Has being quarantined for the Covid-19 pandemic made you realize just how inadequate your home WiFi network is?  Are there buffering and signal issues when your whole family is online? With so many people working, gaming, browsing, studying, and downloading video from home these days it’s a common problem, but we have the solution!

According to the FCC, 1 megabit per second is acceptable for only very light activities (social media, browsing, email).  If you want to create the opportunity for streaming standard-definition video five megabits per second are necessary, but you still won’t be able to stream high-def and certainly not 4K.

If you’re lucky enough to have a modern wireless router, you may be in better shape.  They’re equipped with advanced features and setting that help mitigate anxiety caused by the entire family logging on to Zoom, uploading files to the cloud and streaming Hulu and YouTube videos. 

Once you’ve chosen the best place in your home for the router to be installed, consider these expert tips for top performance:

Upgrade your Broadband

If you’re going to be working or studying from home for the foreseeable future you may want to consider upgrading your broadband until things return to “normal”.  If your service is lacking increasing your broadband speeds may be the answer to your problems. 

You can use services like Speedtest or DSL Reports’ Speed Test to help you figure out your current broadband speeds.  Once you know your current speeds you’ll be able to determine what tier of service you need to accommodate the additional usage.

Enable Quality of Service

Not all internet traffic is equal.  Dad’s work laptop or having a stutter-free Zoom call is probably more important to you than downloading a big file.  The Quality of Service feature on your router lets you prioritize your most important tasks, so they happen faster than the lower priorities. 

You’ll find the QoS feature in your router’s settings, normally accessible on the device itself or an accompanying mobile app.  The instructions specific to your model should be able to be found on the internet. 

Create Dedicated Networks

QoS is great but you can take it a step further by creating separate, dedicated networks for your most important devices like your work computers. 

Most routers actually support two frequency bands so they allow you to have two separate WiFi networks.  You can put the kids devices and smart home products on the slower 2.4GHz network and the more crucial work computers on the faster 5GHz network to ease the bottleneck. 

Transfer some Devices to Cellular Data

Check with your provider to see if they are offering unlimited cell data usage while so many people are working from home.  If this is the case, you’ll be able to briefly turn off WiFi access for your phones in the device settings so you can shift them over to cellular thereby saving the WiFi for work related tasks. 

Consider going Hardline

No WiFi network in the universe is as dependable and steady as an old-fashioned hardline, Ethernet cable.  Lots of wireless routers still offer the ability to connect desktops, laptops and other devices to an Ethernet cable. 

Note: If you have an Apple MacBook Pro you’ll have to buy a dongle to connect your laptop to an Ethernet port. 

Pick Channels that aren’t Crowded

We all like living in the fast lane when it comes to our WiFi connection.  You can do this by picking a channel (a slice of the WiFi spectrum used by your router), that has less traffic and is free and clear.  If you’re not getting the spped you want, determine if your router is set to automatic channel selection and reboot it.  When you do this your router will automatically look for a free (speedier) channel to connect to.

Additionally, your smartphone has apps that can scan wireless networks nearby and switch you to a speedier option.