Many users complain of slow Internet at homes terming it biggest tech headache in pandemic. Historically, peak Internet hours at home were 6 to 11 pm when most of family members got together but lockdowns have brought everybody at homes day and night. Corona’s new lifestyle has expanded 5 hours per day of Internet peak time to 24×7.
Families stream lot more HD/4K videos to pass the time they’re stuck in homes. Entertainment can turn into torture when buffering or freezing starts at climax. Schools have moved to online classes and kids need good speed on their laptops or phones. Video calls require stable connections at both ends. If connection at far end is freezing, you would get a frustratingly bad video. You would say that no one is using Internet at my home and still I can’t make a good video call. In reality, this isn’t true. When devices are connected with WiFi, many background applications (software upgrades, file transfers, etc.) choke the connection.
On average, 6-7 family members use Internet and more than 10 devices connect to Internet at the same time. Kids in their free time, play Internet games and require lag free gaming experience. You call your ISP, complain about speed and get this frustrating answer “nothing wrong at the backend, everything is fine”.
To diagnose the problem, you can test Internet speed by using free apps like Speedtest, Fast.com, etc. Download the app on your phone, stand near your WiFi router or ONT and run speed test. If speed is as per 90% of your package then it’s not ISP problem. If not, then it’s ISP problem, so contact provider and lodge a complaint. If speed is as per package, then move to a room farther away from router and run test again. If you get slow speed, then it is your router problem.
If your router is more than 3 years old, it’s time to replace it. Like new phones, new routers are much more powerful than old ones. If you open your WiFi setting on phone, you would see many WiFis operating in neighbourhood. New routers have better capability to automatically adjust to channels with least interference.
Users change their smart phones in 2 years and laptops in 3 years’ time. WiFi technology also changes fast. While smart phones and laptops may have latest WiFi and other new features, the home router might still be on old technology, thus giving less speed. A Ferrari can work on normal petrol but you won’t get desired speed till you use high octane.
A home at any point in time spends around Rs. 250,000 on 4-5 smart phones and 2-3 laptops every 3rd year. New dual band 5 Ghz WiFi router would cost ~ Rs. 5,000 and this is a onetime investment, good for 2-3 years. It’s better to ask your ISP to install these routers so that you get better service and support. ISPs usually don’t make money in hardware sales. You can also buy these routers from any computer shop if you think your ISP is selling them at higher price. A small investment will definitely bring more speed to your home Internet. More devices can be connected simultaneously and your tech headache and frustration would be minimised, if not eliminated.
Install the router in a central location of home so that signals cover as many rooms as possible. Router should be out in open, not in a cabinet or under a desk to beam a clear signal. One router is good for 2-3 rooms. If you’ve more rooms, you need to install another router.
Whatever you do, be patient. In these trying times, everything takes longer. Techs working at ISPs are humans. Like medics, they’re working at front lines to make sure new connections are installed, kept working 24 x7 and phone calls and emails answered with minimum wait time. They deserve empathy and respect because they’re keeping you safe and happy within your homes.
The writer is CEO/Co-founder of Nayatel and founding member of ISPAK