My Internet At Home Is Terrible…
It’s impressive how many times I’ve heard this. I was standing in a line the other day, and a couple college guys were talking about how the internet in their home wasn’t good enough to do almost anything. It causes fights, they yell at their family or roommates to get off their phones, or stop watching Netflix so they can play their online game, or vice versa. I chuckle a little bit, because these kids never knew the real struggle of trying to do something through dial up internet, telling someone to get off the home phone so you could get online. This also happened at a time when the fastest internet connection available or affordable was 56kbs, and cellphones weren’t really that popular or affordable.
I digress, going down memory lane doesn’t solve anyone’s issues here, so let’s talk about what’s really going on; your internet isn’t terrible, but your router probably is. Let me explain. You pay your internet provider (Cable, Satellite, Phone Company) for a certain speed. They provide you with a modem or gateway that connects to their network, and provides you with access to the internet. It’s entirely possible that the modem/gateway is bad, maybe the provider is having issues on their side, or a critter of some nature chewed up the lines to your house. These are all things that would cause internet speed issues. You should have this checked and make sure you are getting the speed provided to you that you pay for. This is a critical first step if you think you are having slow internet problems.
However, if everything checks out with your provider, and a direct connection to a computer yields all the right numbers, you’ll hear something you’ve probably heard from technicians on the other end of the phone before; It’s a problem with your router. Some of the modem and routers in one (gateways) the provider sets up for you are not the best solution for your home. Typically it’s a way for the provider to give you a free (and cheap for them) solution in the home and make you happy, maybe they tack a little extra onto your bill every month for “wireless access”. These devices do a nice job for basic internet functions like searching the web, and checking emails. But if you’re doing more, or plan to do more with your internet you’ll need more out of your equipment. The router essentially is just translating all of you devices information, out to the provider internet. But the speed it talks to both is important.
The average life of a router I typically see is 5 years. That’s a long time, Most people get these devices and set them up, then forget they exist entirely, especially if it’s a good router and doesn’t give you issues. It was probably expensive and you weren’t real sure of what you were doing, so now that its done you want to just leave it be. It’s working right? The thing is, that router probably has firmware updates to install from 3 years ago or more. This not only helps with performance and bug fixes, but it also boosts your security. Both are very important to keep you running safely on the internet. Not to mention the devices you are hooking up to it are probably far more capable of greater speeds than what a router like that is providing. You have probably even added devices to your wireless network. So now more devices require access, and your only paying for some much speed, remember?
Getting a new router could solve a lot of your issues in a few ways:
Newer protocols. Even a lot of mid-tier routers are putting out the newer standard Wireless AC. Devices capable of this connection protocol will benefit greatly from the speed of communication between the device and router.
Newer hardware. These devices have gigabit ports for hardwired devices (faster communication) and much faster processors to handle the network traffic load of a network with a lot of devices connected at once. They are very much like smaller computers processing all that information.
Features. Explicit/Implicit beam-forming for wireless devices. These features help boost range and speed to certain devices and airtime fairness allows older devices to have their own little path without bothering the faster ones.
Compatibility. These devices boast a better compatibility with older devices, allowing them to receive the best of the older connection protocols without interfering with the newer devices faster communication.
QoS. Quality of Services. This is a big one and it requires its own section below, but essentially it allows you to decide what devices get priority connections when they want to connect to the internet.
Greater Distance. Coverage is always an issue as we try to envelop our whole home in wireless signal. If coverage is an issue for you, look into a mesh routing system, like the Netgear Orbi.
This last one is something I really want to talk about. A device that has Quality of Service capabilities can transform your home network. It starts by doing a speed test (don’t forget to update this with service changes from your provider) and then gives a list of all devices connected to your router. You then can assign these devices priority. So a network security cam doesn’t need a higher priority than a PS4/XBOX. It’s not about importance but about how much data these devices need coming from and going to the internet. So you can assign everyone’s phone a medium priority, and save a high traffic mutually (community) used device like a TV that needs Netflix or an PS4/XBOX that requires that power for online gaming. This only functions when all these devices are on. It attempts to split your known speed (bandwidth) between all those devices based on priority. This keeps every device happy, talking as quickly as it can or needs to, and ensure everyone has internet they can use. Your pipe to the internet is only as big as you pay for, QoS helps you maximize the amount of the data you get out of that pipeline and gives a bigger volume to devices that require it.
Check in with an e-mail for more information or questions. I’d be happy to help.