Internet speed fluctuates wildly – here’s why

There is nothing more frustrating than one day your internet going at the rate of knots and the next it moving as slow as a snail stuck in treacle. This has become particularly more of a nuisance over the past couple of years with millions of us transitioning from office work to working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic. The need for fast and reliable internet has never been greater.

If you are someone who suffers from fluctuating internet speeds then you’ve come to the right place. In this article we are going to look at the reasons why your internet speed may be all over the place and look at some things that you can try in order to potentially fix the issue. Let’s get into it.

Internet speed fluctuates wildly – why this might be happening

The most common reason why your internet speed fluctuates wildly is all down to the placement of your router. This is especially the case if you are noticing that the fluctuation of your internet speed is linked to which room of your house you are in.

The ideal location of your router is completely subjective on a household by household basis. If you are working from home and are using a specific room as your office space then place the router in that room. If you are a keen gamer and the fluctuating speeds are affecting your online gaming experience then place the router next to your games console. If you are just generally wanting solid internet speeds across your house then place the router in a high location, near the ceiling in the most central room of your bottom floor.

As well as these subjective placements, here are a few good general rules for router placement which are good to follow:

  • Avoid placing it close to signal blockers such as microwaves or radios.
  • Avoid placing it on the floor to prevent any interference from other signals which travel along the floor.
  • Keep it in an open space away from any obstructions.

If moving your router proves to not have a significant impact on your internet speed then here are a selection of other things that you should consider trying:

Update your router’s firmware

Many of us are guilty of just purchasing an internet router, setting it up once and then leaving it in the corner for eternity. However, what we need to consider is the fact that router’s can be manually updated just like other modern technology such as smart phones, tablets and laptops. These updates not only tighten your online security but also ensure that your internet speed is where it should be. To update your router’s firmware, please follow these steps:

  1. Connect your router to a computer or laptop with an ethernet cable.
  2. Head to your router manufacturers’ website and look to see if there are any firmware updates available to download.
  3. If there are any then select ‘download’ and follow the on screen instructions.
  4. Log in to your router’s web management page.
  5. Update your router’s firmware by clicking ‘update’ and then selecting the previously downloaded firmware update.
  6. Unplug the ethernet cable and reboot your router to complete the upgrade.
  7. Over the next couple of hours, check to see if your internet speed has become more stable.

Change your frequency band

Another common reason why your internet speed may be fluctuating is if you are using the most common frequency band to connect to the internet. The majority of people are automatically placed on band 2.4 GHz but there are other options available to you. To change your frequency band, please follow these steps:

  1. Hook your router up to your laptop or computer with an ethernet cable.
  2. Log in to your router’s settings. This will be called something like admin management or system configuration.
  3. Select ‘wireless network’ and then find the section which displays which band you are on.
  4. Change the setting from 2.4 GHz to 5 GHz as a starting point.
  5. Save the changes and monitor the situation for a few days to see if the new frequency band makes a difference.
  6. If it doesn’t, go back in and try any other frequency bands that are available to you until you find one that stabilises your internet speed.

Reasons beyond our control

Unfortunately, there may be instances where there is nothing you can do about wavering internet speeds. The two most common situations relating to this are browsing the internet at peak times and using the internet on a bunch of devices at one time.

For example, if you are a family of four and each person in the household is using the internet on various devices such as games consoles, laptops, phones, tablets, smart speakers etc all at the same time then the speed will struggle. This will be exaggerated further if you are all using these devices between the hours of 6pm and 11pm.

The only way around this is to limit who uses the internet at any one time or signing up to a more expensive, but better, internet subscription that can cope with such a high usage. It could also be because of a power outage in your area, which you can usually determine by checking whether there’s an exclamation mark on your Wi-Fi router.

Conclusion

To conclude, a fluctuating internet speed isn’t the most uncommon problem in the world of technology and there isn’t a one size fits all approach that will fix the issue. We do hope, however, that by trying all of our suggestions above that you will eradicate the issue and secure a safe, consistent and quick internet speed going forward.

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Author

Andy

Andy is a Professional Content Editor with expertise in a whole host of areas (or so he tells us anyway). His main interests are sports, tv/film and social media. He has reviewed over 100 apps so far for Apps UK.

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