For most individuals, diagnosing a dodgy web connection is nigh on unimaginable. In any case, the web is a fancy hodgepodge of {hardware} and software program, and the odd jumpy Zoom name is commonly accepted as an inexplicable characteristic of a community we don’t properly perceive.

However web connection points are literally fairly straightforward to clarify. They come up when the move of knowledge alongside web cables is interrupted, most continuously when the demand to make use of the cables may be very excessive. That’s why your connection appears worst throughout “peak TV viewing” hours, when everybody’s attempting to stream movies utilizing the identical cables on the similar time.

And whereas fashionable fiber-optic cables result in sooner web speeds, it’s seemingly that we’ll all the time expertise frustratingly gradual web on occasion. It’s a byproduct of a community that’s constructed to be versatile – and the finite load of the cables that assist it.

The bodily community

The web is a community of cables that ship digital knowledge throughout huge distances at near the pace of sunshine. Between nations and continents, the web is distributed by way of a huge collection of undersea cables. Inside nations, smaller cables run underground till they ultimately department into every of our houses.

Within the UK, BT and Virgin Media are the key cable infrastructure suppliers. It’s they who bodily plug the web into UK houses, they usually’re additionally liable for laying and updating the underground cables that carry your knowledge across the nation or to the undersea cables to go additional afield.

Some houses have “fiber to the premises” (FTTP) connections, connecting houses on to fiber optic cables which may carry digital knowledge extremely rapidly. However most UK houses have “fiber to the cupboard” (FTTC) connections, that are a bit of slower.

These ship a high-speed fiber optic connection to native web cupboards, from the place slower copper wires run the “ultimate mile” to surrounding houses. Copper can solely carry analog alerts, so digital knowledge needs to be regularly transformed to analog in houses which might be linked to the web by way of copper wires.

A green internet cabinet on a grassy verge next to a pavement.