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I have a nominal 768 Kbps download connection, and various speed-test sites say that I have ~400 Kbps in practice, which would be fine. The Windows Wifi quality indicator also shows "very good."

But this internet service is unusable. The connection is superslow. The loading of web-pages hangs half-way, and the downloading of files can hang at any point: The browser says the download is ongoing, yet progress stops.

The problem occurs on more than one computer, so the problem is not in the clients.

The router is SpeedStream 4100. The connections are all wireless.

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Do you experience the same symptoms when you are connected directly to the router via Ethernet? If the symptoms go away, I'd guess wireless interference. –  goblinbox Jul 16 '11 at 0:03

2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

There are so many reasons why this can happen it is hard to know where to start.

Was your system working previously and if so, do you know anything that has changed?

Some of the many reasons are

Faulty router.
Interference from another Wireless router.
Too much noise on the telephone line (from within your house)
Problem with the telephone line (outside you).
Problem with your internet provider. 
Bandwidth being used up. 
Problems caused by virus.

Suggestions (not in any particular order)

Switch off the router for a while (Maybe even overnight).
If possible, try connecting via a cable rather than wirelessly.
Ask your ISP to investigate your line quality. 
Temporarily disconnect all other equipment from your telephone line.
Connect your modem to the master telephone socket.
Move your router away from another other electrical cables/equipment
Scan for virus/spyware
Your wireless router should have an option to change channels which 
     can help avoid interference from other people's equipment.
Try a different browser.
If you have access to a good internet connection, download and burn a
   Linux LiveCD which you can boot off.
Try another router.
Check your wireless security to make sure no-one is hijacking your line.
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Thank you. I tried some of those -- different browser, Linux computer , anti-virus, secured WiFi. I'll try turning the router off for a while or fiddling with it a bit. I'm not optimistic, though -- the situation is too strange, with bandwidth tests showing good speed, and many sites coming up rapidly, but any long HTTP request slowing to a crawl. –  Joshua Fox Jul 15 '11 at 19:30
    
After a simple hard reboot of the router, the problem no longer exists. Whether there is a causal relationship is hard to tell, but that was probably the fix. –  Joshua Fox Jul 17 '11 at 13:52
    
Seem to have solved the problem by installing a new router (a low-end Belkin model). –  Joshua Fox Jul 24 '11 at 3:36

This could be a QoS (Quality of Service) issue: either the router or your provider has decided that the long request should be given lower priority. If you've tweaked router settings, check to see that you didn't mess up anything. If this doesn't work, I'd suggest contacting your provider.

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Good suggestion. The web access was so awful that it seems that this is not the explanation, but it is worth keeping in mind. –  Joshua Fox Jul 17 '11 at 13:51

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