Getting fast, reliable Wi-Fi in our home networks is essential. We connect more devices than ever to Wi-Fi, including smart phones, tablets, laptops and a growing list of smart devices. And we use them 24/7 for everything from video streaming and social media sharing to home automation and monitoring.
But sometimes it seems like we’re not getting the speeds we should be, such as when it seems to take forever to upload our holiday photos to a photo sharing site, or when Netflix freezes just when we’re getting to the best part of the movie. And while it’s possible that there’s something wrong with your Wi-Fi setup or your Internet connection, there are other factors you should consider first before calling your service provider’s Help Desk.
How much speed do I need?
The first thing to understand about Internet speeds is that certain minimum speeds are needed to enjoy different types of online activities. Video streaming is the best example of this. The better the video quality, the faster your Internet speed needs to be to enjoy it.
Streaming companies typically publish minimum speeds for the different levels of video quality: standard definition (SD), high definition (HD) and ultra high-definition/4K. Netflix provides its customers with these recommendations (1):
720 - 1080p
Other streaming companies, such as Hulu, make similar recommendations (2). Keep in mind that these are minimum values, which means that even a slightly faster Internet package than the one recommended by your streaming service would likely give you better video performance.
(1) Netflix, “Internet Connection Speed Recommendations”
(2) Hulu, “Internet Speed Recommendations”
So, before you call your service provider Help Desk to complain that there’s a problem with your Internet service, you need to do two things. First, make sure you’ve purchased an Internet package that’s fast enough to meet your needs for streaming services and when using multiple connected devices at the same time. And second, check to make sure that the device you’re using to connect to the Internet is capable of supporting the speeds being provided by your ISP.
Is your device slowing things down?
The device you’re using to connect to the Internet could be limiting your speed. Apple and Android-based smart phones and tablets have maximum Wi-Fi speeds that they are capable of supporting. If you connect using a smart phone that’s more than three years old, you may not get an accurate picture of the download and upload speeds you’re getting in your home.
There are way too many devices to provide a comprehensive list here, but the first thing you should do is determine which Wi-Fi standard your device supports. If it’s three or more years old, it likely supports the 802.11b, 802.11a/g, or 802.11n standard. If it’s a new device, it likely supports the 802.11ac or 802.11ax (also known as ‘Wi-Fi 6’) standard.
What could be slowing down my internet speed?
1. Hardware. The internet connection speed depends mainly on all the network equipment you are using; such as cable or router. For instance, an Ethernet internet connection is considered quicker than a Wi-Fi connection. Suppose you are using a Wi-Fi internet connection; your internet connection speed can decrease as more and more devices are connected to the same network. Besides, the internet connectivity may be slowed down by the hardware of a computer; for example, suppose you have a weak processor. 2. The number of users. Internet connectivity speed tends to slow down when the number of people trying to connect to the Internet increases simultaneously. This happens during peak activity hours, such as during the night when everyone is home and tries to browse using Wi-Fi. This also applies to the situations where you connect Wi-Fi in crowded public areas where numerous people are using my network. 3. The software. If you are running various apps that require you to connect to the Internet simultaneously, the speed will naturally go slow. Some apps might run in the background without notice. Ensure that you check for auto-sync, auto-update or any backup settings such as file sharing apps that you use. You need to ensure that you keep only the essential add-ons and the toolbar in your web browser, which can take up a share of the bandwidth you’re using. 4. Using wireless. Wireless connections can often result in slow internet connection speeds. Physical distractions like metal roofs and the concrete walls can slow down the wireless network speed as you increase the distance between you and the router; the further you go away, the weaker the signal. Depending on the speed you’re getting from the wireless internet connection, it might be worth connecting to your router through a wired connection instead. This will increase the internet connection speed by cutting down the signal interference. You may also need to change the router channel. 5. Your plan. Your plan speed you select from Internet Service Provider is one of the significant factors that affect the overall internet speed. Note that when choosing an internet plan, ensure that you select a plan capable of reaching your desired speed. 6. Router location. One of the crucial choices that can make a difference is the router location. Ensure that you consider the geographical distance between the gadget and the router, its height from the ground, and its proximity to dense materials such as metal and concrete walls that can block signals. If this is the cause for slow wireless speeds, we offer mesh solutions to help wireless coverage in homes.