What Can You Do About Slow Mobile Internet?


Web pages won't load? Ads meaning that your mobile gaming lags? A slow mobile internet connection can be extremely frustrating, particularly when you're paying a hefty monthly bill for the service. Of course, occasionally we all get slow data, but if this is a recurring problem, then what exactly can be done? We're taking a look at solutions to slow mobile internet, so if you're thinking about throwing your phone out of the window, read this first!

The Simple Stuff

Alrighty, before we start thinking about replacing phones or calling service providers, there are a couple of simple things that we should be looking at first. Your very first step is to switch your phone off and then back on again, just in case. If you're having recurring problems this is unlikely to fix them, but it's always worth a try. Done? Okay, then let's try a different browser. If you're using the stock internet browser on your phone then head to your app store and download an alternative (Chrome, Firefox, Safari…). If you're already using an alternative, then trash it and download another version.

We know, this is basic stuff, but it's best to cover all bases, so there's just a couple more things. Firstly, are you on WiFi? It could be that your phone is switching to a slower WiFi connection by default (most modern smartphones switch to WiFi at any opportunity to save you money), so switch off the WiFi altogether. While you're at it, switch off Bluetooth too.

If none of the above have worked the problem could still lie within your phone. If your phone's memory is too full it will slow down all services, including your internet. Check this out by heading to your settings menu, then to storage or memory (depending on the model of your phone) to see how much free space is left. You want around 1 GB of free memory on most smartphones to allow for good speeds. If you don't have this, try cleaning out your phone, sending pics to the cloud, or deleting apps that you're not using. Still no luck? Then we need to move on to more serious solutions…

Service/Phone Problems…

We need to divide this part into two somewhat related sections, 4G and 3G internet problems. If you're paying for 4G but aren't getting the speeds that you'd expect then you need to do two things. Firstly, check to make sure that your phone is compatible with 4G (easily done by Googling your phone make and model). If it's not, then the only way you're going to get those super fast speeds is by replacing your phone with one that does have 4G. Secondly, check to make sure that your operator has a 4G network in your area (again, easily done by heading to your operator's web page and looking for their coverage map). Whilst most UK operators do now offer 4G many of them don't have complete coverage, so there's a good chance that you're simply living outside of their coverage area. Again, not a lot you can do (though you could move), but if you're paying more for 4G and don't receive coverage at your home then try calling customer service to get downgraded to a cheaper, 3G plan at the very least.

All smart phones are 3G compatible, so this shouldn't be an issue. If you've got an older non-smartphone then there's a small chance it doesn't have 3G though. As for coverage, again it's unlikely that this is your problem as most UK operators have around 90% UK coverage for 3G. It is worth checking though, especially if you live in an isolated area…

Problems, Diagnostics, and Solutions…

Okay, let's get practical here. You can quite easily diagnose most problems yourself with a little ingenuity. At this point you should have already tried switching off and on, using a different web browser, and checking your operator's coverage. But what else can you do?

Our first test is to grab a few friends who use different operators and switch around SIM cards. If you find that another operator is giving you the speeds you want then the problem lies with your mobile service provider. The obvious solution here is to switch operators, though this can get pricey if you've only just begun a contract it might be worth it for better service.

Next, try taking a trip. No, seriously, go somewhere with your phone. You don't need to go too far, but experiment a little, say ten miles from home, twenty, thirty. Do your internet speeds change? If so the problem is probably your location. If this is the case (and you found no other operators that give you better reception), then call up your operator and tell them. Many operators offer solutions to this in the form of extenders that can help improve reception (and usually for free too!).

If you're still suffering from problems then the source is almost certainly your phone. If your phone is new and a good model then by all means cash in on that warranty and get the manufacturer to check it out. If your mobile is an older model, more than, say, five years, then your best bet is going to be investing in a new one. Smartphones don't have to cost a bomb, and you can pick a decent model up for around £150.

There is a compromise here though. You can, in a pinch, speed up your internet by using specific niche browsers that are designed to use less memory and to require slower data speeds. Opera or Opera Mini are small files that use up less memory and compress pictures and video so you need less data, for example, or APUS which allows you to eliminate pictures loading altogether, or Puffin Browser which sends web pages through their own servers to increase speeds. You can experiment with these to see if you can get decent web services without needing to buy a new mobile…

Mobile data is awesome, and most of us use it daily. But when those speeds slow down it can be very frustrating. Hopefully though, your problem is now solved!

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