Optimizing your home Internet

Here are some suggestions to make sure you have a good home Internet experience.

Top Tips

  • Regularly reboot your equipment (restarting your modem or router can improve performance and speed).
  • Turn off devices and applications you aren't using.
  • Connect using an Ethernet cable (rather than wireless) to have more bandwidth for better videoconferencing.

Evaluating your performance

We recommend you test your Internet service to make sure you are ready to work, teach or learn from home. You can use the free speedtest.net website on your laptop or SpeedTest iOS/iPadOS/Android app on your mobile devices. This service provides an end-to-end test of all the factors affecting your device’s connection: your Internet provider, your home network setup, and the device you’re on.

For best results, you’ll want at a minimum:

  • 15 megabit per second (Mb/s) or better download speed
  • 5 megabit per second (Mb/s) or better upload speed
  • A ping time of less than 75 milliseconds

Wired or wireless?

Next to the Internet provider you use, the most important factor is how you connect to the network within a house or other location. There are two main choices: Ethernet or wireless.

Wired Ethernet

If possible, directly connecting to the Internet router or access point via a wired (Ethernet) cable will provide the best quality, especially for audio/video applications like Zoom or Microsoft Teams.

  • If you connect via Ethernet, you don’t need to worry about wireless quality.

Wireless

If you use a wireless connection, the quality of your connection will significantly impact your overall Internet quality.

  • Avoid having two or more walls or one floor between your computer and your home’s Internet router/access point.
  • Houses larger than 1,500 square feet or so (depending on layout and building materials) will usually need multiple wireless access points for good house-wide coverage.
  • If you’re using the wireless access point that came with your Internet connection, note that these often have average to poor coverage and can often not be managed or adjusted in any way.
  • Consider installing a newer wireless access point, or wireless mesh networks that cover your home with multiple access points. Wirecutter from the New York Times regularly tests and recommends WiFi access points and mesh hardware.
  • Wireless signals are transmitted at two different frequency modes: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. 2.4 GHz is an older technology; it’s more prone to interference and runs at slower speeds. 2.4Ghz, however, travels better through walls and floors than 5Ghz, so in larger homes, it may offer better connection rates.
  • Remember that wireless is a shared-access medium, and the total number of connected devices will affect performance. Consider disabling unused or non-workplace devices during working hours.
    • Keep in mind that there are a large number of devices that might be using your wireless network, including:
      • Smart phones
      • Tablets
      • Smart TVs
      • Smart Speakers
      • Watches (Apple Watch, FitBit)
      • Streaming Devices
      • Game Consoles (Playstation, Xbox, Switch)
      • Appliances
      • And more.
  • For best results, and assuming adequate signal strength, make sure your computer is using 5 GHz wireless; then, disable (or rate-limit) 2.4 GHz on your router and update other devices on your network to use only 5 GHz.
  • If you have more questions about home wi-fi setup, see this guide from ArsTechnica.

Understanding your Internet connectivity

You may need to consider your Internet service provider as well. Depending on your city and neighborhood, not all of these options will be available to you.

  • Fiber-optic providers (such as CenturyLink or US Internet, Google Fiber, Verizon, AT&T, Jaguar Communications Fiber, etc.) generally offer the highest quality connection and will work well for remote work.
  • Cable TV providers (such as Xfinity or Spectrum) may, especially in smaller communities, use a neighborhood feed, which means that the overall bandwidth available to an area may be capped, and you might be sharing with your neighbors. So available connections might be limited depending on the density of users in your area, and you might not be able to reach your advertised speeds during periods of heavy use, though they still may work well enough.
  • DSL service is a generally lower-quality service but is the best choice for some rural neighborhoods and homes.
  • cellular hotspot may work, depending on the strength of the cellular coverage in your area, but often restricts how much bandwidth you can consume.
  • Satellite broadband (HughesNet, etc.) and dial-up internet options won’t work well for access to Bowdoin resources.

Additionally, typical home connections are asymmetrical, with upload speeds being a fraction (usually around ⅓) of download speeds. If you work with large files, it may take longer to upload them than you would expect from your time working on Bowdoin’s network.

Suggestions if you’re having problems

  • Make sure you have a local password for your home router.
  • Most Internet providers have tools that allow you to troubleshoot connections issues, so that you can see who all is on your network.

If you have additional questions, contact the Service Desk. We will not be able to troubleshoot home Internet service issues, but may be able to offer advice.

Details

Article ID: 121039
Created
Tue 11/24/20 10:04 AM
Modified
Tue 11/24/20 10:08 AM