There seem to be a fair few complaints going around at the moment
whereby users are complaining about poor speeds across all ISPs.
Slow speeds can be attributable to several different factors, but
in view of the fact that I haven't seen so many users complain about
such poor speeds since the advent of the 1Mb trials, I think its fair
to assume that am awful lot of these complaints may be down to exchange
congestion - especially after the recent round of BTw bulk upgrades
which has left many users with free speed upgrades and eager to use
However, we should never assume and there are 4 main areas where
speed problems can arise:-
I list below some things that you should do to try and
pin-point where the problem may be occurring:
Your own PC/network.
Your ISP's network.
- The remote network.
~ Do a proper speed test.
- (Helps eliminate remote network
Do not rely on the likes of p2p transfers or http downloads to
monitor your speeds. These are dependant upon too many outside sources
to provide an accurate monitor of your connection.
In particular remember that p2p transfers are entirely reliant upon
the speed at which the user(s) or server at the other end can send
the files to you.
Do not use a foreign speed tester, speed tests that have to traverse
the atlantic will always give a slower speed due to the distance
Instead use a UK based speed test on a good server such as the
one at adsl-guide or
If you have DUMeter or NetMeter its also worthwhile checking download
speeds on some test files from the BTOpenworld
~ Check your IP Profile (BTw
restriction of your line).
If you are on IPStream DSLMax (up to 8Mb), check your bRAS
profile, which limits your maximum throughput speed.
If you have had low sync speeds over the past few days, then your
line rate will be adjusted accordingly. It can take 3-4 days of
stability before your profile is adjusted back upwards.
You can check your IP profile by carrying out a BTw
This will give you an indication of the maximum throughput speed
after overheads that your line is likely to achieve.
There's a table which shows relation of sync speed and IP profile
bands at the bottom of the page on How dslmax
~ Check for Exchange Congestion.
- (Helps eliminate BTs Network
Enter your phone number into of the checkers
below to see if there are any known problems at your local exchange.
(Look at VP capacity).
UserTools Exchange Checker
Be aware that the exchange checkers rely on information being provided
from BTw so therefore they can sometimes be a few weeks behind. -
Therefore its also best to carry out a BTw
In my own personal experience the exchange checker doesn't go red
until speeds below 400kbps are attained on a 2Mb connection.
~ Do a BTw Speedtest.
- (Eliminates ISP Network and remote network issues)
If you are on IPStream then you can carry out a BTw
speed test which completely bypasses your ISP's network and will help
identify the area of where the slow speeds are occurring.
Instructions on how to do a BTw Speedtest.
Slow speeds on the BTw speedtester point to either a contention issue
at the exchange or a problem on your own equipment/network.
~ Ensure nothing else is using your bandwidth.
- (Helps eliminate
PC/Local Network issues).
You cannot do a proper speed test if there is an application open
on your PC that is using your bandwidth.
Make sure that you don't have any applications open that may be using
Make sure that no other PC's on your network are using your connection
- if possible turn off other PC's whilst performing a speed test.
- Make sure no-one else is using your connection.
If you have a wireless router make sure that you have encryption/wireless
security set up properly - Its not unknown for neighbours to be
"borrowing your bandwidth".
- Make sure your connection is "clean".
A very common cause of poor speeds is virii, spyware and malware on an infected PC.
Scan the PC for virii using a decent Anti-virus program, also do an
online scan such as Housecall.
Scan for spy and malware using both Spybots S+D and Ad-aware.
All these programs can be obtained for free from the links on my page
- Monitor your traffic.
Consider downloading and installing NetMeter
- this free software will monitor traffic on your PC and you should
easily be able to spot if another application is using any bandwidth.
If you feel confident enough you can always try ethereal or
wireshark to capture and analyse any stray packets to help identify
~ Check for packet loss
If you are on a marginal long length line, it's possible to momentarily loose signal which results in
packets being dropped. The symptoms of this are that you appear to be getting slow speeds.
Most routers will record the amount of errored data packets, so its worthwhile
checking in your modem/router to see if it has recorded any uncorrected CRC errors/Errored seconds.
A high count of CRC errors (1,000's) is indicative that you have a problem on your line.
Theses errors indicate that data has been lost and has to be re-requested causing overall slow throughput.
CRC/HEC etc errors can also be a result of interference on the line.
A popular culprit around christmas is flashing xmas tree lights.