Our attempts to slow the spread of COVID-19 have more of us working from home than ever – which means there’s more demand on available bandwidth. No wonder some of us are running into problems with the quality of our videoconferences and online meetings.
There are too many variables for us to diagnose your Internet woes remotely with any accuracy. The following are just a few of the factors that might affect you:
- Your Internet Service Provider (ISP). In the Bay Area, you have several to choose from, including Comcast, AT&T, Sonic, Hughes, and more.
- The technology your ISP uses. You might have cable, copper, fiber, satellite, or microwave.
- The particular service plan you subscribe to. Do you have DSL that maxes out at 35 megabits per second (MBPS) downloads and 5 MBPS uploads, a cable plan with 300 MBPS down and 8 MBPS up, or a fiber plan that delivers 500 MPBS both down and up?
- Your service area. Two people can have the same ISP and plan but get different speeds. Or one person may have access to an ISP and plan that isn’t available to someone else just a few blocks away.
- The equipment in your home. The quality of your wireless connection will vary depending on how far away you are from the access point, and a wired connection is often faster and more reliable.
- The number of simultaneous users in your home. If two people are holding separate videoconferences – or one person is trying to videoconference while another is streaming video or playing a real-time game – neither one is likely to have enough bandwidth for a satisfying experience.
Given the above, here are a few general tips for having the best possible online experience while working from home:
- Use a wired connection to the Internet if possible. Yes, that means digging out your old Ethernet cable and attaching your computer directly to your modem – which might mean ordering an adapter online if you have a laptop without an Ethernet jack.
- Choose fiber, cable, or even DSL over satellite and microwave ISP technologies if that’s an option in your area.
- Change ISPs if you have to, and select the plan with the fastest upload speed you can afford.
- Work with your family to develop a daily videoconferencing schedule. Stagger your demands so everyone has enough bandwidth when they need it most.