Our lives have become increasingly reliant on the internet, and a stable broadband service is now essential in homes and offices across the UK. From voice calls and emails to smart devices and streaming media, the modern world is built around always-on connectivity. That’s a real problem if your internet service provider isn’t living up to the promises made in its sales literature and advertising campaigns.
There are various ways for consumers and companies to tackle internet issues, including the nuclear option of deciding to switch broadband provider. We’ve divided these into three categories – prevention, support, and resolution – and listed them below.
#1. Improve your broadband infrastructure.
Older wifi hubs lack range, which can be a problem for people in larger properties. They also struggle to support multiple devices – itself a handicap as our homes fill with virtual assistants and web-enabled devices. It is worth upgrading to the best router or hub your ISP can offer, and consider installing a phone socket centrally within your home or office. Also look into replacing micro filters – those small white dongles plugged into your phone sockets are surprisingly prone to failing.
#2. Use hardwired connections.
If your wifi hub is in an accessible place, try to hardwire computers and TVs to it using Ethernet cables. This is the first thing any ISP technical support staff will ask you to do, since wireless communications are far less reliable than physical connections. If your hub is out of reach, use a Powerline adaptor that distributes bandwidth from one plug socket to another using the building’s electricity cabling. Any device will connect to this loop if it has an Ethernet port.
#3. Have a contingency plan in place for outages.
The UK’s major mobile phone networks sell USB dongles and wifi hubs, respectively providing hardwired and wireless internet access across the 4G network used by mobile phones. They can be invaluable during a broadband outage, so keep one in a drawer. Data allowances are often time-limited, but you can usually top up without an internet connection.
#4. Research local connection speeds.
If you’re preparing to move house or relocate offices, investigate realistically achievable broadband speeds at potential future locations. Proximity to local exchanges is beneficial, though the public and private sector are rolling out superfast broadband in a fairly scattergun fashion. New housing estates in north Carlisle are cabled with 1000Mbps true fibre broadband, which is 100 times the speed some residents of Southwark in London, for example, are currently able to enjoy.
#5. Increase corporate bandwidth.
As companies expand, existing connections begin to struggle with additional web browsers and online activity. Staff might not notice deteriorating connection speeds, so upgrade your ISP account to provide additional bandwidth. This should prevent network outages, stuttering conference calls or sluggish file transfer times.
#6. Keep a detailed log of any issues.
When problems arise, are you getting default gateway errors or a total loss of connection? How often are issues occurring, and for how long? Try to use a site like broadbandspeedchecker.co.uk at set times every day to measure upload and download speeds. These records might help your ISP’s tech support team to identify likely causes and solutions. Also, keep detailed notes of any communication with your provider while they attempt to resolve your issues.
#7. Consider new additions to your environment.
Did your broadband issues start just after you installed a new baby monitor or cordless desk phone? Many devices distribute electronic signals across the same wireless frequencies as broadband routers, with microwave ovens and wireless devices among the common causes of wireless interference. Experimentation – even switching between 2G or 5G connections on a wireless router – occasionally leads to significant long-term improvements.
#8. Lodge a complaint.
If you’ve followed the preceding points but are still experiencing problems, you should have a fairly watertight case to put to your ISP. Remain calm at all times, but emphasise the disruption and (if relevant) cost of your unreliable connection. If their support is as flaky as their service, threaten to switch broadband provider or tell them you’ll report them…
#9. Escalate matters to an industry watchdog.
Every broadband provider in the UK is registered with one of two regulatory bodies – the Ombudsman Service and CISAS. They provide cost-effective and impartial dispute resolution services, with the power to order ISPs to resolve issues satisfactorily. Compensation might be offered as an alternative, giving you the funds necessary to…
#10. Switch broadband provider.
Deciding to switch broadband provider might seem fruitless if your issues involve a faulty Openreach phone socket or a corroded landline, but other options are available. Virgin Media’s superfast fibre broadband is cabled in from the street to a separate phone socket, while satellite broadband represents an expensive third way. And if your issues relate to an ISP rather than your infrastructure, websites like broadbanddeals.co.uk provide price comparisons between rival providers who will be very happy to receive your custom…