Science & Technology



The pandemic is putting a strain on internet speeds. Here's what you can do for the best connection


Published in Science & Technology News

CHICAGO - Nothing kills work-from-home motivation like slow internet. It's an issue some are facing for the first time as the COVID-19 pandemic sent them out of the office and into remote workspaces at home.

With many school districts opting for some degree of e-learning, a torrent of video calls and downloads from multiple family members could test the mettle of even the hardiest internet connections. And for families with limited income, it can seem like high-speed internet is out of reach financially.

For those looking for ways to improve their connection or get their homes hooked up for the first time, here's some advice.

_Make sure your router is in the right place.

Jack Segal, regional vice president of communications at Comcast, said your router's effectiveness relies on where it is in the home. Keeping the router in an open, central location can offer the best coverage so you don't lose connection throughout the house.

People may find their routers aren't placed well since they began working from home. "If you really want to work in your office in the basement, you can suddenly come to realize there's no connection," Segal said. "And so people will have to adjust."


_Use a wired connection if you can.

Wireless connections offer portability for devices like phones or laptops. But connecting to the router with an ethernet cable (and potentially needed adaptors for newer laptops) will ensure the best connection, said Ryan Johnston, DePaul University's associate director of infrastructure systems.

_Make sure you have the right speed.

Johnston recommends 50 megabits per second (mbps) as a reliable speed for most daily use. Nick Feamster, a computer science professor at the University of Chicago, agrees and said the range from 50 to 100 mbps should be more than enough for most households, especially if it's for one person, rather than a family or a group of roommates.


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