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Broadband providers share ways to boost speed during the coronavirus outbreak

Broadband firms have got together with telecoms regulator Ofcom to help people boost their internet speeds during the coronavirus pandemic.

With millions of us now working from home and with children off school, a reliable broadband connection has never been more important. While Ofcom has said broadband providers are generally confident of meeting this surge in demand during these unprecedented times, more people within each household are at home during the day, and trying to all get online at the same time can slow your connection.

To help, Ofcom has partnered with telecom firms to bring some top tips to get the most from your broadband – from simple steps such as moving your router and keeping it away from other devices, to the more unusual tip of not using your microwave when a fast connection is needed.

See our Boost Broadband Speed guide for more ways to improve your broadband, including how to test your speed for free.

How to boost your broadband speed

Ofcom tips to keep you connected include:

  • Move your router away from other devices. Cordless phones, baby monitors, halogen lamps, dimmer switches, stereos, speakers, TVs and monitors can all affect your signal if they're too close to your router. What's more, surprisingly microwave ovens can also reduce Wi-Fi signals.

  • Turn off Wi-Fi on devices you're not using. The more devices connected to your Wi-Fi, the slower the speed you'll get. So check the tablets and smartphones you're not using, as these are often always on in the background.

  • Just use audio for work conferences. If you're struggling with video conferences, turn off the video and just use audio, as this puts less demand on your connection.

  • Go for a wired connection if you can. For the best speed, wired connections are faster than connecting over Wi-Fi. So if you can, use an Ethernet cable.

  • Plug your router directly into your main phone socket. It's also worth plugging 'microfilters' into every phone socket – these are the little white boxes that split the phone and broadband signals.

My broadband speed is still slow – what can I do?

If you've tried all the tips above and you still see no improvement, get in touch with your supplier and it can check if there is an issue with your line. If it still can't fix your issues, or your connection just can't keep up with your internet needs, then you may want to consider a new deal.

Out of contract? You are free to leave – and you're likely overpaying anyway, as most providers hike costs once you're out of the promo period. See our How to get cheap broadband guide for help switching, and our Broadband Unbundled tool to compare the best deals.

For most, switching during the current crisis shouldn't be a problem as your switch can often be done remotely, with no one needing access to your home. The only issue is if you're switching from a cable provider (ie, Virgin Media) to a provider using the Openreach network (such as BT, Plusnet, TalkTalk, Sky and Vodafone), as Openreach engineers are no longer visiting people's homes to install a new line, so you'd have to wait until the current restrictions are lifted (Virgin engineers are currently still making visits).

Still in contract? There could be a way to switch penalty-free if you've taken out a deal since March 2019. As part of Ofcom's voluntary code, BT, Plusnet, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media now give you a minimum speed guarantee before you sign up. If it falls below this for three consecutive days, you can ask your provider to help. If the problems remain unresolved for 30 days, you should be able to leave your contract penalty-free – see full voluntary code info. Note: We're just checking with Ofcom that the rules have not changed during the current crisis.

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