Published On: April 6, 2020Categories: Technology

As we all move to work from home for schooling and our jobs, your home network and the wider internet may become congested due to a number of devices connecting simultaneously. Even though our network can take the additional load, we should all do our part to make sure it stays congestion-free.

Here’s how to make sure your network stays fast for when you need it most.

If you’re looking to expand the range of your Wi-Fi network for working from home, check out our tips on improving your Wi-Fi.

Always use a fixed broadband connection where possible

Your fixed broadband at home (via ADSL/Cable/NBN) is always going to have more bandwidth and capacity for multiple connections. It’s designed to handle your laptops, smart TVs, gaming consoles and more all at once.

Our mobile network, meanwhile, is designed for connectivity when you’re moving around outside, where there is no fixed alternative.

Switch or limit your streaming quality

Streaming video is one of the biggest users of bandwidth. And the higher the video quality/resolution, the higher the bandwidth requirements go to keep the stream(s) smooth and constant.

At this time, when many of us are at home and using the internet to keep the nation in business, it’s critical to lower the quality of your video stream to standard-definition, rather than high-definition.

This way we can ensure more people can use the internet at once without it being slowed down for everyone.

For mobile devices, apps like Netflix, Stan and YouTube allow you to choose a default definition. Check the app settings to ensure each is limited to standard definition.

Switch to voice-only conferencing

As we all move to work from home, using collaborative meeting and chat software is critical to staying connected and productive. However, we don’t need to make every meeting a video meeting!

As above, we should be limiting the use of high-resolution streaming video to when it’s absolutely necessary. If you’re able, ensure that your meeting is voice-only rather than held over video, and mute your microphone when you aren’t talking. That last one is just for politeness!

Download updates overnight

Operating systems like MacOS/iOS and Windows need to download updates for security and performance improvements, but the size of these updates can cause congestion on the network if everyone downloads them at once.

The same goes for popular multiplayer games, which often feature almost-weekly feature drops delivered via large update files for platforms like PC, PlayStation and Xbox.

To ensure that network traffic is kept steady, you should schedule your updates to download overnight, preferably after the evening peak. Ideally, you should configure your systems to download updates between the hours of 1am and 7am when network traffic is typically at its lowest.

Download content to use offline

Streaming music and video platforms allow you to access your entertainment catalogue on-demand, but streaming these things over and over may degrade network performance.

To ensure you’re using bandwidth wisely, download your favourite music playlists or movies/episodes for use offline so that you aren’t constantly using streaming data.

Don’t connect multiple unnecessary devices or apps

You may be surprised just how much data certain smart devices or apps can use in the background.

A smart coffee machine or light switch may ping its server multiple times per hour looking for new updates or instructions. Certain smartphone apps, meanwhile, may use your data and location in the background without you even realising.

It’s this sort of behaviour we want to stem, as millions of devices doing this at once can increase network congestion and slow down your connection.

To ensure your internet stays fast, disconnect or delete unnecessary apps and devices at this time.

This post originally appears on the Telstra Blog