Why Is My Fiber Internet Slow? How To Troubleshoot & Fix Speed Issues
Slow internet can really put a damper on your day. Whether it’s lagging badly in the middle of a gaming session, or your Netflix stream keeps pausing to buffer, it’s a day to day annoyance that in most cases, fiber optic internet will help you avoid.
Fiber has the fastest internet speeds available today – you won’t find anything faster. In most cases, this means it’s smooth sailing as far as consistent, reliable high speeds.
But, there are still a few potential issues that can cause even a fiber optic connection to slow down abnormally. They’re usually related to the WiFi router, rather than the fiber connection itself. Fortunately, most of these are pretty simple to troubleshoot, diagnose, and fix.
We've identified some issues that might slow down your fiber connection, and ways to speed things up again.
Why is my fiber internet so slow?
On the whole, fiber optic internet offers the fastest speeds you can find on the market – no other type of internet connection comes close to fiber’s speeds, which can be up to 2 Gigs (or even more!) for residential service.
That said, there are still some potential issues that can end up slowing your internet speeds down significantly, even with fiber.
Here are some of the most common reasons for slow fiber internet.
This issue doesn’t affect the fiber internet itself, but instead, it’s your WiFi that’s slowed down.
There are several things that can lead to WiFi signal interference and slow your internet to a crawl. Some common offenders include:
- Other nearby networks. Your neighbor’s network can sometimes interfere with your own WiFi, especially in settings like apartment buildings where you have neighbors in close proximity with their own WiFi routers.
- Other WiFi networks belonging to you. If you have more than one network in your home or business, they can interfere with one another.
- Physical obstructions. Walls and furniture – particularly things made of metal – can physically block WiFi signals and interfere with your internet speeds.
- Bluetooth devices. Bluetooth technology uses “frequency hopping,” and can occasionally jump into WiFi’s range and create speed and traffic issues.
- Microwave ovens. Microwaves use 2.5 GHz electromagnetic waves to heat food – the same as older WiFi standards. While the amount is negligible from a health and safety perspective, microwaves do “leak” radiation, and this leakage can interfere with your WiFi.
Competing for bandwidth with other nearby users
Fidium Fiber uses only dedicated connections, not shared, so this issue doesn’t arise. However, other fiber providers may have infrastructure set up such that you’re actually sharing fiber cables with other nearby customers.
The “contention ratio” – that is, the number of users sharing the same cable – can sometimes be as high as ten people for one cable.
While fiber optic cables can transmit data incredibly fast, they still have a maximum amount that they can carry at one time. So in cases with shared fiber connections, you can experience some slowing during peak usage times.
Your WiFi router isn’t compatible with your fiber internet connection and its speed capabilities
The majority of modern routers that meet up-to-date WiFi standards are fully compatible with fiber optic internet, and can deliver the kinds of speeds that fiber offers.
(Fidium internet service comes with a WiFi 6 router included, so this generally isn’t an issue for our customers.)
However, some older routers may not be able to transmit data at the kinds of speeds and volumes that your fiber optic internet itself can provide. If this is the case, you may find that even though your fiber internet service offers speeds of 1 Gbps or higher, your router simply can’t keep up, so your effective speed via WiFi is much slower.
Your device itself is causing the connection slowdown.
In some cases, the problem might not lie with your router or your fiber connection, but instead, with your device itself.
This isn’t terribly common with most modern phones, laptops, tablets, and other internet-capable devices. However, you can sometimes see some slowing if you’re using old or lower-end electronics.
How to Fix Slow Fiber Optic Internet: Troubleshooting Tips
We’ve talked about some of the most common reasons why your fiber internet might be running a lot slower than it should be.
So how should you diagnose and fix the problem?
Run a network speed test
One of the first things you should do is to run a network speed test – you can do that using Fidium’s Attune or Attune@Work apps, or by using any of a number of online internet speed tools.
Using Fidium’s app will probably give you the most accurate results. We also recommend making sure that you’re using a relatively new, up-to-date device.
For testing at fiber’s high speeds – with Fidium, up to 2 Gbps depending on your plan – older devices may not be able to achieve those speeds, and so they’ll give a reading slower than what your actual fiber optic cables are delivering. We recommend using a device – ideally, a laptop or PC – that’s no older than 2019, runs Windows 10 or MacOS 10 or higher, and has at least 16GB of RAM.
Try using a direct ethernet connection, rather than a WiFi connection, to see if it gives you faster speeds.
Generally speaking, a direct ethernet connection is likely to be faster than a WiFi connection, although there ideally shouldn’t be much of a difference.
This can help you figure out whether the issue is with the fiber connection, or if it’s your router that’s causing the problem.
Check whether one of your connected devices is using an unusual or excessive amount of bandwidth.
Because fiber internet offers very high speeds relative to other types of internet service, this issue isn’t as common as it is with cable or DSL. But, it’s still a possibility that you may want to rule out.
Especially in larger households with numerous devices connected at any one time, things like video streaming, gaming, large file downloads, and other data-hungry activities can weigh things down and suck up bandwidth, causing other devices’ connections to slow down.
If this is a recurring issue, you may want to consider upgrading to a higher tier fiber internet plan that would provide more data.
Avoid proximity of WiFi connected devices to certain other appliances
We’ve mentioned that microwave ovens are known for interfering with WiFi. This is probably the best known instance of this phenomenon, but you can also experience interference from various other types of electronics and appliances. Baby monitors and even some smart TVs could potentially cause signal interference.
If this is the cause of the slow fiber connection, you may want to relocate some of the electronics or appliances.
Check if metal structures inside your building might be interfering with WiFi transmission.
This is generally more common in offices and other commercial or industrial facilities, versus inside of people’s homes.
Structures made from iron or steel, like fan boxes for example, can sometimes block electromagnetic radiation entirely – which includes your WiFi signal.
Very thick walls can also pose a physical obstruction.
In some cases, the issue might be something like a load-bearing wall in the way, or some other permanent structure that you can’t really move or relocate. If this is an issue, you can often get around it by buying a WiFi extender. These devices are designed to expand the range that your WiFi signal can reach, and can help you get around these kinds of obstructions.
Fidium helps make slow internet connections a thing of the past.
Fiber internet’s high speeds and low latency make it the best option if you want to avoid having your internet slow down. While slowing can happen occasionally due to various factors, you won’t see the kind of throttling or peak hour slowdowns you can run into with cable or DSL.
Ready to make the switch? Click here to check whether Fidium Fiber is available near you!