Routers with dual-band functionality are available in Wireless-N (802.11n) and Wireless-AC (802.11ac) category.
Routers with dual-band functionality are available in Wireless-N (802.11n) and Wireless-AC (802.11ac) category.

How to work from home without getting bogged down by a slow WiFi network

  • To get better speeds and avoid the interference caused by existence of multiple devices, it is better to connect all work devices to 5GHz band
  • WiFi range extenders can boost the range by receiving wireless signals from the router and repeating them with powerful amplifiers and antennas

At a time when the entire family is confined to home due to the nationwide lockdown to stem the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), the WiFi network at home is bound to be stressed. Imagine being involved in a work meeting through video conferencing while multiple people are connected to the same network simultaneously trying to stream a movie on Netflix, watch a video class on EDX or download a game on Steam.

Here are some tips to reduce stress on your network and get the best out of it for your work related online activities.

Multiple devices can be a bottleneck

Even though Netflix, YouTube have said they are reducing streaming quality across the world to reduce stress on internet service providers (ISPs), streaming from multiple devices is likely to slow down the bandwidth. Rather than forcing people to watch what they don’t want to, one can reduce the crowding of devices on same wireless frequency band.

Most devices accessing WiFi connect via the 2.4 GHz band, which offers more WiFi coverage. However, most modern-day routers and devices have the option to connect to the 5GHz band which offers faster speed. So, to get better speeds and avoid the interference caused by existence of multiple devices, it is better to connect all work devices to 5GHz band.

Routers with dual-band functionality are available in Wireless-N (802.11n) and Wireless-AC (802.11ac) category.

Position of router and device matters

Position of device and router along with proximity to other electronic devices can interfere with the smooth working of the network. Some of the common source of interference can be Bluetooth devices, power cables, microwave ovens, fluorescent lights and cordless phones. Physical obstacle like walls, floors and ceiling can also affect speed.

Sitting closer to the router can also help. Using range extenders or a mesh router system is a smart move. WiFi range extenders can boost the existing WiFi range by receiving the wireless signals from the router and repeating them with powerful amplifiers and antennas. WiFi mesh includes a network of multiple routers which can bypass physical barriers such as wall, roofs and furniture to deliver consistent Wi-Fi speeds in every nook and corner of the home, allowing users to work online while moving freely.

It’s time to upgrade to WiFi 6 standards

Most of the old routers that still operate on WiFi 4 standard don’t have the capacity to handle overloading caused by multiple devices on a single network. Switching to routers that support the latest WiFi 6 standard, introduced in 2019, can allow every device in the network to achieve peak performance. WiFi 6 routers offer up to four times better speed than WiFi 4. WiFi 6 also has a 50% larger service range of 50% larger than its predecessor. Its multi-user technology Mu-Mimo allows the network to serve up all of the devices simultaneously.

Look for unauthorised access

Another probable reason for slow WiFi network can be unauthorised usage by a neighbour. This can happen in case of insecure wireless access point with an easy to predict password like phone number or family member’s name. Adding a complex password can make it harder for freeloaders to break into the home WiFi network. Users can check who all are connected to network on the router’s web interface.

Allocating resources

Many routers have a feature called Quality of Service, which can allocate resources to more important tasks. So even if a family member is trying to download a game or stream a movie, it will not slow down the entire network. The speed available to it will be limited and the more important tasks related to work will not be deprived of the bandwidth they require to function effectively. New routers have tools like Intelligent Quality of Services which can prioritise traffic automatically.

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