5 Reasons Why Your Internet Keeps Disconnecting—and How You Can Fix It

A patchy internet connection that randomly drops out of service at any time isn’t just a minor inconvenience—it can be a major impediment to daily life. So we put together an explainer to help you figure out why your internet keeps cutting out and what you can do about it.

The culprit could be anything from slow internet speeds to an out-of-date router to a much bigger problem happening on your service provider’s end. Read on for a list of symptoms, diagnoses, and solutions to an internet connection that keeps disconnecting. Let’s bring that speedy service back to life.

Pro tip:

If you’re flat-out tired of unreliable service, you can always just switch providers. Type in your zip code below to see what options you have in your area.

Your internet speed is too slow

Your internet will keep dropping in and out if your Wi-Fi speeds aren’t fast enough.

This is especially likely when you live with multiple people and everybody’s on the internet at the same time. A connection with just 15–25 Mbps speeds could keep dropping out if you’re busy on Zoom meetings while others are streaming movies and playing games on the same network.

How to fix it

Run a speed test to see how fast your internet is, and then take a look at our How Much Internet Speed Do I Need? tool to see if what you’re getting is fast enough.

If it’s not, call up your internet provider to order a faster Wi-Fi package. Or you could switch providers for better service. Run a search below to see if you can find a more reliable option in your area:

Your modem isn’t connecting with your internet provider

Your internet may randomly disconnect because you have a modem that doesn’t communicate with your internet service provider (ISP) properly.

Modems are crucial to your home network, but they can be finicky. If you buy your own, it has to be approved to work with your ISP in order to deliver an internet connection. Even if it is approved, we’ve found you may still need a helping hand to have it interface properly with the ISP.

How to fix it

The next time your internet disconnects, contact your ISP to see if the modem is receiving and transmitting a signal properly. If it’s not, usually customer service can reconnect it on their end.

 

Pro tip:

If you want gigabit speeds on a cable connection, you’ll need a modem that meets DOCSIS 3.1 standards—otherwise you won’t be able to hit those speeds. Take a look at our gigabit modems guide for the best options.

Your Wi-Fi router is out of date

An old router is another common culprit for internet that keeps going in and out. A router that’s five years old or more will not work well on your current internet connection because it uses out-dated firmware that doesn’t meet the latest Wi-Fi technical standards. Even a router that’s just a couple years old may be behind the curve if it’s not certified for Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi 6, the latest Wi-Fi technical communications standard.

Wi-Fi 6—also known as 802.11ax—is the latest of five internet protocols that have been developed by the standard-bearing Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) over the years. Having a router that uses Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi 6 protocols ensures you’ll get optimum speeds and better performance when multiple people are on your Wi-Fi.

Wi-Fi standards (from newest to oldest)1

  • 11ax (Wi-Fi 6)
  • 11ac (Wi-Fi 5)
  • 11n (Wi-Fi 4)
  • 11g (Wi-Fi 3)
  • 11b (Wi-Fi 2)
  • 11a (Wi-Fi 1)

How to fix it

Get a router that meets Wi-Fi 5—or, if you’re an early adopter to brand-new tech, Wi-Fi 6—capability. To make sure you’re getting the latest and greatest, look on the router’s packaging or look up your router online to see if it meets standards set for “802.11ac” (aka Wi-Fi 5) or “802.11ax” (Wi-Fi 6).

(The “802.11XX” was the previous shorthand used before the far more convenient “Wi-Fi XX” naming standard was introduced along with Wi-Fi 6 in fall 2020.)

Pro tip:

Take a look at our guides to gigabit routers and routers for streaming to get recommendations for the best-quality hardware out today. We recommend Google Nest as the best pick because it’s easy to set up and has excellent range.

Your cables are broken

Your internet will keep disconnecting if you’re using old, unreliable cables to set up your home network.

No matter what type of internet you have, you’ll need a couple different cables to plug your modem into the wall and connect your router with your modem. There are three common types of cables for most home internet connections:

  • Coaxial cable. To connect a modem to the cable network in your home.
  • Phone cable. To connect a modem—or, more commonly, a modem/router combo called a “gateway”—to a DSL internet line.
  • Ethernet cable. To connect your modem to your router if it’s not a combo. And to connect your router to a computer (if you want a direct signal instead of Wi-Fi).

If one of these cables isn’t working right, then your whole network will suffer. Either your internet won’t work at all or it will work very unreliably, leaving you frazzled as the Wi-Fi keeps dropping out.

How to fix it

Take a look at your cabling and make sure it’s all plugged into the right places. Also, test out whether the cables are working by swapping them out for a different one if you have multiples on hand.

Pro tip:

Looking for a good Ethernet cable? We recommend this Cat-6 cable because it’s sturdy and has fast throughput.

Your network is having technical difficulties

Internet connection typeMost common reason for service disconnectHow it happens
FiberISP service outageFiber cabling is disconnected or severed
CableNetwork congestionToo many users online
DSLInterference in telephone linesToo far away from the network hub
SatelliteSpeed "deprioritized"Used all of your data for the month
Fixed wirelessLimited network rangeCell tower too far from your house
5G home internetLimited network rangeCell tower too far from your house
4G LTE home internetLimited network rangeCell tower too far from your house

Your internet will keep going out if your ISP has poor network coverage or weak infrastructure.

There are all sorts of technical problems on the ISP’s end that can make your Wi-Fi randomly disconnect. Depending on the type of internet you have, the cause could be related to network congestion, construction by your house, or even bad weather.

How to fix it

Call your ISP to have them get the internet back up. Or, switch providers to get better service. Use our zip code search tool below to see other options in your area:

In case you need more details, read on to the sections below for a rundown of how these different internet connections work and where they’re most susceptible to disconnections.

Disconnection problems with fiber internet

Fiber-optic internet is by far the most reliable connection you can get. It runs over fiberglass cabling, vastly reducing the chance of congestion or interference. But since fiber is buried under the ground, it could be vulnerable to damage if there’s construction happening on your block.

In past years there have also been problems with “micro-trenching,” in which an ISP buries the fiber cable too shallow so it ends up being exposed to the street.1

How do you fix it?

Call your ISP if the internet goes out. If the service line has been cut, the provider will work to get it back up and running.

Disconnection problems with cable internet

Cable internet relies on area-wide infrastructure, so cable speeds will drop during peak usage hours—usually between the hours of 7 p.m. and midnight. You’ll notice a slower connection or even a full disconnection when more of your neighbors are using the same network, especially if you live in a densely populated area.

How do you fix it?

If your Wi-Fi keeps disconnecting during peak hours, call up your provider and order an internet package with faster speeds.

Pro tip:

Use our speed test to get an idea of what kind of internet speeds you’re getting now. You can take the test multiple times throughout the day to see how your speed is impacted by network congestion.

Disconnection problems with DSL internet

DSL internet runs over copper telephone wiring, which degrades in quality over long distances. So you’ll get slower speeds and unreliable service if you live far away from your ISP’s central network node.

You also may experience random disconnections if you live in an old house with faulty telephone wiring or a corroded telephone socket.2

How do you fix it?

This is one of those situations in which you’ll be better off with a different type of internet connection. It’s not like you can move your house on a flat-bed truck nearer to your provider, and fixing the wiring in your house is no easy feat either.

So just call up your ISP and see if you can upgrade to fiber (which is also provided by several DSL providers). Fiber is relatively rare, so if you can’t do that, consider switching to a new ISP with better service. Wanna see what you can get? Type in your zip code below:

Disconnection problems with satellite internet

Satellite internet is available practically anywhere because it delivers a signal from space. But that immense distance also creates a lot of potential for interference, especially when there’s a lot of wind, snow, or rain.

Plus, satellite internet packages typically come with only a modest portion of data to use each month—and once you go over, your service will be “deprioritized.” That means your speeds will slow to a crawl, and your connection may start dropping in and out.

How do you fix it?

If you can get cable, fiber, or even DSL in your area, sign up for that instead. If you keep hitting your data caps on satellite internet, consider signing up for a plan that gives you more data to work with. Also, try downloading videos and other files ahead of time so you don’t have to stream on bad-weather days.

Disconnection problems with 5G, 4G LTE, and fixed-wireless internet

5G home internet, 4G home internet, and fixed-wireless internet all operate over wireless cellular signals, which requires a nearby cell tower to deliver service. Just like what happens with a cell phone, you can experience disconnects and service interruptions if there’s overcrowding on the network or bad weather conditions. Your connection can also be impacted by nearby buildings or geographical features like hills, trees, and mountains.

How do you fix it?

You’ll get better service if you live closer to a cell tower. You can also download streamable content ahead of time to avoid potential interruptions.

If you need a more reliable Wi-Fi setup, run a search below to see what options are available in your area:

FAQ about why your internet keeps disconnecting

Why does my internet keep cutting out?

Your internet keeps cutting out because your internet speed is too slow, your router is out of date, or you’re experiencing interference on the network.

To keep your internet from going in and out, make sure your Wi-Fi package gives you adequate speeds, and use a router certified for the most recent communications standards (such as Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi 6). If the problem persists, consider upgrading your plan or switching to a new internet provider that gives you more reliable service.

Sources

  1. Black Box Corporation, “Faster. Farther. Better. The Evolution of 802.11,” April 30, 2018. Accessed May 20, 2021.
  2. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, “Google Fiber’s Biggest Failure: ISP Will Turn Service Off in Louisville,” February 8, 2019. Accessed Dec. 1, 2020.
  3. MrTelco.com, “Top 5 Common Phone Line Faults Affecting Landline & ADSL,” August 16, 2015. Accessed Dec. 1, 2020.

Author -

Peter Holslin has more than a decade of experience working as a writer and freelance journalist. He graduated with a BA in liberal arts and journalism from New York City’s The New School University in 2008 and went on to contribute to publications like Rolling Stone, VICE, BuzzFeed, and countless others. At HighSpeedInternet.com, he focuses on covering 5G, nerding out about frequency bands and virtual RAN, and producing reviews on emerging services like 5G home internet. He also writes about internet providers and packages, hotspots, VPNs, and Wi-Fi troubleshooting.

Editor - Aaron Gates

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