Covid - Distance Learning Broadband Advice

Your Connection and Broadband – ITS Tips

During the Coronavirus pandemic whilst teaching and learning is mainly online, broadband networks will become a lot busier than normal and will be under considerable strain.

The weak link in the chain, where the system could get overloaded, is going to be the home broadband network. Among the biggest network cloggers, or bandwidth hogs, will be popular video and social media services, like Netflix, YouTube, FaceTime and Skype.

Video is already 70% of all network traffic. The moment you add in videoconferencing to all the shows the kids are watching because schools are closed, it could be a problem if everyone is trying to get on at the same time. Problems are likely to range from dropped connections to slow downloads or loss of video feeds and can test the limits of home broadband capacity.

The UK ISPs are doing what they can provide as much capacity as possible to support the country, but there are some common sense things we can all do to improve the situation and minimise our impact on network capacity. We have come up with some helpful tips:

  • If you are logged into the VDI avoid using this device for other non-work internet services or streaming audio or video whilst the VDI is active.
  • If you connect via Wifi make sure you have a good strong signal. Can you move closer to your router?
  • Turn on your radio or watch broadcast TV rather than stream music or video whenever possible.
  • If you have to stream video, you can reduce the resolution- reducing from 4K to HD, or HD to SD is about a 75% bandwidth saving each time.
  • Be aware of what everyone else at home is doing on the internet and work with them to not overload things when you need to work.
  • Keep your router as far away as possible from other electrical devices as well as those, which emit wireless signals such as cordless phones, baby monitors, etc. Giving your broadband router a reboot from time to time can help prevent issues - maybe once a week?
  • Use an Ethernet cable, if you have one, to connect your computer directly to your router rather than using WiFi. An Ethernet cable is a computer networking cable, which should give you a faster, more reliable connection.
  • Understand that domestic broadband connections are sold as a shared service and designed to have contention, and at times of peak usage, you cannot always expect to get the advertised speeds.
  • Ensure you are aware of your broadband contract details, any usage limits, make sure you know the contact and account details for your ISP in case you need to talk to them for technical support. 

You can try to use 4G and a personal hotspot if performance on your wired broadband is poor, but:

  • Understand your data usage limit, and
  • If all data in your contract is available for use as tethering or if there is any fair use limit;
  • Use your phone to carefully monitor your data use, but make sure you have correctly set the day of the month when your allowances renew.
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