Sometimes when you download music or a game, it takes just a few seconds. But other times, especially when you want to stream a really good TV programme, it can take ages and constantly stop and start – very annoying.
To start answering this question, we need to have a better understanding of how the internet works.
Basically the internet is like a web, so imagine a spider web and there’s big houses of data somewhere in the country and those houses of data send data to you through the spider web. To make it faster, you make the spider web larger or you try to make it flow faster through the little strings.
One technological development helping the data to flow faster is fibre optic. Until recently, the main way data was carried around was through copper cables. But now there are fibre networks which send the information by laser light and can reach speeds over 20 times the current average.
If you imagine the internet as a network of roads, a copper cable is like a narrow road whereas fibre networks are like motorways, carrying hundreds more streams at lots of different speeds!
Replacing copper cables with fibre networks might take a while but it won’t be long before fibre networks reach every home and engineers are working to make them even faster.
Here’s something else that is speeding things up. Instead of downloading things from one place, websites are beginning to spread downloads over lots of servers – a bit like at the supermarket when they open up more tills for customers to put their shopping on so you don’t have to queue for a long time.