If you’re working from home during the coronavirus crisis, you’ll understand the frustration of having a bad internet connection. You’re trying to get work done and nothing will load, it takes ages just to send an email and joining a video conference call is impossible.
With more of the UK working from home than ever, research by switching service Broadband Choices has found that internet searches for terms such as ‘slow broadband’ have increased by more than 60% over the past few weeks.
Because more people are working from home, you may experience slower internet speeds as the network struggles with the increase in demand. Even more annoyingly, it’s more likely to happen when everyone logs on to start work in the morning.
So what are your rights when it comes to having rubbish internet — and what can you do?
“If your download speed is far lower than what you've been promised, you have a right to complain, and even cancel without penalty if Ofcom agrees that it's particularly bad. If you’re unhappy with your service, your first port of call should be to contact your provider to see if they can resolve the issue,” says Mark Pocock from broadbandchoices.co.uk.
However, the current situation has put an unprecedented strain on the UK’s internet infrastructure, meaning internet speeds may suffer despite a provider’s best efforts. It also means resolving any complaints may take longer.
The vast majority of switches and upgrades will be unaffected by the recent Openreach announcement, with most suppliers providing their regular service.
“While the Openreach announcement that it is suspending home visits sounds significant, in reality it should have very little effect on the vast majority of customers who are looking to switch provider or upgrade their existing deals,” Pocock says.
“We are seeing little to no impact on switches between Openreach providers and only very minor delays for those moving from Openreach-based providers, such as BT, Sky or TalkTalk to Virgin Media.”
How can I improve the connection on my video calls?
Video calls can be particularly impacted by an increase in demand as they rely on several different internet connections and servers to make them happen, according to Broadband Choices.
To improve the quality of your calls, they recommend turning off the video options unless it is completely necessary. You could also try avoiding peak hours such as 9am, or closing any other tabs you may be running on your device which could be eating up bandwidth.
“Most people will set calls on the hour or first thing in the morning, so moving your video calls to avoid them should provide a more stable connection,” Pocock says.
Read more: Four ways to hold a virtual meeting
“Turn off or disable the wi-fi on devices that may be connected to your network that you aren’t using, such as phones, smart speakers or unused tablets, as these can passively eat up your bandwidth.”
If you have consistently poor connection in parts of your home, Pocock recommends getting a wi-fi extender which can help boost your signal throughout your home. You could also consider purchasing a third-party internet router, which can often provide significantly better wi-fi connections than the ones provided by suppliers, but requires a little technical know-how to set up.