I currently pay for a service that says I should get up to 10Mbps but I only get 2Mbps, why is that?

One of the problems with purchasing broadband, especially ADSL broadband delivered over copper, is that your supplier cannot guarantee that you will get a particular speed. There are a number of different factors that affect the speed of your broadband connection. For example, the speed will be reduced by your distance from the telephone exchange, the quality of the line, the number of joints in the wire, and the wiring inside your house. Also, the connection will be made at the Maximum Stable Rate (MSR), which is the highest speed achievable without the line being disconnected or dropped occasionally.

The broadband router can also make a difference, as can your laptop, computer or some of the software you use.

The distance from the telephone exchange is the length of the wiring involved, not the direct distance. A user could be within a stone’s throw of the exchange but too far away for ADSL ( for example, if the exchange is on the other side of a river or railway line). The quality of the line includes what it’s made from – aluminium for example is notoriously slower than copper wiring for ADSL.

In addition to the above factors, your connection may be limited by something called ‘contention’. Broadband and telephone services are supplied on the same basis as other utilities such as water, mains electricity, and roads; all of which assume that not everybody will want to use them at once. If everybody in your town decided to run a bath at the same time, your water supply would soon reduce to a trickle. The same thing will happen if everybody wants to use the internet at the same time.

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