data caps that could leave you cut off. It’s not a fun read, but the small print will protect you from unexpected costs. What’s more, it’s a fairly common practice for provider’s to increase their prices after the initial promotional period of a contract ends.

  • Customer reviews: If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Read through real customer feedback to see if the provider is reliable, and how they respond to any issues. Review websites and social media can help here.

  • Bundles: Some providers offer bundled packages that include TV and calls too, which could help you save money in other areas and cut down on the number of providers you use.

  • Offers and deals: Many providers offer introductory offers, or run regular discounts and promotions such as reduced costs for the first few months of your plan.

Compare Community Fibre to leading competitors to see if you can benefit from faster and more reliable broadband in London boroughs.


Check your broadband speed now

Test your broadband speed to see if your broadband is living up to the demands of your household.

If you’re not happy with the results, we’re here to help. As London’s top-rated provider, with the fastest broadband speeds at the best prices, you’re sure to find a package to suit your needs.