Slow and intermittent internet speeds can be extremely frustrating. Especially if you’ve signed up for a high-speed broadband plan, yet continue to suffer from not so high speeds. While there are a number of potential causes for sluggish broadband, the good news is that it’s possible to pin down the problem. And it doesn’t have to be a difficult task!
From smartphones to smart TVs, smart speakers and security systems – our home networks and ecosystem of devices are growing. And it’s important that all these convenient devices stay convenient. No one wants a headache of laggy devices and wi-fi that won’t connect.
If you’re experiencing broadband bottlenecks, it could be related to a number of issues. It could be a problem with a single device, or you may need to upgrade your plan. Below we take a look at how to solve internet speed issues, the importance of having a capable router, and what to keep in mind when setting up your network.
Taking the test: time to check your internet speed
As an initial step, it’s important to check your download and upload speeds. This can be done by running a broadband speed test. This will help to shed some light on where things stand prior to undertaking any network troubleshooting or getting in touch with your broadband provider.
There is a range of broadband speed test services available online (such as Speedtest). These allow you to check the performance of your internet connection across different devices. It’s simply a matter of following the steps outlined by your chosen service.
To ensure accurate results, it is worthwhile:
- Restarting both your router and the device you will be testing your internet speeds on
- Closing any applications or programs using the internet, and disconnecting any devices that you are not conducting the test on
- If possible, running the test on a device using a wired connection (connected directly to your router via ethernet cable). This should give the best indication of your broadband speeds
- Running the test on your wireless devices in different areas of your household and then comparing the variance in speeds
- Running the test at different times of the day (morning, midday and evening) to get a gauge on your average speeds
Once you’ve run the speed tests, you can then compare how the results match up with your plan’s advertised speeds. If you’re consistently recording significantly slower speeds, it is worthwhile digging a little deeper and considering some of the steps outlined below.
Narrowing down potential problems
If your internet speed is suffering, it’s worthwhile checking out your broadband provider’s website. There you can see if they are experiencing any technical issues, or if there are wider issues in your area. If so, you’ll need to wait until they are resolved before running the tests again.
Meanwhile, it may be that you’re having problems with a specific website, in which case it can help to use an online service such as Down for Everyone or Just Me in determining whether other users are experiencing similar issues.
Beyond this, when it comes to assessing your speed test and home network’s performance:
- If your router is older than five years, and you’re consistently experiencing speed issues across all of your devices at all times of the day, it’s likely time for an upgrade
- Conducting speed tests across a range of devices will help to establish if it’s a device-specific problem. Your old laptop could be struggling to maintain the pace, or you may need to update your PC’s software
- If your wired devices are flying, but your wireless devices struggling, you may need to look into your wi-fi setup. Connectivity issues in particular areas of your household could mean you have wi-fi dead zones (areas that your router is struggling to reach)
- If your speeds are okay when conducting the test, but slow down when you connect all of your devices, it could be that your router is having difficulty keeping up, or that your plan isn’t fast enough to cater for your collective broadband requirements
- Sluggish speeds regularly experienced at particular times of day could mean that your broadband provider is experiencing congestion
Read on below for advice on how to navigate some of these issues and configure your network setup to stave off sluggish broadband.
Make sure your router can handle the pace
The router (which connects to the ONT box in residences with UFB) is the hub of your home network. It manages local network traffic and facilitates the flow of data via wired and wireless connections. This should be the logical starting point when troubleshooting internet speed issues.
The simple fact is that there is no point in having a high-speed broadband plan if your router is not up to the task. And if you’re using an older router, it may not be able to keep pace with your newer devices. Especially if you have a comprehensive home network.
For instance, while it’s still possible for an older router to establish a wireless connection with your new-release smartphone, it will be doing so using older wi-fi technologies. That could affect the speed of your shiny new device.
Meanwhile, as the number of devices accessing your network grows, so do the demands. An older model router may not be able to efficiently manage the various demands of different devices. This can also lead to broadband bottlenecks.
For this reason, you need to ensure that your router can handle the pace. If you are experiencing speed issues it could be worthwhile investing in an up-to-date model.
Configure your home network for speed
While a capable router will be the cornerstone of your home network, it’s also important to weigh up your wider network set-up to keep connectivity issues to a minimum.
As mentioned before, an older model router could impact speeds across the entirety of your network. However, if you don’t take into account other network components this could potentially lead to more specific issues.
It’s worthwhile considering the following:
- Router positioning – place your router in a central location in your household, providing access for a wide range of devices
- Wired connections – connect data-hungry devices, such as smart TVs and gaming consoles, via an ethernet cable to your router’s LAN ports. This will enable a faster connection and help free up the wireless portion of your network
- Wi-fi connections – efficiently utilise your router’s 2.5GHz and 5GHz bands. For instance, if ethernet connections are not practical, look to connect data-hungry devices on the faster 5GHz band, while using the 2.5GHz band (which has a greater range) for your mobile devices
- Wi-fi dead zones – if you’re experiencing issues in certain areas of your household, it could be worthwhile looking at using a mesh router or wi-fi extender
- Connecting devices – devices using older wi-fi technologies may be subject to slower internet speeds. As with an older router, the speed you achieve will be limited by the capacity of the lower-spec device
- Software updates – keeping your device software up-to-date can help avoid any potential connectivity issues
- Anti-virus software – computer viruses may slow your internet speed. It’s important to keep your anti-virus software up to date and running at all times
Still suffering slow speeds?
If you’re still in doubt, it’s worthwhile getting in touch with your broadband provider. This way, you can work through any potential connectivity issues and get your home network running smoothly.
When choosing a provider, consider the type of technical support provided, from online to over-the-phone and in-house support. For instance, depending on the nature of the issue, having a technician make an in-house visit may involve additional charges.
Meanwhile, if it is time to upgrade your plan, it’s certainly worthwhile shopping around and weighing up the offerings of different providers, with a range of high-speed plans on offer for households seeking faster broadband.
Faster broadband? Canstar can help!
To help you get a clearer picture of broadband providers in NZ, Canstar Blue rates all the big providers annually. We survey thousands of broadband customers and ask them to score their providers across categories including Value for Money, Network Performance and Customer Service.
Canstar Blue’s latest review of NZ internet providers compares NOW, 2degrees, Bigpipe, Contact, MyRepublic, Nova Energy, Orcon, Slingshot, Spark, Stuff Fibre, Trustpower and Vodafone, and awards the best our 5 Star rating:
^ By clicking on a brand or 'details' button, you will leave Canstar Blue and be taken to either a product provider website or a Canstar Blue NZ brand page. You agree that Canstar Blue NZ’s terms and conditions apply (without limitation) to your use of this service,to any referral to a product provider from our website, and any transaction that follows. Canstar Blue may receive a fee for referring you to a product provider. See How we are funded for further details.
Canstar Blue NZ Research finalised in March 2020, published in April 2020.
See Our Ratings Methodology
The table above is an abridged version of our full research, so to find out more about NZ’s best broadband providers, just click on the big button at the bottom of this story.
About the author of this page
This report was written by Canstar author Martin Kovacs. Martin is a freelance writer with experience covering the business, consumer technology and utilities sectors. Martin has written about a wide range of topics across both print and digital publications, including the manner in which industry continues to adapt and evolve amid the rollout of new technologies