Talk of the internet ‘running slow’ or ‘going down’ is often heard, but what does this actually mean and why does it happen…?
We wanted to get to the bottom of these issues and provide a summary of phrases often used and their meanings, in simple terms…..
Problems you might encounter…..
1) Downtime – This is complete loss of an internet connection. You will not be able to load webpages, nor send /receive emails.
2) Jitter – When data packets received arrive at different times, or in the wrong order. It takes time to get it back in order so could cause delays/buffering. You may notice frozen images or out of time sound when streaming videos or with VoIP there may be a short break in sound.
3) High Latency – Latency is a measure of the speed of your connection. Low latency means information can be processed quickly, whilst high latency means there are delays. Emails may take time to send, webpages will be slow to load or you may see ‘connection timed out’ error messages.
What causes these problems…..
Inadequate Bandwidth – This is when the amount of data you are trying to process is more than the internet connection can handle. For example if you are trying to download multiple large files at the same time as streaming video, you would be using far more bandwidth than simply browsing an individual webpage. Similarly, if you have too many people/devices trying to use the internet at the same time this will decrease the amount of bandwidth available to process each device’s information.
Think about running in a race…. If you try to run carrying a heavy rucksack on your back, it is going to slow you down. Equally if you are one of hundreds of people attempting to run along a narrow track, you will get in one another’s way and this will slow you ALL down!
Contention Ratio – Unless you have a Direct Internet Connection (DIA) your broadband connection will share the internet infrastructure with others. This means that when lot’s of other people/businesses (externally) are using the internet at the same time as you, you may encounter problems. A contention ratio of 50:1 means that up to 50 broadband users are sharing the same bandwidth.
Think about winning the lottery….. If you happen to match say 5 numbers in the same week as 100 other people, the prize fund has to be shared between you all and you won’t receive as much as you would have if you were the only winner that week!
Peak Times – The internet is a global resource that increasingly we cannot live without. Every day more and more devices are trying to access the internet across the world, both at work and at home. Busy times in the UK tend to be 4pm through to 11pm. This is because for most of us, this is our downtime (pardon the pun) or our leisure time – which is becoming more and more reliant on the internet. We are all attempting to surf the net and stream videos at the same time. Not only this, those across the pond in the US are starting their working day.
Think about going to buy a sandwich on your lunch break….. If you were to go to your local sarnie shop at 10am you probably wouldn’t find a queue, but fast forward to lunchtime (the shortest 60 minutes of your day) and everyone is trying to do the same and often you’ll have to wait!
Location, location, location – Whilst those in big towns & cities often benefit from the latest infrastructure, it can be a different matter for those in more remote areas as it is more expensive to upgrade to areas further away. Even with the same infrastructure in place, data that has to travel further takes longer to reach it’s destination.
Think of a train journey….. The main train lines around the major cities are often high speed and/or trains travel frequently. But when you are trying to reach a tiny village in a remote area, you will be served with a small local train that runs much slower and less often, thus increasing your journey time.
What you can do….. When suffering downtime:
1) Check Wires
- Is everything is connected?
- Are there any loose wires?
- Is everything is in the right socket?
- If you have a spare ethernet cable, try replacing this
2) Check Devices
Are other devices connected to internet? If so it could be a device issue, so try restarting the device.
3) Check Telephone Line / Microfilter
If you can’t make calls on the line it may be a line fault or a problem with your microfilter – the small box that both the Ethernet/DSL cable and telephone wire plug into, so that you can plug both into the tel socket on the wall. Try taking out the microflter and plugging the telephone wire directly into the wall.
If you can now make calls, replace your microfilter and test again.
If you still cannot make calls, contact service provider to run a line test.
4) Check Router
- Turn the router OFF
- Disconnect all cables and leave for 20 mins before plugging back in and switching on the power.
If none of these actions help you to resolve your downtime issue, contact your service provider.
What you can do….. When suffering high jitter or latency issues:
1) Consider timing – Think about when you complete bandwidth hungry activities. Are you able to download those large files overnight (or at a time when you are not already maxing out your bandwidth)?
2) Monitor your usage – Log into your router’s network management tool (usually web-based but many now offer an App to do this) to establish which devices are being greedy!
3) Consider a router upgrade – There are many routers available to meet specific needs. Check out whether one with additional features to yours could help resolve any issues you have been experiencing. For example, we offer both a ‘High Speed’ or ‘Superior’ router that come with many more benefits than the standard, but these aren’t necessary for everyone.
4) Consider your broadband connection – Is your current service sufficient to cope with your requirements? Do you want to consider upgrading to fibre (to achieve greater speed) or direct internet access (DIA) to avoid contended bandwidth (sharing).
As time goes on our reliance on our internet connection is ever increasing, especially in business. Why wait until you / your business starts encountering these problems.
If you want to discuss how to improve your internet connection, please get in touch and a boxx brain will be happy to help!