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Tips for the best home internet

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Tips to improve your broadband speed

Getting the best out of your broadband isn’t all about the plan you’re on. Even with the best connection in the world, you can run into problems getting a great broadband experience. Thankfully, there’s a number of things you can do to make buffering a thing of the past at your place, ranging from the simple to the more complex.

Test your speed

Running a speed test is an easy and quick way to start troubleshooting slow broadband or check what speed you're getting right now.

The Chorus Speed Test can help you identify potential issues in your WiFi setup and the results will give you a performance benchmark for how fast your connection is running given the broadband type (copper, fibre, wireless) and the plan speed you've subscribed to. 

Discover moreLearn how to test your broadband speed

Get the fastest broadband you can

Upgrading your broadband connection is the quickest and easiest way to improve your internet experience. Did you know 60% of New Zealand homes and businesses have a better broadband option available they aren't taking advantage of?

Fibre is your best choice, delivering the highest performance with speeds up to 900Mbps. But if fibre isn’t yet an option for you, VDSL is next in line, delivering an immediate speed increase from ADSL.

If you’re not sure what connection you have, use the Chorus Broadband Checker to find out the connection you’re on now and what options are available at your place.

Learn moreBroadband connection types explained

Upgrade your router

Like other devices, it's a good idea to replace your router (sometimes referred to as a modem) every five years or so to make sure it can cope with advancements in broadband technology. You usually get a new router from your internet provider when you upgrade your broadband plan. Some routers have limits on the speed they can reach so ask your provider if your router can handle the speeds required by your connection.

If you're looking to buy a new router, compare the specifications (memory, processor power, number of antennas) of different models and purchase the best one you can afford – it'll give you a better fixed connection and better WiFi throughout your home. Choose a model which uses a modern wifi standard. Currently, that means Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) or Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax).

Buying a new router can be a daunting task. The good news is there are many great review sites to steer you through the buying process. The WirecutterPC MagTechradar, and Cnet are all great places to start your research.

Learn moreWhat's the difference between a modem and router?

Optimise your home network

Where you place your router will have a big impact on the quality of wifi you experience throughout your home. Wifi signals travel a limited distance and they can’t pass through some materials. In some cases other electronic devices, especially cordless phones and microwave ovens, can interfere with wifi. If you're not getting the speed you expect, try moving the wifi router to another position. We recommend placing your router in a central position within your house and as high as possible.

It's also a good idea to place your router near your TV and other data-hungry devices like internet-capable stereo receivers and game consoles. This will make it easy for you to plug these devices into your router using an ethernet cable and improve the quality of your video, music and game streaming experiences. Remember, data travels many times faster over ethernet cable when compared with wifi, so where possible go wired, rather than wireless.

Extend your home network coverage

If you live in a large home or a home on multiple levels (or a small apartment with lots of obstructions) you might find your router by itself isn't up to the task of transmitting wifi throughout your dwelling. You'll need to extend your network to those rooms with a weak signal. Delivering ethernet cables to these areas is your best option, but it can be an expensive and difficult job to retrofit cables in an existing home.

Your other options are to extend your network coverage using a powerline adapter or installing a mesh wifi network or a wifi extender. The technology you choose will depend on you what material your house is constructed from - and your may even need a mix of powerline and wifi extension to get around difficult obstructions like concrete and glass.

These solutions add complexity and cost to your home network, so your first step should be to upgrade your router, which could provide a boost to the strength and range of your network without buying additional devices.

Learn moreWhat is a mesh network?

Update and upgrade your devices

The device you are using to connect to the internet can have a huge impact on your broadband performance. The average PC in New Zealand is over 3 years old and older devices can struggle to keep up with large amounts of incoming data.

Even the best devices can only do so much. You may see poor online performance if you’ve got a lot of apps running on the same device at the same time. You may be able to get a better internet experience simply by updating your browser to a new version. If that doesn’t work try switching to a modern version of ChromeFirefox or Safari. Also check that you don’t have lots of browser extensions installed, these can slow your connection.

Upgrading old mechanical hard drives to SSD drives and installing as much memory (RAM) as your PC can take will greatly improve your computer's performance.

Find the right broadband provider

While on the surface, broadband providers offer similar plans at similar prices, there is a variation in the performance of different plans. Different service providers make different investment decisions about how they structure their network. The choices they make about backhaul, handover, routing and peering affect how their network performs and how fast your data travels from the local exchange or cabinet to the rest of the internet.

There are ways to find out which service providers do the best job. The Commerce Commission publishes speed and performance comparisons for copper, fibre and fixed wireless providers.

Head to the Commerce Commission website to read the latest Measuring Broadband New Zealand report, then find the best plan and deal for you at Glimp or Broadband Compare.

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