Why Do Internet Speeds Slow Down at Certain Times During the Day?

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If you have a cable Internet connection, it’s common for it to drastically slow down Monday through Friday, from about 7:00 p.m. until bedtime. These are the “Internet peak hours” when many users are logged on at once, causing a slow connection.

Internet Slows Down with More Users

According to Microsoft, “local Internet congestion can result in slower-than-normal connection speeds.” When many people are online at the same time, Internet speeds will slow down for those with cable Internet. That’s because when you’re connected with cable, you share a connection with your neighbors. When multiple homes are logged on at the same time, they share bandwidth and speed is reduced.

Tasks that require high bandwidth, such as streaming movies, uploading photos or downloading music, are made nearly impossible.

Broadband speeds were studied in homes in the United Kingdom. The study found that between the hours of 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m., download speeds decreased by an average of 35 percent.

The peak Internet times might vary for your home, depending on where you live, but the results are still the same – delayed Internet.

Insight from the FCC

The Federal Communications Commission performed a study on the speeds of DSL, cable and fiber optic Internet connections. During peak periods, it found a difference in actual speeds compared to speeds advertised by providers.

According to the study, “During peak periods, DSL connections delivered average download speeds that were 82 percent of advertised speeds, cable-modem services delivered 93 percent of advertised speeds and fiber-optic lines delivered service that was 14 percent faster than advertised.”

With DSL and cable, Internet users did not get the speeds they paid for. With fiber-optic Internet however, they received faster speeds.

Why Fiber-optic Internet is More Reliable

A home with a fiber connection gets 24/7 dedicated bandwidth, so Internet speeds aren’t compromised by the Internet use of neighbors. Since fiber-optic conductors are glass, they don’t generate electricity. Therefore, they are immune to most interferences that afflict copper cable wires, such as bad weather.

Most importantly, with a fiber-optic connection, data is transmitted via pulses of light. They can transmit greater amounts of data faster, and over greater distances than traditional copper cables. This means even if the kids are gaming in their bedroom and your spouse is streaming online content in the family room, you can still use the Internet without delays.


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This post was written by the Beacon team.

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