Story Date: Monday, April 27, 2020
One of the most common issues in working remotely is slow home internet speed and spotty Wi-Fi connections. If you are experiencing these issues, try these quick fixes to speed up your work:
- Move closer to your router. A simple way to stabilize a spotty wireless connection is to move your laptop closer to your wireless access point or router during high-bandwidth activities such as Zoom.
- Connect to your 5GHz band. If your home WiFi offers a choice of connecting at 5GHz or 2.4 GHz, connect to the 5GHz band. This higher band is less crowded but has a smaller range.
- Limit or schedule non-essential activities. Minimize and/or schedule bandwidth-hogging activities such as Netflix, Spotify, or gaming by family members on your home network while you are working.
- Disconnect from the VPN. Reconsider whether you need to use VPN. For example, you do not need to connect via the VPN to use Pomona College’s web-based applications, such as Office 365, Slack, or Zoom.
- Hardwire your laptop to the router. If your wireless network is still spotty, try connecting your computer directly to your router via a wired Ethernet cable (newer laptops may need an adapter). Note: If you use a Mac, you may need to change your System Preferences to prioritize your wired network.
To prevent or address issues with Zoom:
- Check your connection speed. We recommend checking your connection with Speedtest.net or Fast.com before starting with Zoom web conferencing. To hold a Zoom video conference, you’ll need up to 3 Mbps of download and 3 Mbps of upload. See the Zoom bandwidth requirements.
- Test your audio or video connection. Before a Zoom meeting, test your audio or video connection on the Zoom test site at zoom.us/test.
- Plug in your laptop. If you are connecting from a laptop, plug the laptop into wall power. Battery use can adversely affect video quality.
- Turn off your video. The video portion of services such as Zoom takes up the majority of your bandwidth. If you are experiencing audio or video issues, turn off your Zoom video camera during a call. Sending only audio to meeting participants preserves bandwidth and improves audio quality. You’ll have to ask the host to send you the slide deck, but it’s the more polite and productive option versus surviving through choppy video on your end.
- Dial in. If audio issues persist after you turn off video, turn off your audio and connect to Zoom audio using your cell phone or landline.
Other options to address bandwidth
If your connection problems persist, try one or more of these steps:
- Reboot your router. Reboot your router according to the instructions from your Internet Service Provider (ISP). Note: Your internet router can take up to 10 minutes to fully reboot.
- Update your router’s firmware. Firmware updates often improve speed and can solve common problems with devices. While mesh-networking kits and newer routers often have automatic updates, some routers make you log into their admin page and update the firmware manually. A Google search for your router’s model number should bring up a user manual with more instructions for updating firmware.
- Change your Wi-Fi channel. Change the Wi-Fi channel if the one you are using is too crowded. Check your router or Access Point manual for instructions on how to change the channel. To scan networks for a less congested channel, use a Wi-Fi analysis tool.
- Tether your mobile device. If your home network cannot support your needs, you can resort to using your smartphone’s hot spot feature, which turns the device’s cellular connection into a miniature Wi-Fi network. Cellular networks are designed to handle larger amounts of users, so chances are that your smartphone’s data connection will be faster when your broadband is overwhelmed. Apple and Google offer instructions on their websites on how to turn iPhones and Android phones into hot spots. Note: Tethering costs an additional $10 per month for AT&T or Sprint but is provided as part of the basic package for Verizon and T-Mobile.
Story By: Anna Jacobsen