A media watchdog in the UK has provided advice on how to optimise your Internet connection while working from home during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Several major companies that rely on the Internet to deliver their services – including Microsoft, Facebook, and Netflix – have taken measures to ensure that they meet the increased demand as more people work remotely and spend additional time on the Internet.
Ofcom published tips which focused on reducing strain on mobile networks and optimising the physical layout of your Internet connection to ensure your connection is reliable.
Use a landline or Wi-Fi calls
As more people make calls with their cellular phones, mobile networks can become congested. You can circumvent this by using a landline to make phone calls, Ofcom explained.
If you only have a mobile phone available, rather enable Wi-Fi calling or use WhatsApp calls to keep your phone calls off the mobile network.
Additionally, users can make voice calls over the Internet via apps like Skype or Facetime.
Keep your router clear of other devices
It is advisable to place your router in a spot where other devices cannot interfere with the electromagnetic radio waves it uses to keep your devices connected.
Devices that could disrupt or weaken your connectivity include stereos, computer speakers, monitors, TVs, cordless phones, halogen lamps, dimmer switches, and baby monitors.
Notably, Ofcom recommended to not turn on your microwave while you are making calls or streaming video as these use waves operating on the same 2.4GHz frequency that most routers use.
Lower demand on your connection
The watchdog noted a number of ways in which users can lower the demand placed on their connections.
Tablets or smartphones may continue to use your connection in the background which could lower your connection speed. Minimise the number of devices connected to your broadband connection by turning Wi-Fi off on devices that are not in use.
It also recommended using only audio when making calls for meetings, as video consumes more data and takes up more of your line’s capacity.
Downloading video content beforehand is a better option than streaming while the connection is required for work or making calls.
Netflix is one major streaming service which allows users to do this. Instructions for this feature can be found here.
Wired over wireless
Running an Ethernet cable directly from your router to your computer, rather than using a wireless connection, should provide a faster and more reliable connection, Ofcom said.
This will reduce latency, which can improve online gaming and real-time communication experiences.
Using a short, high-quality cable between your router and Optical Network Terminal (ONT) will ensure faster connectivity.
Additionally, Ofcom advised Internet users to test their speeds by using a reliable speed test platform. Ideally, this should be done at different times over a number of days to establish an accurate average figure.
South Africans can use MyBroadband’s Speed Test platform to do this.
Lastly, users should consult their Internet Service Provider if they are having any issues with their connection or if it is performing under its promised speeds. ISPs typically offer guidance or solutions to certain problems on their websites.
ISP customers must be aware that certain providers could have reduced working staff during the coronavirus crisis. Response times to customer queries may be delayed.