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As we do more and more online, broadband speed is important. The better your connection, the faster you can browse the internet or download a film.

So, whether you’ve got high-speed fibre optic broadband or an ADSL connection, our guide will help you speed test your broadband. We'll also look at how to improve your broadband speed.

What is internet connection speed measured in?

Broadband speed is measured in Mbps (megabits per second). Bits are tiny units of data - there are 1 million bits in a megabit. 

The more Mbps you have, the quicker your internet connection will be. 

You might have also heard the term bandwidth. This is the amount of data that can be transmitted over a connection in a fixed period of time. It’s usually measured in Mbps. Using more than one device at a time can use up your bandwidth and slow your connection.

Don’t confuse megabits per second with megabytes (MB). Megabytes show file or memory size.

You can find out what estimated speeds you could get with SSE broadband by using our line checker. Just enter your postcode and phone number and check availability. You'll find your estimated speed range shown on each available package.

What is my download speed and upload speed?

Downloading is when data is transferred from the internet to your computer, phone or other device. This could include downloading or streaming a video. The quicker your average download speed, the sooner the video will be ready to watch.

Other things affected by download speed include:

  • Loading a webpage.
  • Streaming music.
  • Checking your emails.
  • Downloading documents.

Upload speed is the time it takes for you to send a file to another computer via the internet. For example, your upload speed affects how long it takes to post a photo to social media.

Other things affected by upload speeds include:

  • Sending files via email.
  • Playing online games.

Upload speeds are generally slower than download speeds. This is because most people download more data than they upload.

You can check your download and upload speeds by doing a line speed test. To do this with your current broadband connection, use the Ofcom broadband speed checker.

What does access line speed and throughput speed mean?

Access line speed is the maximum speed of the internet connection into your home. It’s how fast you can receive data from the local telephone exchange.

The maximum broadband speed in your area will vary according to your type of connection.  

For ADSL connections, your broadband speed depends on the distance between your home and the telephone exchange. Your speed is also affected by how far your house is from the street cabinet connecting you to the exchange.

With fibre broadband, the distance to the telephone exchange doesn’t matter. But your distance from the street cabinet can affect your speed.

Throughput is the connection speed on a device that’s connected to your broadband. 

This depends on the connection between your router and your device. It can be affected by where you put your router, how thick your walls are and how many devices are using your broadband.

My broadband speed is slow – how do I improve it?

There are several things you can do to try and speed up your broadband.

  • Use a micro-filter on every telephone socket in your home with equipment attached.
  • Connect your wireless router to your main telephone socket, not an extension.
  • Keep your router away from lamps, speakers, TVs, monitors and cordless phones. These can cause electrical interference.
  • Keep your router in 'line of sight' of your computer or other devices if possible.
  • Use a wired connection to your router. An Ethernet cable can be faster and more stable than a wireless connection.
  • Check for applications running in the background on your computer. Shut down any you don’t need.
  • Keep anti-virus software up to date. As well as being a security risk, viruses can slow down your broadband connection.
  • Protect your Wi-Fi with a password to stop anyone using your broadband without permission.
  • Upgrade your current internet connection to a fibre optic broadband plan. First, check if there's fibre optic in your area.

Line speed and connection testing

You can check your estimated SSE broadband line speed by using our line checker. Enter your postcode and landline number to check availability. You'll find your estimated speed range shown on each available package.

Or, if you want to test your existing broadband speed, use the Ofcom broadband speed checker.

If you’ve recently switched broadband providers, it can take a few days for your connection speed to stabilise. During this time it’s normal for broadband speeds to vary, or even for your connection to be intermittent. This happens while the exchange is working out what speed is best for your line.

Please also remember your download and upload rates may vary at any time, depending on:

  • How many people are using the broadband in your area at the same time.
  • The speed of the websites you’re visiting.
  • Whether your computer is running other software at the same time.
  • The day of the week and time of day. Peak times tend to be weekends, and weekdays after 4pm.
  • The wireless standard of connected equipment.
  • How many devices you have connected at any time, and what they are doing.

If you notice your broadband is slower than it should be or the connection is intermittent, please contact us. We’ll be happy to look into it, so we can work out what's wrong and help sort out any issues.