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tech

Home internet jammed up? Try these steps before upgrading

14 Comments
By FRANK BAJAK

With so much of the U.S. workforce – and their families – now cooped up at home to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, it's not a huge surprise that home internet is showing the strain.

If you've had a business videoconference stutter while your teenagers play Call of Duty online, or found yourself unable to stream the news while your spouse uploads huge data files for work, you'll have a good idea of the problem.

IS THERE A BANDWIDTH PROBLEM?

The internet’s core is managing the spike in traffic just fine, experts say. It has massive capacity to handle Netflix, YouTube, Zoom and other streaming services.

True, Netflix has just throttled down its video quality in Europe at the request of authorities there. But the company already stores its programs on servers close to users' homes already, and there's no evidence that it's clogging networks.

IF THE INTERNET IS SO STURDY, WHY DOES MY HOME CONNECTION STUTTER?

The problem partly lies in the so-called “last mile,” the link that connects your home to the ultra-high speed internet backbone.

Most U.S. homes get their internet from cable companies and thus connect to the broader network via coaxial cable, a legacy of the cable TV era. These connections provide faster “downstream” speeds to your home than “upstream” speeds back to the internet. Since videoconferencing sends equal amounts of data both ways, simultaneous sessions can clog the upstream channel and disrupt service for the entire household.

If that happens, one quick solution is to have some family members switch to audio-only, which conserves bandwidth. This also applies to anyone in multiplayer online games, where — per a wag on Twitter — the banter between players often resembles conference calls with occasional shooting.

You could also order a service upgrade, although that might not be strictly necessary. Some providers are temporarily offering more bandwidth, particularly for families with school-age children, in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Others have dropped service caps that charge extra when data usage passes a certain threshold.

The relatively few U.S. households with their own direct fiber-optic connections have the same bandwidth in both directions and shouldn't experience serious hiccups.

DOES MY HOME NETWORK NEED AN UPGRADE?

It might. Start with your internet modem, the device that most likely has a coax cable connecting it to your wall. Your internet provider often rents the modem to you.

If it's several years old, it's probably time to ask your provider if upgrading the modem's internal software, or replacing the modem entirely, will help. Older modems often can't deliver the full bandwidth you're paying for to your household.

Next up is your Wi-Fi router. If you have cable, it may be built into your modem. If you haven't already, try moving it to a more central location in your home or apartment; that will ensure bandwidth is distributed more equally.

Or you can add more access points and distribute Wi-Fi with a “mesh” network. Newer routers let you add several satellite stations that boost your signal throughout the house, though you might have to arrange that with your provider.

One more possibility: You can connect some devices directly to the router with ethernet cables instead of using Wi-Fi. This may improve the performance of videoconferencing.

© Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

14 Comments
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Very informative. Thank you very much.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I don't think there is any internet speed problem in Japan. I have a 1GBps service. Not that I never get 1GB but I do get like this minute, 264Mbps down and 456Mbps up. I'm happy with anything over 100Mbps. I have good Wifi all over the house and even in the garden. Test on my iPhone for Wifi is 142 Mbps down and 251 Mbps up.

I also use a Wifi link booster which plugs into the socket on the wall for the second floor.

I think the fiber optic cable which comes right into my router is better than the cable company connection with coax. Fiber optic cable all the way baby.

Rebooting your computer can help. Also reboot your router.

Clean up your computer with reliable apps. There are many bad ones and even some dangerous one which just take over your computer. On my macs I use a free app call Maintenance, from a French guy or Onyx. On Windows I their apps to clean it.

Upgrade the RAM on your computer.

If your rental router is older than five years ask for a new one.

There are no data caps in Japan for downloading but there is for uploading which is 30GB to prevent torrents. Go over and you will get a nasty warning letter. I know.

Maybe time for a new pc. What else are you going to do when our governments start giving us cash to spend.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

It also will help to clean out all the dust that gets built up in the venting ports and fans. The cooler the temperature the better the computer will run. Especially when gaming.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@Zichi If you are having issues with a legal torrent :-) get a good VPN. Not sure if I am allowed to promote one here and I am not affiliated with it by any means but PIA is great. I like its security for online banking and stocks etc. Especially being secure for My Number and American Social Security number when doing tax material.

I use JCom in Japan. I find it drops once every few days and that is frustrating. I think it is my outdated modems.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

A VPN only hides your locations etc. The amount of data used is still recorded. I only gave torrents as an example. In Japan you must not go over the 30GB upload limit. The first month you will get a nasty letter from NTT and the next month if you continue your internet will be disconnected.

JCom is more expensive than NTT. The TV service is also more expensive than HirakiTV.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

"jammed up" such a highly technical article.... perhaps you should clean out the internet pipes so they don't jam

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@zichi: Get Usen, 4900 a month, unlimited, I do 100-200 GB a month because I stream heavy. Never had an issue ever for 15 years!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

gogogo

My NTT is also unlimited for download data. I guess I probably use abut 7-10 GB per day. I have the broadband, TV and telephone and wifi. I can also connect to my TV when out.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Depends on your provider, your location and the time of day.

If you use a very popular provider during the evening, and you’re located relatively far from the exchange, your speed will be slow. So do the opposite.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Changing provider made a world of difference for me. I went from 1-2mbps during evenings to 300-600 mbps with the new provider.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@zichi: Usen, 100mbit unlimited, 5 global IPs (even the installers were wondering WTF)... 4900 a month unlimited, I run my own global game servers from it. Can't complain in the slightest. Never ever gone down.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Here in Tokyo on NTT Communications, my speed often drops to near zero, around 3 or 4 mbps, on Saturday and Sunday mornings, and when there is stormy weather. Normally around 40-60 mbps, although the advertised speed is 150.

My devices also don't like 5hz. I put them manually on it, and they usually automatically switch to the slower 2.

It seems internet connections these days dont come close to fulfilling the IPO's promises. It used to be better about 10 years ago, when I had a cable TV package with a rock-solid LAN connection.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Lately found myself helping a lot of people with these "working from home" issues

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If you're using Wireless, avoid using the Microwave.... apparently that helps.

If your Router supports it enable QoS and st the priorities according to who deserves it the most.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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