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What are the benefits of increasing your internet line speed (further)?

Currently the VDSL line into my house is priced for a speed of 50mbps. I never get that, it's more like 32, but generally i'd been told that on wi-fi that would be fairly typical. I was offered to upgrade it to 100 mbps for equiv of about £3 per month so I went for that. For reasons not yet clear, the line speed is now between 83 and 120 according to the technician who visited, but I saw no increase in the speed test on my laptop using wifi. The technician blamed my modem. So now I have the potentially difficult task of finding out what that problem might be.

However, when I consulted a neighbour who knows a bit about this, he questioned whether I need the upgrade. I had assumed that the higher speed would reduce buffering when watching TV over the web, but he said that if there are no other machines in the house taking up bandwidth, and I am already getting 30mbps or more, the buffering is for other reasons. He said increased line speeds help in households where you might have e.g two teens both playing games on the web, etc.

Anybody got any comments on my neighbour's view? And what might be wrong with my modem that it does not respond to a higher incoming line speed? (I know I have to test it connected to an Ethernet cable)
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Comments

  • I negotiated an upgrade of speed with Virgin the other day when they contacted me saying my costs were about to rise by £13.50 a month. 
    I ended up agreeing to an extra £4 a month with a speed upgrade. Incidentally for that I get the cable TV and Tivo box, a landline and broadband with wifi.
    What I learned is that your speed and connectivity can be diluted and weakened by the number of devices in your home. Alexas, tablets, desktops, phones using wifi, smart TV, smart lightbulb stuff and so on.
    Since the increase, using a device in a previous household blind spot has stopped being such a problem.
  • edited January 15
    When you say modem, is that what you mean?  Do you have a separate modem and router or just one "magic box" that does both tasks.  It sounds to me as if your router is not capable of distributing your wifi signal around your property rather than any issues with the incoming bandwidth.
    Can you check your broadband speed with a device plugged into the router with a cat6 RJ45 ethernet cable rather than one using wifi?

    Edited to add:  I think your neighbour is correct.  60Mbps should be fine for streaming 4k UHD/HDR.  I don't get anywhere near that and don't buffer at all.
  • Number of devices is a factor, but only if they are bandwidth sapping....such as games consoles.

    Your ISP may also throttle your internet speed due to use in your local area by other customers at certain busy times during the day.

    Lastly, location of your device(s) to the router also has an impact.
  • Lastly, have you checked what Wi-Fi channel your router works on? If they are on overlapping channels then that wold also impact your connectivity.
  • Lastly, have you checked what Wi-Fi channel your router works on? If they are on overlapping channels then that wold also impact your connectivity.
    You know, he knows, I know, we all know!! 

    The point about throttling to support a large density of users in your neighbourhood is definitely an issue I suffer from. Tuesday - Thursday afternoons at the moment, presumably when there is the highest number of people working from home, there is a noticeable degradation is speed. 
  • edited January 15
    This should help with checking your Wi-Fi channel:

    hellotech.com/guide/for/how-to-change-wifi-channel-on-router


  • 170mpbs here, and we have 2 laptops, numerous streaming devices, 1 games console and 2 tablets on it, in the mornings and afternoons we'll have at least 3 of those going at any one time without the speed dropping and service not being massively effected. 

    Would like Fibre to the property, but will wait for the price to drop a tad more
  • To answer your question, I work in IT, have all the usual streaming services, download and upload a reasonable amount (but don't do any online gaming) and I got by perfectly well with 30mb. When I moved recently my new place had FTTP, for pretty much the same cost I was paying previously so I took that up. Apart from a lower ping (which doesn't matter to me because I don't do online gaming other than Zwift, where it isn't a factor) I haven't noticed any difference. Of course, I live on my own, so YMMV
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  • Oh, one more thing.  My router can transmit at both 2.4 and 5 GHz.  When I got it, It was set up to do whatever it fancied.  This confused my so-called smart TV and it often said it could not find a wifi connection because it couldn't choose between the two.  So I have now set it up with two separate wifi networks.  I use 5Ghz for the TV.  This is better at bandwidth (speed) but worse for range:   5GHz signals don't like walls.  2.4GHz is slower but doesn't care so much about solid obstructions.  
  • Thanks for replies. I'm using a "magic box" modem/router, Asus DSL- n66u. Maybe 4-5 years old but not cheap, dual band and according to the guys who sold me it, capable of handling 900mbps.

    I just did the ethernet cable test (although not sure if the cable is of the quality @cafcfan proposed) . Clear improvement, three tests, different connections but all producing 49-51 mbps. Whip it out, back on wifi, back down to 24-27mbps. All on incoming line speed "priced" for 100mbps. Upload speed is always around the same, between 4.5/4.75 mbps

    When I watch internet on TV or play music via Sonos or Spotify on the phone, this is all happening in the same room where the modem router is, and the laptop would be no more than 3 metres from the router and in clear sight of it. I also generally use Zoom and similar on the desktop computer in the study and that seems to work OK too.

    @Big_Bad_World yes I've been told a bit about the games ISPs play and unfortunately here I am dealing with a monopoly supplier. Imagine BT with its legacy of the old phone network, but now owned by Gazprom, and with no competitor in the area, that's what I'm dealing with. However, when their technician came round yesterday he had his own modem. Chunky box thing with a readout panel on the top of it. He showed me the 83mbps reading, and when straight away I did the Ookla speed test on my laptop over wifi I got 32...that is a big drop, and I could also get that sort of figure before the line speed was supposedly increased. That is the bit I can't get my head round. Can you? Anybody?
  • Currently the VDSL line into my house is priced for a speed of 50mbps. I never get that, it's more like 32, but generally i'd been told that on wi-fi that would be fairly typical. I was offered to upgrade it to 100 mbps for equiv of about £3 per month so I went for that. For reasons not yet clear, the line speed is now between 83 and 120 according to the technician who visited, but I saw no increase in the speed test on my laptop using wifi. The technician blamed my modem. So now I have the potentially difficult task of finding out what that problem might be.

    However, when I consulted a neighbour who knows a bit about this, he questioned whether I need the upgrade. I had assumed that the higher speed would reduce buffering when watching TV over the web, but he said that if there are no other machines in the house taking up bandwidth, and I am already getting 30mbps or more, the buffering is for other reasons. He said increased line speeds help in households where you might have e.g two teens both playing games on the web, etc.

    Anybody got any comments on my neighbour's view? And what might be wrong with my modem that it does not respond to a higher incoming line speed? (I know I have to test it connected to an Ethernet cable)
    Something to bare in mind is that Wi-fi speeds are not as reliable or as fast as Ethernet (cat 5/6 cable), Wi-fi 6 devices are just hitting the market now which gives a possible speed of 1gig. But even if your router is Wi-fi 6 enabled your devices wont be, the Wi-fi chip in my iPhone 11 is faster than the one in my two/three year old Macbook. 

    I have worked for a couple of ISP's over the years in tech support supporting ADSL etc, personally I am with TalkTalk (used to work for them), the router that they supplied needed rebooting every month as they are basic.  They tend to run out of memory so I bought myself a better router and my problems went away, now I'm not expecting many people to spend nearly £300 on a router but that is exactly what I did. 

    Happy to offer advice.
  • As you say I would check the speed to your router by connecting laptop/computer to it using a cat cable then run speed test. You should get approx 100mb download that you are paying for, although as others have said it will depend on the usage  in your area at the time you run the test, as you will be sharing the data line with your neighbours.

    with regards to Wi-fi the signal will decrease in strength over distance from router, it will also depend on how old the router is and what standard of Wi-fi it is using. The newer standards are able to travel longer distance.

    wifi signal can also be affected by number of devices in the house, location of router, construction materials like thick brick walls or metal.

    provided you are getting about 30-50mb that should be enough for streaming on one device/ possibly two
  • Thanks for the further comments. @cafcfan I have the same setup as you, separate wifi for 2.4 and 5ghz. But I never remember to use the 5ghz for TV. I should get into the habit, I guess, and see if it makes a difference.

    As for what I'm watching @Big_Bad_World, well apart from the obvious (Valley Pass I mean, and that works well) that's the thing....BBC iPlayer and sometimes All4 or ITV; these all require a VPN, which is my separate hell, especially with iPlayer. VPNs seem to further cut the speed down. So I assumed that if I upgrade the line speed, I would have a better speed than now via the VPN and so get rid of buffering, but my neighbour questions that. 
  • Thanks for replies. I'm using a "magic box" modem/router, Asus DSL- n66u. Maybe 4-5 years old but not cheap, dual band and according to the guys who sold me it, capable of handling 900mbps.

    I just did the ethernet cable test (although not sure if the cable is of the quality @cafcfan proposed) . Clear improvement, three tests, different connections but all producing 49-51 mbps. Whip it out, back on wifi, back down to 24-27mbps. All on incoming line speed "priced" for 100mbps. Upload speed is always around the same, between 4.5/4.75 mbps

    When I watch internet on TV or play music via Sonos or Spotify on the phone, this is all happening in the same room where the modem router is, and the laptop would be no more than 3 metres from the router and in clear sight of it. I also generally use Zoom and similar on the desktop computer in the study and that seems to work OK too.

    @Big_Bad_World yes I've been told a bit about the games ISPs play and unfortunately here I am dealing with a monopoly supplier. Imagine BT with its legacy of the old phone network, but now owned by Gazprom, and with no competitor in the area, that's what I'm dealing with. However, when their technician came round yesterday he had his own modem. Chunky box thing with a readout panel on the top of it. He showed me the 83mbps reading, and when straight away I did the Ookla speed test on my laptop over wifi I got 32...that is a big drop, and I could also get that sort of figure before the line speed was supposedly increased. That is the bit I can't get my head round. Can you? Anybody?
    Nothing untoward in those test results if one was wired and one not.

    I get 176mbps when wired but only 68mbps to my Nvidia Shield TV Pro box through Wi-Fi (which is more than enough even for the gaming aspects of it), and that's with 4 mobile phones, two home computers, two tablets, two Firesticks, three Smart TV's and a smart meter all connected.

    Also have three signal boosters strategically placed around the house.

    Like has been said, try and check your wired speed/router if at all possible.
  • As advice above, checking wired speed is a good test. It's to isolate your network and see if line / ISP related. Do tests at different times of the day too. 
  • Also reset your router after using your VPN as devices get confused looking for previous, old, connections.
  • edited January 15
    Thanks for replies. I'm using a "magic box" modem/router, Asus DSL- n66u. Maybe 4-5 years old but not cheap, dual band and according to the guys who sold me it, capable of handling 900mbps.

    I just did the ethernet cable test (although not sure if the cable is of the quality @cafcfan proposed) . Clear improvement, three tests, different connections but all producing 49-51 mbps. Whip it out, back on wifi, back down to 24-27mbps. All on incoming line speed "priced" for 100mbps. Upload speed is always around the same, between 4.5/4.75 mbps

    When I watch internet on TV or play music via Sonos or Spotify on the phone, this is all happening in the same room where the modem router is, and the laptop would be no more than 3 metres from the router and in clear sight of it. I also generally use Zoom and similar on the desktop computer in the study and that seems to work OK too.

    @Big_Bad_World yes I've been told a bit about the games ISPs play and unfortunately here I am dealing with a monopoly supplier. Imagine BT with its legacy of the old phone network, but now owned by Gazprom, and with no competitor in the area, that's what I'm dealing with. However, when their technician came round yesterday he had his own modem. Chunky box thing with a readout panel on the top of it. He showed me the 83mbps reading, and when straight away I did the Ookla speed test on my laptop over wifi I got 32...that is a big drop, and I could also get that sort of figure before the line speed was supposedly increased. That is the bit I can't get my head round. Can you? Anybody?
    Nothing untoward in those test results if one was wired and one not.

    I get 176mbps when wired but only 68mbps to my Nvidia Shield TV Pro box through Wi-Fi (which is more than enough even for the gaming aspects of it), and that's with 4 mobile phones, two home computers, two tablets, two Firesticks, three Smart TV's and a smart meter all connected.

    Also have three signal boosters strategically placed around the house.

    Like has been said, try and check your wired speed/router if at all possible.
    I think that's what I just wrote about above...switched off wifi, plugged in ethernet cable, to laptop, and got 51mbps. That's easily the best speed I have ever seen in the house, however still only half the nominal speed. Then when I go back to wifi straight back to 30 mbps. I don't like this company at all, nobody does, but the technician would say "I tested the line, I got 83mbps and showed the customer the evidence". I asked him what I should expect if the modem/router is working ok, and he said 80 with ethernet cable, 70 with wifi. Not the brightest, mind. 

    It's worth saying that at my office, a few miles away we had cabled internet. It was excellent. The speed we paid for was the speed we got, every time.

    Should also say I have nothing like the number of wired up gear you have. I have a signal booster in the study but that's mainly so we can sit on the terrace in summer and use the net.
  • edited January 15
    Thanks for replies. I'm using a "magic box" modem/router, Asus DSL- n66u. Maybe 4-5 years old but not cheap, dual band and according to the guys who sold me it, capable of handling 900mbps.

    I just did the ethernet cable test (although not sure if the cable is of the quality @cafcfan proposed) . Clear improvement, three tests, different connections but all producing 49-51 mbps. Whip it out, back on wifi, back down to 24-27mbps. All on incoming line speed "priced" for 100mbps. Upload speed is always around the same, between 4.5/4.75 mbps

    When I watch internet on TV or play music via Sonos or Spotify on the phone, this is all happening in the same room where the modem router is, and the laptop would be no more than 3 metres from the router and in clear sight of it. I also generally use Zoom and similar on the desktop computer in the study and that seems to work OK too.

    @Big_Bad_World yes I've been told a bit about the games ISPs play and unfortunately here I am dealing with a monopoly supplier. Imagine BT with its legacy of the old phone network, but now owned by Gazprom, and with no competitor in the area, that's what I'm dealing with. However, when their technician came round yesterday he had his own modem. Chunky box thing with a readout panel on the top of it. He showed me the 83mbps reading, and when straight away I did the Ookla speed test on my laptop over wifi I got 32...that is a big drop, and I could also get that sort of figure before the line speed was supposedly increased. That is the bit I can't get my head round. Can you? Anybody?
    Nothing untoward in those test results if one was wired and one not.

    I get 176mbps when wired but only 68mbps to my Nvidia Shield TV Pro box through Wi-Fi (which is more than enough even for the gaming aspects of it), and that's with 4 mobile phones, two home computers, two tablets, two Firesticks, three Smart TV's and a smart meter all connected.

    Also have three signal boosters strategically placed around the house.

    Like has been said, try and check your wired speed/router if at all possible.
    I think that's what I just wrote about above...switched off wifi, plugged in ethernet cable, to laptop, and got 51mbps. That's easily the best speed I have ever seen in the house, however still only half the nominal speed. Then when I go back to wifi straight back to 30 mbps. I don't like this company at all, nobody does, but the technician would say "I tested the line, I got 83mbps and showed the customer the evidence". I asked him what I should expect if the modem/router is working ok, and he said 80 with ethernet cable, 70 with wifi. Not the brightest, mind. 

    It's worth saying that at my office, a few miles away we had cabled internet. It was excellent. The speed we paid for was the speed we got, every time.

    Should also say I have nothing like the number of wired up gear you have. I have a signal booster in the study but that's mainly so we can sit on the terrace in summer and use the net.
    Apologies. Posted without having read your previous post.

    The 100mbps is a bit of a red herring as contracts normally state 'up to', which is their get-out-clause. Very few providers offer guaranteed speeds (through Wi-Fi). I believe only BT do over here and that speed is only a guaranteed 10mbps for every room in your house.
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  • BTW my ethernet cable is stamped "category 5E stranded". I guess that is OK for the tests we are talking about?
  • All this talk of superfast speeds 176mbps, a gig a second - pah!

    Up until about a year ago I was putting up with 2mbps and BT wanted £50k to run fibre to the house - as you can imagine I told them where to shove their FTP. I switched to 4G and get a wopping 20mbps download and 10mbps upload - plus a ping of around 21ms. That'll do for me and more than enough to stream Netflix, general internet use and Echos all over the house!

    Supposedly promised FTP at some point as part of the general rollout but I don't expect that in my lifetime!! The price of living in the back of beyond - bloody carrot crunchers!
  • @PragueAddick have you disconnected your phone from the home wi-fi and run a test on your mobile download speed? I only ask as if you have a device with an abundance of data (unlimited in some cases) then you could tether your chosen device to that network if the speeds are much better.

    Just an option to consider testing.
  • If you want to boost the speed of WiFi connections, my advice would be not to bother with power-line and other 'extenders' but go straight for a 'mesh' WiFi solution. It's ended all my connectivity issues upstairs in my nouse. 
  • BTW my ethernet cable is stamped "category 5E stranded". I guess that is OK for the tests we are talking about?
    That can easily do more. 
  • If you want to boost the speed of WiFi connections, my advice would be not to bother with power-line and other 'extenders' but go straight for a 'mesh' WiFi solution. It's ended all my connectivity issues upstairs in my nouse. 

    Power line works well for me but I mainly use it for ethernet for my PC/ps4.
  • Sorry @PragueAddick but I reckon its  simple case of being "done" by your monopolised broadband company. How do you know that the engineer hadn't "fixed" his gadget to show 80 mbps. All seems a bit dodgy to me.
  • @PragueAddick Can you access your router? 
  • @PragueAddick have you disconnected your phone from the home wi-fi and run a test on your mobile download speed? I only ask as if you have a device with an abundance of data (unlimited in some cases) then you could tether your chosen device to that network if the speeds are much better.

    Just an option to consider testing.
    I just tested my iPhone on LTE and got 47mbps, which is better than the laptop gets on wifi, but about the same as with the ethernet cable. Would think the cable would be slightly better option. 

    That web page you sent re changing wifi channel is very interesting though. I will try that. It suddenly occurred to me that maybe one of our neighbours might use a fair bit of bandwidth, as we recently found out, from the media, that he's one of the country's porn barons! But he'd been busted, so seems like it's all gone quiet, over there...
  • bobmunro said:
    All this talk of superfast speeds 176mbps, a gig a second - pah!

    Up until about a year ago I was putting up with 2mbps and BT wanted £50k to run fibre to the house - as you can imagine I told them where to shove their FTP. I switched to 4G and get a wopping 20mbps download and 10mbps upload - plus a ping of around 21ms. That'll do for me and more than enough to stream Netflix, general internet use and Echos all over the house!

    Supposedly promised FTP at some point as part of the general rollout but I don't expect that in my lifetime!! The price of living in the back of beyond - bloody carrot crunchers!
    Probably better off now seeing if you can get a decent 5G signal at the mansion Bob, faster than the fibre anyway I think?
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