Move your router – and other ways to crisis-proof your home Internet


  • Internet
  • Saturday, 04 Apr 2020

Conference calls keep cutting out? Try connecting your notebook to the router using an Ethernet cable. — dpa

The video conference freezes while you're working in your home office, websites takes ages to load, streamed films are constantly buffering.

With everyone at home and online at the same time in coronavirus-imposed social isolation, the Internet hasn't always been as stable recently.

So what can you do to improve your online and viewing experience? Video streaming in particular uses a lot of bandwidth so it can help if you reduce the resolution of the movies and TV you're watching.

This is possible with almost all streaming services and video platforms if you look at the settings. Some large services like Netflix and YouTube have temporarily reduced the video data rate on the provider side in Europe to reduce the data traffic.

Stutters, dropouts and the like can be countered by simply moving your notebook, tablet or smartphone closer to the internet router. When you're using wi-fi, the data rate drops the further you are from the router. Moving closer to it should improve the signal.

It's also worthwhile asking everyone in the household whether and when they're using data-intensive applications. You can probably agree with other to pause their streaming so long as you're in an important video conference.

The experts also recommend connecting your notebook to the router using an Ethernet cable. If the device doesn't have an Ethernet socket you can buy a USB Ethernet adapter for under US$20 (RM87).

You'll then have a stable gigabit connection to the router. A cable is also helpful if you experience interference from neighbouring wi-fi networks.

If you want to reduce the burden on the network further you can also switch broadcasting technologies and use linear TV and radio.

For linear TV you'll need a connection by antenna, satellite or cable. With good reception, digital antenna television usually runs with a tiny stub antenna.

For satellite TV of course you'll need a dish. The necessary tuner is generally already installed in newer televisions, otherwise you'll need a special receiver box.

When it comes to radio, analogue (FM) and digital (DAB +) signals are available. FM radio can even be listened to on a smartphone or tablet if you have the right app. The cable of the plugged-in headphones then serves as an antenna.

Music streaming doesn't use nearly as much bandwidth as video streaming but you can also listen to music without the internet by playing your CD, vinyl or MP3 collections.

CDs, DVDs, and Blu-ray discs can be seen as the audio-visual equivalent of canned food: entertainment that doesn't need a network connection and which is always ready to be woken from its slumber. – dpa

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