Small Business / Internet / Troubleshooting

Why is my business internet connection slow?

Dennis Thankachan
You paid extra for a “business” internet connection. Shouldn’t you get faster speeds and higher uptime? Shouldn’t you be free of the issues you have with your home cable connection? Perhaps, but not necessarily. In this post, we’ll help you understand first and foremost that not all business internet connections are created equal and provide some basic troubleshooting steps for your connectivity. If you’re a business owner / office manager, it’s extremely important you understand these dynamics, as 75% of business decision makers in a recent survey noted that bad internet connectivity hurt their profitability.

Do you know what your connection is supposed to deliver?

  • Check your plan specs and run a speed test. First, visit your ISP’s website / look back at your service contract and determine what bandwidth speeds you’re supposed to be getting. Speeds are often quoted in megabits per second, and ~5-10 mbps of download speed per employee using the network should be more than enough. If the bandwidth amount itself is not an issue, verify that you’re actually getting that much bandwidth delivered by running a speed test here or here. Note that speed tests themselves can be variable like your ISP connection, so run it a couple of times on different sites and always use a wired connection when possible. If what’s being delivered doesn’t match your plan, some troubleshooting might be needed.
  • Are you on a “shared” connection? If you’re buying a cheap (<$200 / month) cable connection, it’s likely that you’re on a “shared” bandwidth connection. This means that advertised download speeds from the ISP are often maximum possible speeds rather than expected speeds, as your bandwidth is being split between your business and other nearby users on the same network. Also, your upload speeds are likely much lower than your download speeds. If you’re experiencing slow speeds during peak utilization hours, it’s likely due to other users clogging the network. Dedicated internet access (DIA) costs a bit more than shared access, but alleviates these issues by giving you a dedicated connection between you and the ISP that guarantees a symmetric download / upload speed with >99% uptime backed by an SLA. If you’re on a dedicated connection and not getting the bandwidth purchased, more troubleshooting is needed, and you may need to contact your ISP.
  • Is connectivity always an issue? If you troubleshoot regularly but continue to have internet-related issues, it’s likely that your actual ISP plan is the issue and it may be worth looking into an upgrade. You can troubleshoot all day, but if a shared connection / too little bandwidth is holding you back, you’ll never fix the problem by resetting your router.

My connection is normally fine, help me troubleshoot!

If you think your plan itself is fine and connectivity is normally not an issue, here are some troubleshooting steps we recommend.
  1. Check your hardware. First, turn off your modem and router, wait a few seconds, and then turn them back on to reset your connections. Then, evaluate the connection speed again. If things are still slow, check other computers / devices to verify that the device itself is not the issue.
  2. See if a single program is hogging bandwidth. Some programs consume far more bandwidth than others. If you’re on a low-bandwidth connection (cable or DSL), a video call, an online game, or video stream can hog your entire network’s capabilities. Shut off any programs that might be utilizing disproportionate amounts of bandwidth and see if that helps solve the problem. Many routers track utilization by MAC address, and this can point you to clients that are chewing up lots of bandwidth
  3. Reposition your router or wireless APs. Even if your connection is great, a poorly positioned wireless access point can lead to slow speeds due to signal interference. Reposition your access points to avoid physical obstacles that can block signal (walls for example).
  4. Call your ISP. If none of these efforts work, call your ISP’s tech support to see if there might be an issue on their end. A network outage could be causing an issue, or it may be a provisioning issue on their end. Carriers also have the ability to run more sophisticated speed tests that have far fewer variables, so make them try those out!

Ugh, I need a better connection :(

Is internet connectivity ALWAYS an issue for you? Are you on a low-end cable connection that isn’t cutting it, or even a dedicated connection that just needs more bandwidth? Thank heavens that there is now way more competition in the ISP space than we could ever hope for! Switching providers and / or improving service is now easy.

If you’re on a shared or DSL connection, we’d recommend looking into a dedicated internet connection. It’ll cost a bit more, but the satisfaction and time gained is almost always worth it. If you’re already on a dedicated internet connection, we’d recommend upping your bandwidth. Also, it’d probably be smart to make sure you’re on a provider who can continue to scale up your connection if needs continue to increase. If you’re already on a contract that doesn’t roll off for some time, you can add a new connection on as your primary connection and use a load balancer to traffic bandwidth across both connections, or even see if a new provider would cover termination fees from your old provider. So long as you run an exhaustive quote process, you’re likely to find that providers get more competitive on pricing by the day.

If you’re looking into a provider switch, we can help you assess the market for free. Fill out our questionnaire to get quotes for faster internet access here.

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