We all know the dream - fibre optics all the way to Torver with umpteen Megabits per second for all, but when? Coniston has it under Phase 1 and we may get considered for Phase 2 if there's any money left, but failing that we could get some crumbs in Phase 3, if there is a Phase 3. But whatever happens it's probably at least a year away and you ain't getting fibre optic cables to Greenrigg, or Rose Hill, or Sunnybank, or anywhere outside the centre of the village. If even there. So dream on!
But there is a lot we can do to make the best of what we've got. A couple of years ago we at The Larches pushed the boat out with a new router, iPlate, ethernet cables and a change of ISP (Internet Service Provider). The result was a rise in speed from well under 1 Mbps to a fairly consistent 1.8+ Mbps today.
Here's few ideas that you might try to get the best speed possible for your home system. But let me make it clear, I'm as far from being an expert in broadband as I am from brain surgery and sobriety, so if you have any ideas please send them in and I'll add them to this page.
BT i-plates and ADSL face plates.
I can't do better than refer you to the experts with this BT I-Plate versus an ADSL faceplate link. It tells you what they are about and why the faceplate is probably better. Amazon links on that page. If you fit an ADSL faceplate it has to go in the master socket as it will cancel out all your slave sockets for computer use. They'll still be fine for telephones.
Upgrading your Modem/Router
This is the expensive one but it can make a significant difference. The routers supplied free by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are usually the cheapest on the market and may not be much cop. A possible alternative is the posh Billion BiPAC 7800DXL (our choice), a very much superior kiddy but a bit of market research will produce others.
Wifi Router location
An obvious one really, but the closer your wifi router is to the computer the faster the speed, especially if it avoids the signal going through walls. Not so important with an ethernet cable (see below). However, the best place for the router is plugged into the telephone master socket, a bit of a problem if your computer is at the other end of the house or you cart it from room to room. But all is not lost....
Transfers your wifi signal to anywhere in the house using the electrical ring main - just plug them into the wall socket. We installed these some time back and there is virtually no signal loss through the mains - we even discarded our ethernet cables:
Not always an option, but an ethernet cable direct link from your wifi router to your computer does give a better connection with higher speed, especially in old rambling homes with thick walls. Both your computer and router should have ethernet sockets. But this does not tie your laptop to one work station as you can disconnect any time and switch back to wifi. When choosing your cable, measure the router to computer distance and buy the shortest possible, but do be careful. Feeding it through floors and ceiling spaces only to come up a foot short is really annoying.
Don't ask me for the techy reasons for it (look 'em up yourself), but modem/routers get sluggish over time, slowing your Internet connection, and occasional reboots perk them up no end. Once a month? Once a week? Or whenever your connection seems a bit slow. There'll be a stop/start switch or button - switch off, wait about 30 seconds and switch back on. It'll take a few minutes to reboot.
Choice of Internet Service Supplier
ISPs vary in their services and the speeds they offer, but most give you the "up to" speed which means little. We are now with Plusnet and have been well satisfied, but I know of one villager with Plusnet, closer to Coniston than we are, who get's about half our speed, so explore the review sites. I can say that although I was very worried about the switch-over, Plusnet made it very easy, guiding me through every stage and doing most of it themselves. I'm sure other ISPs do the same - after all, they want you.
ip or BRAS profiles
These are the speed limits applied to our broadband services by the local exchange. “Its purpose is to ensure the exchange doesn't 'overload' your broadband service by sending more data down your phone line than it (or your BT Hub, router or modem) can physically handle. Without this 'throttle', your broadband service would suffer from data loss.” (From the BT website) Put simply, if there is a temporary fault on the line Openreach may reduce your broadband speed to protect against data loss, but they often forget (or don't bother) to put it back afterwards. If you get a sudden speed loss phone your service provider and ask the helpful operator to check your ip/BRAS profile. If it is reduced he can send a signal to the exchange to correct it.
Defragmentation (Defrag) and Disc Clean
It's well worth running these programmes frequently - once a fortnight to once a month. Disc Clean (or Clean-up) removes cached and temporary files from your PC. Disk defragmentation will reverse a sort of entropy that gradually breaks down the files stored on your hard drive into small, scattered chunks - consolidates information on the disc making it easier for the computer to find. These two operations will not only increase your Internet speed, but will quicken up your computer.
For Windows 7 go to Start - Programs - Accessories - System Tools - Disc clean or Defrag.
For windows 8 go to Start - Programs - Administrative Tools - Disc clean or Defrag.
For other, earlier operating systems enter "Windows (your operating system) System Tools" into Google and instructions will appear somewhere.
A useful tip: When you find these programmes in the Systems or Administrative Tools list, before you launch them you can right click on them and 'Send to' your desktop. Drag and drop them into a corner and they are ready to use next time when you've forgotten how to find them down in the technical bowels of your computer.
Now send me more ideas and let's get them shared.