What makes an internet connection slow down?


Is your internet connection moving slower than usual? Your average speeds may be affected by a number of factors, which can vary depending on the type of internet service you subscribe to. Stay with us to learn more about common causes of internet slowdowns.

Neighborhood web traffic

Some types of internet service are more vulnerable to bandwidth congestion. At high-traffic times (like at night, when many people are returning home from work, or on weekends and holidays), your neighbors’ internet usage may slow your connection down. That’s because parts of your internet infrastructure are shared with the rest of the street.

If the shared connection doesn’t offer enough bandwidth, it won’t be able to meet everyone’s data demands without some loss of speed. If this is a regular occurrence with your current plan, consider upgrading to a plan or provider that offers more speed.

Number of devices and users

When more people are in your home than usual and there are more devices are connected via Wi-Fi, you might experience some loss of speed. This is especially true if one or more users are streaming entertainment, backing up lots of data to the cloud, or downloading a large file. If your household situation has recently changed (as when a roommate moves in, or you add several new devices to your collection), it might be time to think about an internet plan upgrade.


High winds, floods, lightning, and other forms of inclement weather can damage the internet equipment housed outside your home. If you notice drastic loss of speed or even an outage after a storm, call your provider for assistance.

Signal band interference

Fun fact: different routers broadcast their signals on different frequency bands. When multiple routers are broadcasting at the same frequency in close proximity to one another, interference can occur. Download an app like Wifi Analyzer to scan your home. If there are lots of nearby networks sharing your frequency, find out if your router allows you to choose a different frequency. If it doesn’t, you might consider upgrading to a newer model. A dual-band or tri-band router could improve your connection significantly.

Router placement

Choose your wireless router’s placement carefully. (Check out these tips from Wired.) A central location works best, because distance can weaken a Wi-Fi signal. Walls can interfere with signal strength, especially when they’re reinforced with concrete or brick. Electrical devices like cordless landline phones and microwaves can cause interference too. Recap: choose an open, central space that’s not in your kitchen to make the most of your connection. Have a big house? A wireless extender might help your Wi-Fi reach farther.

The bottom line

If your internet connection isn’t doing the job and troubleshooting hasn’t helped, it might be time to upgrade your plan — or make the switch to a different provider. Do some research and compare plan options to get the speed you need.