By Femi Oshiga, vice president of service providers for MEA, CommScope
If you are like me, or millions of other office workers around the world, you are finding yourself working at home these days. The result of this massive work from home movement is the broadband traffic that would have previously taken place in the office or on cellular networks and has now been moved to networks serving residential users, thus straining these networks.
Network infrastructure and service providers have done a great job of adapting to this “new normal.” They have adjusted and optimized their operations so they can deliver to people working from home the broadband connectivity they need to receive and send emails, download files, videoconference, and use a variety of Software as a Service (SaaS) applications while other members of their family e-learn, stream videos or play online games. Even with the optimization, many people working from home are experiencing some difficulties with their broadband connectivity – whether it’s due to a surge in residential traffic in their neighborhood during the day straining the core network (like VPN access), their kids and others in the family all being online at the same time peaking the access network, or because their old WiFi access point is due for an upgrade.
CommScope has been helping service providers deliver their residential customers the broadband services they need to work from home, all while, for the most part, working from home ourselves. Based on our experiences, here are some tips that might help you get the connectivity you need to get your work done during the current crisis.
Upgrade your wireless router
If you and your family have good performance in part of the house, but not in the rest, the first place to look to fix these problems might be your WiFi router. New WiFi 6 routers use mesh networking technology to provide more than 5,000 square feet of wireless coverage, enabling you to get a strong connection whether you are working in your home office, your kitchen or even your walk-in closet (for that important, can’t be interrupted videoconference). Some of these new routers have a third band, a dedicated 4x4 WiFi 6 transceiver that can be used for dedicated backhaul. This will get fast service speeds even if multiple family members are connected.
Schedule online meetings five to ten minutes after the hour or half hour
Even a great WiFi 6 access point will not improve your connectivity if there is server congestion caused by too many people trying to do the same thing at the same time.
One way to address this issue is to “time-shift” the beginning of meetings to account for this server onrush. Scheduling meetings that start at some other interval, 5 or 10 minutes after the hour will improve the situation.
One other thing to keep in mind that helps is to reduce the resolution of video on a call or go audio only if you are observing the meeting and don’t need to have a video presence.
Schedule large downloads for late at night
Even with everyone working, e-learning, or entertaining themselves by streaming from home these days, people still sleep. If you have a very large file you need to download, try to schedule it for late at night – between midnight and 5:00 am. Even if the kids next door are still playing the latest video game at this time, chances are you will have better connectivity than you would during the day. Moreover, you won’t care if it slows down as long as it is done by the time you get up.
Contacting your service provider
If the problems are not in your home and not in the core of the network and you have already tried to move non-time sensitive downloads to other times, you can always contact the service provider to see if you can increase the peak speeds available to your home. While you might pay a bit more, in this time of critical need the extra cost may be worthwhile.
Even with great connectivity, transitioning to working from home every day can be tough. If you are having problems with connectivity, this challenge only becomes that much harder. By following the tips above, you can help address many common connectivity issues, and make the most of what is a difficult situation.