Broadband internet speed test – how to check if your BT, Sky, Virgin and TalkTalk WiFi download times are good enough

ANYONE can test their internet speeds for free in a matter of seconds – and you definitely should.

Checking your speed lets you know if you're getting good value for money from your broadband provider, and if you've got the WiFi chops to stream Netflix in 4K.

How to test your internet speed

There are loads of online tools that let you test your internet speed.

But arguably the most popular is by Ookla (a US data firm), which you can find here.

You can also download the app here:

  • Speedtest on iOS – download
  • Speedtest on Android – download

It tests your speeds in a number of ways using local servers, giving you a fairly accurate representation of your real-world download speeds.

Remember that if you're testing on mobile, make sure you're connected to WiFi to test the broadband speed. Otherwise, you'll be checking your mobile speeds instead.

So are you getting the right speeds?

Check with your internet provider, log into your broadband account or take a look at your bill to find details of your package.

A simple search should tell you what speed you're getting.

What's the difference between megabits and megabytes?

One important thing to look out for is the difference between megabits and megabytes.

Internet speeds are often described in megabits per second (Mbps), or just megabits (Mb).

Meanwhile, file sizes are often described in megabytes (MB).

One megabyte is equal to eight megabits.

So if you had 100Mbps internet speed, you would be downloading 12.5MB every second.

Which means a 500MB file would take 40 seconds to download – not five seconds.

What internet speeds do you need

The internet speed you need really depends on what you're doing.

For instance, Netflix makes these recommendations:

  • 0.5 megabits per second – Required broadband connection speed
  • 1.5 megabits per second – Recommended broadband connection speed
  • 3 megabits per second – Recommended for SD quality
  • 5 megabits per second – Recommended for HD quality
  • 25 megabits per second – Recommended for 4K quality

Of course, you'll need greater speeds if you have multiple people using the internet at once.

According to Ofcom, the UK average broadband speed for 2019 was 54Mbps.

Buying a package around that speed will be fine for most Brits – although may not be enough for very high-demand households.

Why is your internet speed slower

Often people complain that they pay for an expensive internet package, but their speeds aren't living up to the claims.

Sometimes this can be pinned on the broadband provider. Maybe there's a fault, or some other issue with their system.

It's also possible that your internet speeds may suffer at peak times – which are typically 6pm to 8pm.

However, it's also likely that problems with your own home are to blame.

People in very large houses may need to purchase WiFi extenders to flood their whole home with internet.

And common household objects like microwave ovens and lamps can also dampen your WiFi speeds.

Don't forget to put your WiFi router in a high position with clear lines of sight, not blocked by other objects.

In other news, find out if your internet is fast enough for Google Stadia.

Sky recently rolled out a "fast WiFi" guarantee – but it costs £5 a month.

And BT's Complete WiFi discs could boost your internet speeds by 25%.

What internet speed do you pay for? Let us know in the comments!

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