Prasanna Ghokale, Chief Technology Officer, ACT Fibernet

Prasanna Ghokale, Chief Technology Officer, ACT Fibernet

The Covid pandemic has been a key driver of digitalisation in India. More and more businesses are moving to online platforms. Internet penetration has doubled in the past five years and currently, almost 50 per cent of the Indian population uses the internet actively. The inc­rease in demand has meant a seeming decline in broadband speeds for many.

Future workplaces will be hybrid for most industries, and most of the population will continue to work from home. Hence, it is critical for people working from home to be aware of the possible ca­u­ses of internet issues, and basic troubleshooting procedures.

We often think that slow broadband speeds and bad connections are due to faulty maintenance and supply by the in­ternet service provider. However, they can also happen due to users not adequately managing their broadband equipment such as the router and the local area network (LAN) cable.

Causes of slow broadband speeds and frequent disconnects

  • Bad Wi-Fi connection: Your service provider is not giving you quality internet service.
  • Router issues: These include outdated firmware, wrong placements, configuration issues and range that has not been set correctly.
  • Wireless interference: Using too many devices simultaneously, or the router being too close to too many other electrical devices.
  • Modem software issues: Continued usage of a modem with outdated software.
  • Cable and hardware problems: Faulty and broken cables are the most common reasons for connection drops and slow broadband speed.

Addressing slow broadband speeds and connectivity issues

People who work remotely must educate themselves on common broadband issues and the ways to manage them. Some critical pointers that will help you troubleshoot, manage and plan your internet usage are:

Troubleshooting modem and router

We use the internet 24×7 and forget to switch off the router and modem. Resetting your router can instantly improve the data speed. Another issue could be outdated router firmware or modem software. Make a schedule to check and update them manually, or even better, put all networking de­vices on auto-update.

Check router placement

We often neglect the importance of router placements. Placing your router close to electrical appliances such as a refrigerator or a microwave can significantly hamper the network. Try to install the router in free spaces such as hallways so that there are minimum network interruptions.

Replace outdated LAN cables

You may have updated your router and other networking devices, forgetting the importance of LAN cables. Moving to Cat-6 or Cat-6a wires can help you get the optimum net speed.

Use the internet smartly

Using the internet on too many devices simultaneously can congest your home Wi-Fi network. High data usage activity such as downloading heavy files or consuming HD video content must not conflict with your office network usage. Always check for any interfering wireless devices or connections, and optimise the traffic. The 5 GHz band offers a high speed connection, whereas 2.4 GHz is known to provide better range. Depending on the work, use either of the two bandwidths for improved network connectivity.

Revisit network security

If your Wi-Fi network is not secure, there are chances of someone else hacking your network and consuming data. Never share your router password. If you have a common password, change it with a more complex one. Ensure your mobile phones and computers have antivirus software installed. Another approach could be to keep an eye on your network usage. If you notice un­usually high use, phishing apps or antivirus may have encroached on the system. Keep changing your router passwords regularly to avoid any misuse.

Switch off the VPN

Most users rely on virtual private networks (VPNs) to secure themselves from external attacks. However, VPNs can also slow down your broadband speed, especially during high data usage activities such as videoconferencing and heavy file uploads. By disabling VPN, you can increase your broadband speed considerably.

Conclusion

It is essential to understand basic networking, troubleshooting and maintenance procedures. Users should be aware of the minimum speed requirements for videoconferencing apps such as Zoom and Google Ha­ng­­outs, and use them wisely. Your networking devices and software need up­grades to provide optimal performance and secure networks if you work re­mo­tely or plan to work from home. You must under­stand that your internet speed de­pends on various factors other than the plan offered by your broadband service provider.