IndigoZest’s Nicolai Landschultz recently contributed to an article in The Times, Boost your broadband speed with these tips and tricks. Here we go into a little more detail on how you can get the most out of your wireless network, especially when we’re all spending so much time at home.
How can you boost your broadband speed?
There are a number of different networks and technologies at play that all have an impact on your broadband experience. There’s the actual speed your router connects to the internet at (ranging from around 5Mbps to 500Mbps – typically you would want 25Mbps or better). If you’re at the lower of this range, you are likely to suffer. Limiting the number of devices that talk to the internet at any point in time will help a lot. If you’re at the higher end of this range of speeds, then whilst you have plenty of internet bandwidth, there may be other limiting factors, such as:
- Wi-Fi in your house and/or your neighbour’s Wi-Fi (see below for more information on this).
- The devices you are ultimately communicating with. It is all well and good having a 500Mbps internet connection, but if the server on the internet you are talking to only has a 10Mbps connection or is swamped with connections from thousands of other users, then you are likely to have a bad experience anyway.
In terms of boosting your speeds, there are a few things you can do, such as limiting the number of devices communicating and the distance between your device and your router. See below for more information on this. Another option would be to plug your laptop directly into your router using an Ethernet (RJ45) cable. This may not always be practically possible, but if you can then you are removing your Wi-Fi from the equation of anything that can slow your speed down for that particular device.
How can you fight broadband overload?
The best thing to do is to switch off devices you don’t need. Even devices that you are not using may be consuming broadband speeds. Your voice assistant device (Alexa, Google etc.) will communicate with the internet from time to time, as will CCTV cameras, phones, tablets and other devices. They all call out to the internet on a regular basis and whilst the amount of data they consume may be small, it all adds up – especially if your internet bandwidth is limited!
Will disconnecting mobile phones or smart speakers help increase speeds for video conferencing?
Yes, this can help. For your phones, you could switch off the Wi-Fi so that you can still use your carrier’s data contract. That way you are not cut off completely from using the internet whilst you are on a video conference, for example.
Is it useful being closer to the router – especially in a large house?
Yes. The closer you are to the router (within reason), the better speeds your device can communicate at. This applies whether you live in a 2-bedroom flat or a mansion. Although in a mansion, you may have been lucky enough to have multiple wireless access points (boosters) installed prior to today.
What are the biggest risks of putting your wireless network under stress?
There are no technical risks, as in none of your equipment should break. However, you will of course have all the other risks associated with poor network performance, such as: terrible sound/video quality on audio/video conference calls, spinning circles/pauses when you are streaming movies, bad online gaming experience and so forth.
How can you monitor your speed?
You can get an indication of performance using tools such as speedtest.net but remember every time you run a speed test you are putting a lot of data out over the internet which is not helpful to everyone else, so keep these tests to a minimum and choose your timing wisely. After all, a speed test doesn’t improve anything – it just tells you how great or bad it is. If you’re on a wireless device, remember a speed test indicates the overall performance from your wireless device and across the internet. There are other tools like Fing.com that are great for giving you some idea of what is good or bad about your home network.
How else can you reduce pressure on your wireless network?
If you are going on webinars or conference calls you could try using dial-in audio rather than your PC’s audio. That way you can still see what is going on in the conference, but you are not using your internet for the audio. You may even be lucky that the dial-in number is an 0800 number!
Is it true that your microwave could be affecting your wireless connectivity?
Potentially. This argument is built around the premise that the typical wireless network is running on a frequency of 2.4GHz, which happens to be the same frequency that microwave ovens operate on. So, in theory, if the microwave leaks microwaves whilst it is in use, then this leakage could interfere with your Wi-Fi. Whilst this is true, we would like to think that today’s microwave ovens are built so that the leakage is minimal and thus interferes less! There are other devices in your home that could potentially interfere; Bluetooth also operates on 2.4GHz so is potentially a bigger culprit where interference is concerned. Some baby monitors and cordless phones also operate on 2.4GHz and can cause interference, too. If you are worried about this interference, you could try moving your laptop, mobile phones, and so on to use the newer 5GHz Wi-Fi band instead of 2.4GHz. Of course, this requires that your router as well as your devices support 5GHz and you have the know-how to make this change. It is worth noting, however, that 5GHz has a much shorter range than 2.4GHz so make sure you are reasonably close to your router!