For most people, diagnosing a dodgy internet affiliation is nigh on impossible. After all, the internet is a circuitous collection of accouterments and software, and the odd jumpy Zoom call is often accustomed as an baffling affection of a arrangement we don’t well understand.

But internet affiliation issues are absolutely quite easy to explain. They arise when the flow of data along internet cables is interrupted, most frequently when the demand to use the cables is very high. That’s why your affiliation seems worst during “peak TV viewing” hours, when everyone’s trying to stream videos using the same cables at the same time.

And while modern fiber-optic cables lead to faster internet speeds, it’s likely that we’ll always acquaintance frustratingly slow internet from time to time. It’s a byproduct of a arrangement that’s built to be adjustable – and the finite load of the cables that abutment it.

The concrete network

The internet is a arrangement of cables that send agenda data across vast distances at close to the speed of light. Between countries and continents, the internet is broadcast via a vast series of undersea cables. Within countries, abate cables run underground until they eventually branch into each of our homes.

In the UK, BT and Virgin Media are the major cable basement providers. It’s they who physically plug the internet into UK homes, and they’re also amenable for laying and afterlight the underground cables that carry your data around the country or to the undersea cables to go added afield.

Some homes have “fiber to the premises” (FTTP) connections, abutting homes anon to fiber optic cables which can carry agenda data abundantly quickly. But most UK homes have “fiber to the cabinet” (FTTC) connections, which are a little slower.

These bear a accelerated fiber optic affiliation to local internet cabinets, from where slower copper wires run the “final mile” to surrounding homes. Copper can only carry analog signals, so agenda data has to be always adapted to analog in homes that are affiliated to the internet via copper wires.