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

An 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. In this new age of working from home, a reliable internet connection is just as important as keeping the lights on.

Unfortunately, connection issues can result from inconsistent speeds or an out-of-date router. Your connection woes may even arise from a much bigger problem happening on your service provider’s end.

To help you solve these issues, we put together a list of symptoms, diagnoses, and solutions. 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. Enter your zip code below to see what options you have in your area.

Your internet speed is too slow

Your connection can drop in speed if you have too many devices using too much bandwidth simultaneously. This problem is especially likely when you live with multiple people. Wireless devices can even disconnect from Wi-Fi.

For example, Zoom meetings on a 15–25 Mbps wireless connection may get choppy or disconnect altogether as others stream high-definition movies and play games online using the same network.

How do you fix it?

Run a speed test using a wired device to see if you’re getting close to your plan’s advertised speeds. Rerun the test using a wireless device.

If both tests show the correct speeds based on your plan, then take a look at our How Much Internet Speed Do I Need? tool to see if your plan matches your needs. If it doesn’t, call your internet provider to order a faster internet package. 

You could always switch providers for better service too. Enter your zip code 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.

A modem is a required component in your internet connection, as it translates your internet provider’s signals into data your devices can use. Sometimes issues arise that are out of your control—like problems in the neighborhood—that cause your modem to disconnect. Other issues may reside on your end that you can troubleshoot.

 

How do you fix it?

Check the modem’s connection to your ISP’s entry point. You may see a cable connecting your modem to a wall outlet or a cable protruding from a hole and ending at your modem.

If everything checks out, contact your ISP to see if the modem receives and transmits a signal correctly. If not, customer service can troubleshoot the modem remotely and send a technician if needed.

Pro tip:

If you want gigabit speeds on a cable connection, you’ll need a modem that meets DOCSIS 3.0 standards or newer—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 wireless router is a common culprit for connection issues. If you just bought the new iPhone 12—which supports Wi-Fi 6—it won’t see fast Wi-Fi 6 speeds if you connect the phone to a slower Wi-Fi 4 router. Even a router that’s just a couple of years old may be behind the curve.

Wi-Fi 6—also known as 802.11ax or Wireless AX—is the latest of six internet protocols maintained by the 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 do you fix it?

Get a Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi 6 router.

Before you invest, take time to research different router options and read reviews. Make sure the router you choose is compatible with Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi 6. You don’t necessarily need to purchase a router online, but it’s great to know what you’re buying before marching into Best Buy.

If you’re curious, 802.11 is a standard for wireless networks (WLAN). Letters typically follow the last digit, like 802.11n and 802.11ac, describing the generation and used frequencies. The Wi-Fi Alliance made these numbers more consumer-friendly using labels like Wireless-N and Wireless-AC. However, the Wi-Fi Alliance changed its naming system in 2019 for even more simplified labels like Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6.

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 faulty

Your internet will keep disconnecting if you have old or damaged cables. 

No matter what type of internet you have, you’ll need one of three different cables to plug your modem or wireless gateway into your internet connection. You’ll also need another cable to connect a standalone router to a standalone modem.

There are three common types of cables for most home internet connections:

  • Coaxial cable — Connects a modem or wireless gateway to the cable network entering your home.
  • Phone cable Connects a modem or wireless gateway to a telephone line entering your home.
  • Ethernet cable Connects a standalone modem to a standalone router. Ethernet cables also connect computers, game consoles, set-top-boxes, and more to a router or wireless gateway.

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

How do you fix it?

Make sure all cables are connected and securely in place. Swap them out for newer cables if you can—they can be relatively cheap on Amazon.

Pro tip:

Looking for a good Ethernet cable? We list the five best Ethernet cables supporting fast speeds and outside use.

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 issuesHardware failures in the neighborhood
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 may keep going out for several reasons:  your ISP has poor network coverage, it has a weak infrastructure, or it has technical issues it needs to address.

There are all sorts of technical problems on the ISP’s end that can make your internet 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 do you fix it?

Call your ISP and report the issue. If your problems persist, switch providers to get better service. Enter your zip code below to see other options in your area:

More about disconnection problems

If 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 cables filled with glass fibers, vastly reducing the chance of external 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.” Fiber cables become exposed at street level because installers bury them too shallow.2

How do you fix it?

Call your ISP if the internet goes out. The provider will get it back up and running—even after someone cut the service line.

Disconnection problems with cable internet

Cable internet relies on area-wide infrastructure, meaning speeds can drop during peak usage hours—usually between 7 p.m. and midnight. You may notice a slower connection when more of your neighbors hop on the internet at the same time, especially if you live in a densely populated area. 

You also may experience random disconnections if the ISP’s cable isn’t properly connected to your modem, if roots damage the cable running into your house, if you nipped the cable while using a weedeater, and so on.

How do you fix it?

Ensure the cable connector nut is tight against the modem and the cable itself doesn’t jiggle in place. A loose cable will absolutely give you connection problems.

If the cable looks secure, contact your provider. Your connections may need repairs, or your modem may need a replacement. You may require a faster plan if you experience disconnects due to neighborhood network congestion.

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 network congestion impacts your speed.

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.3

How do you fix it?

Call your ISP and see if you can upgrade to cable or fiber (which is also provided by several DSL providers). Fiber is relatively new and scarce, so if it’s not available in your area, upgrade to cable internet instead.

Enter your zip code below to see what’s available in your area:

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?

Get a satellite internet plan that gives you more data to use, especially if you keep hitting your data caps. Also, try downloading videos and other files ahead of time, so you don’t have to stream on bad weather days. 

We recommend cable, fiber, or DSL internet if any of these internet types are available in your area.

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. Nearby buildings or geographical features like hills, trees, and mountains can also impact your connection.

How do you fix it?

Live closer to a cell tower. If that’s not an option, download streamable content ahead of time to avoid potential interruptions. 

To find a more reliable Wi-Fi setup, enter your zip code 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 you or your internet provider need to resolve one or more issues.

For example, your modem may be faulty, your router may be out of date, or you may have too many devices using too much data simultaneously. Cables may be damaged. Network congestion may slow speeds. Some slowdowns are out of your control, while others are easily fixed.

To help keep your internet connection running smoothly, do the following:

  • Make sure your internet plan gives you adequate speeds.
  • Use a router certified for the most recent standards, such as Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi 6.
  • Make sure all cables are secure and undamaged.
  • Make sure your Ethernet cable is CAT 5e or newer.
  • Make sure your router has the latest firmware.

If the problem persists, call your provider and report your issues. You can also consider upgrading your internet plan or switching to a new internet provider that gives you a 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 - Cara Haynes

Cara Haynes has been editing and writing in the digital space for seven years, and she's edited all things internet for HighSpeedInternet.com for five years. She graduated with a BA in English and a minor in editing from Brigham Young University. When she's not editing, she makes tech accessible through her freelance writing for brands like Pluralsight. She believes no one should feel lost in internet land and that a good internet connection significantly extends your life span.

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