Internet Bandwidth has become a critical issue with the sudden increase in remote learning and working from home. There are several things that can be done to ensure adequate bandwidth during this time:
1. First, verify your current bandwidth by using online bandwidth tests (we recommend using “speedtest.net” or “fast.com” – both are browser based). This should be done under two scenarios: (A) – while minimal bandwidth is being used (no one is streaming video, music, media and no one is currently in a remote video session) and (B) – while you are connected to your typical daily remote sessions (Discord, Zoom, etc…). Your bandwidth will give TWO numbers – “Download” and “Upload” measured in Mbps – Megabits Per Second. Download will always be much higher than Upload. Ideally you want to have at least 25 Mbps Download and 10-15 Mbps Upload while under normal remote sessions (Discord, Zoom, etc…). Your numbers should be higher when you are not streaming or connecting to a remote session. The higher the numbers the better. Even entry level Comcast is at 25 Mbps down. The next step up is 100 Mbps.
2. Use a “Wired” vs. a “Wireless” connection if at all possible i.e. connect directly to your Modem/Router with an Ethernet (network) cable.
3. Ensure that while you are in a remote session, you minimize/stop all other non-critical school / work related bandwidth use (even on machines other than the one you are using). If you are in a Discord, Zoom, etc…meeting – make sure that no one else in your household is using non-critical bandwidth. Tasks that use bandwidth:
a. Any Video/TV/Media streaming service (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, CBS, Disney+, etc…).
b. Any Music streaming service (Spotify, Pandora, etc…)
c. Any online gaming – PC, Console, Switch
d. Miscellaneous web browsing on media rich sites (YouTube, Social media, etc…)
4. Periodically power cycle your Modem (and Router). You should do this at LEAST once every month (more often doesn’t hurt). Routers/Modems can sometimes have connection issues over time resulting in poor performance or even disconnects. If you have a single device for your Internet connection, you will only have to power cycle one device (i.e. you have a combined modem/router). If you have separate devices:
a. Shut down any computer directly connected to your Router/Modem
b. Unplug power to your Router first (device your computer is directly connected to), then unplug your Modem. Wait 30-60 seconds.
c. Plug your Modem back in first – wait 30 seconds.
d. Plug your Router back in – wait 30 seconds.
e. Turn on your computer. Verify Internet connectivity.
5. If your bandwidth is NOT at the level your ISP (Comcast, CenturyLink, etc…) is indicating you are paying for – you need to contact them ASAP and let them know. The issue could be a simple account change or modem re-provisioning or it could be an issue with the lines coming to your house.
6. If your bandwidth is lower than needed – you can also contact your ISP to ask about a Tier increase. In most cases, especially if you have not changed your plan in a while (year or more) there are very likely much higher bandwidth Tiers that may even be LESS than your paying now. If there are not – just ask them to transfer you to their “Customer Retention” department to talk about getting a new / discounted higher bandwidth package to keep you as a customer.
7. If you are predominantly using wireless, make sure your Modem/Router is not located near a device that could be a source of EMI (Electro Magnetic Interference) that could be interfering with your wireless. You don’t want your modem/router to be near other electrical appliances or near a breaker panel.
8. Make sure your wireless connection is secured with a password. If its unsecured, neighbors or others may potentially be using your bandwidth without your knowledge. It is not uncommon for people to discover unsecured hotspots and post them online for others to use while in the area.
9. If you are in a large household where there are a lot of walls and distance between the wireless router and your device, consider purchasing “Wifi boosters” to increase the signal strength to your devices.
10. Finally – consider going to another provider if your current ISP is not adequate or will not upgrade your tier.
11. Verify that your firewall is not set too restrictive.