We’re all in this together: while American workers and students adjust to and adhere to social distancing guidelines – we are all also crowding the home wi-fi. Virtual togetherness is a good thing for human connection, but it can seriously throttle home connectivity speeds while you are trying to work. The good news is that a handful of simple steps can boost your speed and reduce your frustration.
Step 1) Retire Old Equipment
How old is your equipment – including your modem and router hardware? Wireless capabilities have tripled in the past 5 years. Technology moves quickly, and the old hardware from your cable provider is probably neither hot off of the presses nor top-of-the-line. Purchasing your own equipment will likely save you some monthly cable fees and also speed up your internet access.
Step 2) Location, Location, Location
Where is your wireless router? The ideal location is someplace central in your house, away from metal, concrete, brick and glass. Here’s a fun fact: wi-fi connection spreads out and down, so it’s ideal to place your equipment centrally and at a high point in your home.
Step 3) Bandwidth Bandits
Does the bandwidth of your router support the number of devices using your wi-fi? Can you hold videoconferences while your spouse is watching Netflix and your children are playing Fortnite? Each of these would consume 10-15 Mbps/download and 5 Mbps/upload. While that may not sound like a lot – it adds up. Like heavy traffic on the expressway, heavy traffic on your router will slow your speed. At the very minimum, look for 50 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload.
Step 4) Extend Your Reach
With multiple users in one household, one router may not have enough muscle to power them all. A better option is to add a router extender, which acts as a bridge, boosting the signal power from the router to help it reach the dead wi-fi spots in the house.
The best option for home internet today is “mesh wi-fi.” Mesh wi-fi sounds futuristic and complicated, but it is really just a network of smaller routers that work together to provide strong signal throughout your home. Mesh wi-fi works with your existing modem and internet provider, and it doesn’t require an engineering degree to install. Best of all, you can prioritize your devices, ensuring that your work computer is first in line for the wi-fi signal.
Step 5) Strength in Numbers
What is your bandwidth? Go to speedtest.net and see if it matches the speed your cable contract promises. It’s possible that your wi-fi router is not powerful enough to support the full speed of your internet service, or that you are not receiving what you are paying for.
Sparing some of your focus on these five steps can seriously boost your wi-fi – and may just boost your spirits as well.