Why Does My Internet Speed Fluctuate? | Optimize Your Connection for More Bandwidth

You may have experienced such a situation where one minute you are enjoying the incredible speed of the internet and then slows down in the next. The internet connection could be worse in one part of the house or one device.

There are several factors that can lead to fluctuations. How you deal with the fluctuation problem is dependent on whether your connection is Wi-Fi or ethernet cable enabled. If you are worried about dealing with the issues, worry no more as we got you covered.

Why Do My Internet Speeds Fluctuate So Much? 

Internet fluctuations could be due to several reasons, which include:

Type of Internet Connection 

The speed you are experiencing in your internet connection can be due to your type of connection. There are various types of internet connections which include:

  • DSL: the Digital Subscriber Line connection uses a copper wire to connect a broadband connection. The connection accommodates up to 3Mbps
  • ADSL: Asymmetrical Direct Subscribe Line also uses copper wires for connections, but it focuses on faster download speeds other than upload speeds. This type of connection is common among internet service providers but can be a challenge for people who upload large files and gamers.
  • Cable connection: cable connection uses coaxial cables, and it has high-speed capabilities. Coaxial cables can carry data faster than copper wires used in the ADSL connection. However, there is a possibility of many households sharing coaxial cables, which can lead to low internet speeds, especially in peak times.
  • Satellite: satellite internet connections don't use cables or wires for connection. Instead, data is sent up in the air, where satellites receive it and then send it back to its intended destination. Although this type of connection is common, it is much slower due to the long distances involved. The connection can reach broadband speeds, but it can be affected by bad weather and other situations.
  • Fiber: instead of coaxial cables, copper wires, or phone lines, fiber connection uses fiber-optic cables to accommodate large amounts of data. Fiber cable internet connection is the faster type of internet connection available.
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Router Location 

Your router's location can also contribute to the slow speed of the internet you are experiencing and the fluctuations.

You should avoid placing the device close to potential signal blockers such as microwaves, radios, walls, and other obstructions to fix the problem.

You should also get the device away from the floor as other signals can travel along the floor and interfere with the signals from the device.


Router Settings

You can troubleshoot your device to see if there are any issues you can troubleshoot to fix the speed fluctuation problem.

Some of the issues you can troubleshoot include:

  • Most routers use the 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi channel. The channel is a busy one, and if other people are using overlapping channels, the bandwidth is affected, which can slow down your internet connection.
  • The Request To Send (RTS) threshold settings for your device may be too low. The maximum settings are 2346, and adjusting the threshold can help your device become more stable.
  • Also, the modem/router may have data packet size settings that can limit how much data you can send or receive at once. Ensure your device is not set below the Maximum Transition Unit.
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Throttling 

Sometimes, internet service providers throttle your internet speeds if you exceed your internet data limit.

The throttling can lead to internet fluctuations.


Malware

If malware infects your computer software or applications, you may experience fluctuations in the speed of the internet.

Some malware can even open multiple browsers in the background, which can slow the internet speeds.

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Why Is My Internet Slow at Night? 

It is not unlikely to experience slow internet speeds at night. Most people use the internet at home at night, especially in the rush hour between 7-11 pm.

It isn't much you can do to increase the speed of the internet at this hour, especially if you are a cable internet user. You can minimize the number of devices you use at this particular time or subscribe to a faster internet speed.


How Do I Fix The Speed Fluctuation of My Internet?

Run a Speed Test

Before you can proceed, it's essential that you check whether the issue is with your internet service provider (see the Spectrum review and it's comparison with AT&T here). Running a test of the speed will help you know whether your speed is the same as you expect from your internet subscription.

If you have a game console or computer, you can test the internet connection by connecting the device to the router using an ethernet cable.

If the speed is slower than you expect or doesn't work even after direct plugging, the problem may be with your ISP. You can call your ISP support team for help, and other providers can offer remote diagnostics to look at the problem. These top internet provider here are known to have great customer support.

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Update Your Router Firmware

As with any other hardware and software in the digital world, you should ensure that your device is up-to-date.

Updating the software ensures that your device works with the latest security features. Additionally, updating the router ensures that it uses the latest bug fixes that can ensure you enjoy faster Wi-Fi speeds for faster video downloading, etc.

You should make sure you update the modem/router firmware before any further troubleshooting. If you are already using an updated firmware, reboot the device to clear cache and then reset the software. Also, for the best modem/router combo follow this link.


Update Your Device Hardware

As with the router firmware, using outdated devices can also lead to reduced internet sped. Upgrade your hardware to the latest releases and also ensure the routers run on the latest software.


Choose the Best Wi-Fi Channel 

Wi-Fi networks broadcast on various channels and use different frequency bands.

During the early days of wireless networking, routers only broadcasted using the 2.4 GHz channel. Today, with the expansion of channels, modern routers can broadcast on either 2.4GHz or 5GHz. Switching from one Wi-Fi channel to another can help deal with fluctuating internet speeds.

However, there is a possibility another electrical equipment is broadcasting at your frequency which can cause overcrowding and slow down the internet speeds.

Photo of Modem Router Combo

Check the Internet Bandwidth

You may notice that your internet speed is fluctuating at certain times or specific times of the day. Other software or other devices are likely using your bandwidth. These can include online gaming (check out the best Wi-Fi gaming extender) , video streaming, and large downloads, which eat away your bandwidth.

You can check who is eating into your Wi-Fi bandwidth from a third-party program or the router. Checking the router settings will inform you of any interference and find out which devices are connected to your wireless network.

If there are any devices in your coverage that you don't recognize, you should eliminate them.


Optimize Your Router Placement 

When you are setting up your Wi-Fi network, you may not be keen on where you want to place your Wi-Fi router.

However, the environment around your router can affect the speed of the internet and the quality of your network.

The wireless signals can be blocked entirely or slowed down, which can affect your Wi-Fi connection. Metal and concrete are some of the most effective in blocking wireless signals. As such, if you have your router in the concrete-walled basement, you can consider moving it to another position in the house.

You can also consider positioning your router at the center of the house as Wi-Fi signals broadcast at 360 degrees. Thus, you'll get the best coverage even when the router is not at the end of the house.

home router

Tighten Your Internet Connection Security 

As you try to find out why your WiFi connection fluctuates, you may have found multiple devices connected to your network.

Even if you get rid of the devices, it suggests that someone can access your Wi-Fi network. It can be a neighbor leeching off your Wi-Fi network or something more threatening.

There are various ways you can configure your router to enhance the security of your home network. Most routers and other devices are usually set with the same credentials, including user: admin and password: password. Ensure the router is secured with a wireless password. Most of the routers have the device stuck on the device itself.

Use hard-to-guess passwords and WPA2 security.


Be Aware of Your Internet Usage

Your internet users' behavior can also be a contributor to your low-speed problem. Sometimes you may leave a window open. If the open tab or window is using essential resources, it can slow you down.

Do not accept add-ins to programs that you often use, as they can also slow you down. Don't spend a lot of time on graphic pages and ensure what you are downloading is from a reputable source.

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Conclusion

Are you experiencing speed fluctuations while using the internet? The low speed in your network could be due to various reasons, including outdated software, old hardware, choosing the wrong bandwidth, etc. You can deal with the issue by ensuring you use the latest hardware, firmware, changing your router location, changing the router settings, and enhancing your network security.

FAQs

1. How do I fix my internet connection fluctuations?

Here are some suggestions for resolving intermittent internet speed.

- Inspect Your Connected Devices.
- Perform a Bandwidth Check.
- Reposition Your Router.
- Update the firmware on the router.
- Maintain Hardware and Software Updates on Your Device.
- Select The Most Effective Wi-Fi Channel.
- Be Conscious of Your Use.
- Is Your Speed Consistent With The Plan You Purchased?

2. Why is my Internet connection not stable?

The majority of the time, this issue is caused by local factors affecting the wireless signal. A WiFi connection that frequently disconnects or fails to work can also be caused by network congestion. Another issue with WiFi is that smartphones are notoriously inept at managing WiFi connections.

3. Why does my Internet speed jump up and down?

If you notice that your Wi-Fi speeds are decreasing on a regular basis or at certain times of day, it's possible that software or other devices are consuming your bandwidth. Large downloads, video streaming, and online gaming can all consume significant amounts of bandwidth, so check for these first.

4. How much speed should I lose over WiFi?

It depends on your ISP's bandwidth, but using Ethernet instead of WiFi will never result in a loss of speed. It is more than likely that the opposite will occur — WiFi will become slower. If your bandwidth is limited, this is unlikely to make a practical difference. The majority of WiFi networks operate at around 100 Mbps, even on the 2.4 GHz band (802.11 bn).

5. Why does my WIFI fluctuate so much?

Due to the fact that Wi-Fi operates on a radio frequency, the signal can be disrupted by wireless interference. This can happen in a variety of ways, all of which contribute to Wi-Fi fluctuation. A significant reason for Wi-Fi signal fluctuation is the large number of potential physical obstructions.

About Dusan Stanar

I'm the founder of VSS Monitoring. I have been both writing and working in technology in a number of roles for dozens of years and wanted to bring my experience online to make it publicly available. Visit https://www.vssmonitoring.com/about-us/ to read more about me.

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