By Michael Oh and Adam Fisk
With multiple family members sharing home WiFi for simultaneous Zoom calls and big downloads, never before has home Internet speed been so important — and so strained. With working from home still very much in our future, here are our top tips on how to maximize your productivity at home by maximizing the performance of your home network.
We asked Adam Fisk, our Director of IT Services, what you can do to boost your home Internet and he said, “Bumping up speed through your provider, a better modem, and more robust WiFi access points.” We’ve taken a deeper dive into each of his recommendations.
1. Check Your Speed
Comcast and Verizon have recently invested heavily in their networks. Both now offer Gigabit speeds in many of their service areas. Check your package to see what speeds (download and upload) are on your account and what upgrades are available. This can easily be done online with your provider.
Once you know what speed you are supposed to be getting, use a site like Speedtest.net to figure out your current Internet speeds. However, be warned: Online speed tests may only match your Internet speed if you’re plugged in on Ethernet and the network is quiet. Record the speed, date, time, and type of connection (wired or wireless) a few times over the course of a day. And running speed tests on both WiFi and Ethernet may help you understand where your bottlenecks are.
If your wired and wireless speeds are consistently under your service speeds by over 25%, then you might be dealing with poor service quality or an old cable modem. Check out the Meraki Z3, below, if it’s just your wireless speeds that are lagging.
Are your speeds consistent with your service provisioning but you’re still experiencing problems with video conferencing and streaming quality? Consider boosting your home internet speed by upgrading your service to the next level with your ISP.
2. Free Yourself From Equipment Rentals
Normally, an Internet connection comes into your house and uses a cable modem and a router to provide good, reliable Internet.
Cable modems and WiFi routers from even a few years ago can’t keep up with recent network upgrades. That’s especially the case for the budget equipment provided by your ISP. Many ISPs like to rent you their equipment for a “small monthly fee,” which adds up to a lot over many years. In fact, by buying your own cable modem, you can not only upgrade your speeds but also start making money back after a year.
For those using Verizon FIOS, the options are fewer. However, a call into Verizon can convert your FIOS box to work with any third party router, if you’re not using FIOS for their TV service as well. That might give you more options to increase your internet performance.
3. Enter the Meraki Z3
Once you have your Internet provider’s equipment optimized, it’s time to focus on your own router. Of course, routers of all shapes and sizes are available directly from your ISP or on Amazon. However, our business customers frequently need something more robust and secure. Enter the Meraki Z3 series, a router and WiFi combo unit perfectly suited for an apartment or small house.
With a built-in 5-port Gigabit Switch, 802.11ac Wave 2 (WiFi 5) access point, and a single PoE enabled ethernet port, the Meraki Z3 was built to be the best of enterprise technology at home. You can use it to plug in your laptop, printer, and Apple TV via a robust wired connection and still have a port left over. For mobile devices, browse the Internet using the built-in WiFi 5 access point, which can have up to 4 different WiFi networks to give your family and guests different levels of access.
We’re big fans of Cisco’s Meraki line
The Z3’s real trick is how well it integrates with your company’s infrastructure. We’re big fans of Cisco’s Meraki line – the company was founded at MIT and later acquired by Cisco. Since then, it’s become one of the most popular networking systems of large enterprises who are concerned about security – used by the likes of Accel and the Boston Celtics. One of the reasons for Meraki’s success is the use of a cloud-based dashboard, which allows IT staff (like TSP) to manage your network — and even deploy new devices — without having to be physically present.
If you have a Meraki corporate firewall, each Z3 allows a remote employee to have their own encrypted VPN link back to the office for their work traffic. In other words, work stays secure, even when being done from home. The Z3C version even comes with cellular backup to keep you connected even if a storm knocks out your house Internet.
Want to Know More About How to Boost Your Home Internet Speed?
Of course, the Meraki Z3 isn’t for everyone. If you’re looking for reliable home routers with good speed but don’t need the business-level security, there are plenty of resources. Check out Tom’s Guide to the best consumer routers for work from home.
If you’re into serious performance or business-class cybersecurity, then it’s best to talk to the experts at TSP. Find out more about how we can design the IT infrastructure for your business – regardless of what comes next.