The internet in homes is now being over-used with most people working from home and their children getting schooled via the internet. If you’ve had a business videoconference stutter while your teenagers play Call of Duty online, or found yourself unable to stream the news while your spouse uploads huge data files for work, you’ll have a good idea of the problem.
According to experts the internet’s core is managing the spike in traffic just fine. It has massive capacity to handle Netflix, YouTube, Zoom and other streaming services. True, Netflix recently throttled down its video quality in Europe at the request of authorities there. But the company already stores its programs on servers close to users’ homes already, and there’s no evidence that it’s clogging networks.
Some people are wondering – if the internet is so sturdy why does my home connection stutter? The problem partly lies in the so-called “last mile,” the link that connects your home to the ultra-high speed internet backbone. Most homes in the United States get their internet from cable companies and thus connect to the broader network via coaxial cable, a legacy of the cable TV era. These connections provide faster “downstream” speeds to your home than “upstream” speeds back to the internet. Since videoconferencing sends equal amounts of data both ways, simultaneous sessions can clog the upstream channel and disrupt service for the entire household.
If this situation is happening to you, one quick solution is to have some family members switch to audio-only, which conserves bandwidth. This also applies to anyone in multiplayer online games, where — per a wag on Twitter — the banter between players often resembles conference calls with occasional shooting.
You might want to consider ordering a service upgrade, although that might not be strictly necessary. Some providers are temporarily offering more bandwidth, particularly for families with school-age children, in response to the current situation. Others have dropped service caps that charge extra when data usage passes a certain threshold. I tested my speed today to see that my provider has almost doubled my speed… and I didn’t even ask.
The relatively few U.S. households with their own direct fiber-optic connections have the same bandwidth in both directions and shouldn’t experience serious hiccups.
Does your home network need an upgrade? It might. Start with your internet modem, the device that most likely has a coax cable connecting it to your wall. Your internet provider often rents the modem to you.
If your modem is several years old, it’s probably time to ask your provider if upgrading the modem’s internal software, or replacing the modem entirely, will help. Also, some older modems often can’t deliver the full bandwidth you’re paying each month for to your household.
Next look at your Wi-Fi router. If you have cable, it may be built into your modem. If you haven’t already, try moving it to a more central location in your home or apartment; that will ensure bandwidth is distributed more equally. Another possibility you can connect some devices directly to the router with ethernet cables instead of using Wi-Fi. This may improve the performance of videoconferencing.
Or you can add more access points and distribute Wi-Fi with a “mesh” network. Newer routers let you add several satellite stations that boost your signal throughout the house, though you might have to arrange that with your provider.
Want to test your internet speed? Click this link, then click “GO”; https://bit.ly/39pYwa0
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