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Virgin Media reveals tricks to boost your broadband speeds

Struggling with slow download speeds? Virgin Media published a blog post with some practical tips to help you increase your speed. “If you’re out of the office, you might not have the benefit of calling the IT team when you’re stuck – unless someone you live with doubles up with an ace versatile technology,” the blog post reads, before sharing a few. tips to help you improve video streaming, download speeds, and manage dual concurrent Wi-Fi networks in your home to improve connectivity to your devices.

Of course, there’s not a whole lot these things can do. If you’re on an older, slower broadband plan and trying to stream blockbusters in 4K Ultra HD picture quality…it won’t work. Netflix recommends a minimum of 25Mbps to watch in this crisp image format – and that’s the only thing you do. If you live in a busy house, with other people streaming music, downloading software updates, backing up their photos to the cloud, making video calls, or playing video games online at the same time, you will need much, much more bandwidth to guarantee everyone a stutter-free experience.

The good news is that Virgin Media has finished upgrading its 15.5 million customers to gigabit-capable connections. With download speeds of over 1000Mbps, gigabit-enabled fiber is some of the fastest broadband available in the UK today. If you’re not on contract, you may miss out on recently improved speeds (you’re also about to be saddled with a record price hike on your bills, unless you sign a new contract with Virgin Media…)

If you’re happy with your current speeds, but still struggling to stream video at home, hope these tips from Virgin Media help you get everything working again.

First, Virgin Media Warnings runs a speed test to check if the problem lies with the streaming service you’re trying to use, or if your speeds have gone bad. “If the broadband speed is much slower than normal, there may be a problem with your broadband router, your broadband or phone line, or the internet service provider’s network,” warns Virgin Media. If your speeds are lower than you expected? Contact technical support.

If bandwidth is in trouble (maybe you’re downloading a gigantic OS update or a video game in the other room), you can always lower the quality of the streaming video. Most streaming services offer this option, allowing you to select a specific resolution, or choose between high (1080p – full HD), medium or low (480p – standard definition).

If you want to watch in the best quality available, you can always pause the video and let it buffer. You will be able to see how much has been buffered by looking at the video player search bar. Likewise, downloading the video could also be a good option. For example, you can do this on All 4 and BBC iPlayer. You’ll have to wait a while for the download as the file will likely be large, but once the download is complete, you’ll be able to play the video uninterrupted (and on the go).

Each device connected to your broadband will reduce available bandwidth, so turn off anything not in use so there is enough capacity for video. Stop or pause apps or services running in the background – this is especially relevant if you’re streaming on a computer.

If none of that works, there’s always the proven way to turn your device off and on again! Restart the software first, and if that doesn’t help, restart the streaming device. Still in trouble? Using your antivirus, check for malware or viruses that may be impacting your device’s performance or potentially slowing your broadband speed.

It’s also possible that the speed entering your home is working as expected, but there are obstacles preventing bandwidth from reaching all Wi-Fi connected devices. To get the best performance from your Virgin Media brand router, the internet provider warns customers to ensure their hub is upright, out in the open (but out of direct sunlight if possible). An easy way to tell if you’re getting the most out of the signal is to check if your Virgin Media Hub’s lights are facing the room (and your devices). This way, your Hub’s strongest Wi-Fi signal goes outward, not down to the ground.

Objects can block and slow down Wi-Fi. The same goes for wireless signals from other household devices, like baby monitors and cordless phones. If you use any of these devices in your home, Virgin Media advises you to “aim for a one-meter clearance” between them and your Wi-Fi router.

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Virgin Media also shared some very helpful tips on concurrent Wi-Fi signals. In the simplest forms – when you’re online, your Wi-Fi connection uses radio waves to transmit information to and from your computer and wireless devices like tablets and smartphones. Most broadband providers use the same radio band, which is 2.4 GHz. With so many people using the same band at the same time, there is a lot of congestion, which slows down the flow of information.

It is also affected by other things including baby monitors, cordless phones, and microwaves because they use the same band to operate. This is why these devices can cause interference with this very important Wi-Fi signal.

All Virgin Media-branded hubs also have a different, less busy band, which is 5 GHz. The 5 GHz band has a shorter range than the 2.4 GHz band, but is ideal for activities such as streaming HD movies. Hubs 3, 4, and 5 have a single SSID (the technical name of your wireless network name) that covers both bands, but if you have a Super Hub, Super Hub 2, or Super Hub 2ac, you need to make sure that your devices are able to connect to the best group for them. If you have a fairly new device, you’d be better served with 5GHz, which doesn’t travel as well and can be perplexing through brick walls…but offers much faster wireless speeds.