As it becomes increasingly common for people to work from home, broadband providers are finding it more and more important to deliver quality domestic connections.
Today, a stable, fast broadband connection is a necessity for most homes. Speed is a factor in quality, but is that all there is to it? Read on to find out more.
Having a connection of adequate speed is important for working from home for a number of reasons.
Your work may require downloading or uploading large pieces of data, such as video, audio, or design files, or you might need to make several video calls each day.
While it’s easy to analyse the effectiveness of your connection in handling the first of these examples, the second – video calls – can be trickier to interpret.
Video call applications tend to have systems in place for adapting to poor-quality broadband connections in order to avoid disconnecting completely, but the picture and sound quality will suffer for it, and so will the effectiveness of your call, and therefore your work.
Video with a low frame rate has been proven to skip important facial and body language cues, making communication needlessly difficult.
Let’s take Skype as an example – Skype lists a few prerequisites on their website for HD video calls.
One-to-one calls need at least 1.5 Mbps (Megabytes per second) for both the upload and download speed of your connection. For group calls, required download speed jumps up to 8 Mbps.
The fastest connections out there are fibre broadband plans, so if you’ve upgraded to one, you’re likely to have all the speed you require.
For everyone else, there are lots of free websites that allow you to test the speed of your broadband connection. www.speedtest.net is the most widely known and is simple enough for anyone to use.
Note that it’s worth running a speed test on your connection multiple times over the course of a day – as the internet does experience peak times during which the speed will be reduced based on total traffic.
The Internet connection to your house passes through many different connections, and it’s most common that the weakest link in the series is always the last step – from your city or town’s infrastructure to your home.
This makes it easy to increase your speed by simply upgrading your personal connection. If you’ve already done this, and you’re still having issues with your connection, there may be another culprit to blame.
The speed of your connection is one thing, the stability of it is another.
Having a stable connection is – depending on who you ask – arguably more important than having a fast one.
The information you view or download through the internet is transmitted in bite-sized pieces called packets – poor-quality broadband connections can seem slow because they aren’t stable enough to deliver all the packets transmitted through your connection, allowing some to slip through the cracks.
This is packet loss, and it’s very simple to check for.
If you suspect your connection might be suffering from packet loss, you’ll need to carry out a ping test, which you can find many simple tutorials for online.
You should expect no packet loss at all from your connection.
Networks these days tend to be very stable, so even finding a result as low as 2 per cent packet loss is cause to change your broadband connection.
In the meantime, a quick fix is to use an ethernet cable to connect your router and computer, rather than relying on Wi-Fi. People tend to forget that physical connections are much more reliable, and often faster!
If you’re still experiencing issues with your connection, it could be worth shopping around.
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