Trying to Work Remotely but WiFi Is Down?

10:02 March 23, 2020
By: Molly Kellogg

These are weird times. Learning to work remotely and doing it right is a hard balance to find. Below, you can find some quick fixes for problems that every person forced to work remotely comes across, whether it be dead spots, slow speeds, or flickering Zoom calls.

First things first: You must find your wireless router, wherever it is living in your home. A dark corner perhaps, maybe the attic. Now, since it isn't human, you won't be able to ask it what is wrong, and why it isn't working. Here, you have come across one of the ways that makes working remotely so difficult. It can be extremely frustrating when your computer slows down, or your phone calls drop. Diagnosing the problem is key to getting back to work, but it can also be the hardest part.

As everyone has begun to work from home, for the most part, these home networks that once dealt with us for a couple of hours, while we watch TV or surf the web after work, are now being overworked and overloaded. So, it is time to be brave, brush the dust off that wireless router, and become what you know you can be: a network manager. If you follow the instructions below, you are sure to be one with your network in no time.

Don't immediately blame your service provider. When your emails won't go through, or your Facetime won't stop twitching, it's a simple decision: Blame the internet service provider. However, the issue often doesn't have to do with the provider or the internet at all. Big players in the internet service-providing industry, such as Verizon, Comcast, and others, explain that despite ISPs being overwhelmed with activity right now, they are maintaining control. Comcast Chief Communications Officer Jennifer Khoury explains, "Overall peaks are still well within our network capability."

On top of that, providers are making moves to facilitate customers during these unprecedented times, including waiving data limits and improving speeds.

You've narrowed it down now. Next, you must actually confirm it's the WiFi. You might wonder how you go about figuring this out. Plug your computer right into the home router using an Ethernet port. You can then run a test, using Ookla's website or app. Take a stroll around your home holding your computer or phone, and run these tests in different spots. This will allow for a clearer picture of where your dead zones actually are.

Once you've diagnosed the problem, pick a new spot for the router. From your tests, you will see that the closer you are to the router, the faster the connection. Therefore, if you place your router in the absolute center of your house, you are guaranteed no dead zones. Remember to remain on 5GHz, for it is faster than 2.4GHz (although 2.4GHz allows for farther distances.)

Replace your router. If it has been more than five years since you went to the store, or it's been so long that you don't remember buying it, it is time to replace your router. In the present day and age, new devices are expected to perform using a more modern network.

Of course, if you don't want to drop cash on a new router, but you need to do something about those dead zones, purchase a network extender.

Keep checking on your network. Make sure you know what devices are utilizing the network currently and if there are any useless devices slowing the speed. There are apps you can use to determine which devices are connected and to cease the connection.

Keep watch on your apps. It is important to consider the application providers as well. Some apps and services are more bandwidth intensive, like video-chat services. This is because live video chat sends all the data in a real-time stream. Often, services work to change the video quality to not overload the network.

Use your hotspot. If all of the above solutions prove futile, switch to your phone's cellular network. By turning on your phone's hotspot, you can connect to the internet and do what needs to get done. It is important to remember, however, that your data plan must account for this change, or your bill will be a smack to the face. Some cellular services have announced plans to offer unlimited data, including Sprint and T-Mobile.

Due to the recent Keep Americans Connected pledge by the Federal Communications Commission, all internet service providers and wireless carriers will waive late fees and create hotspots for anyone who needs them, during these weird times.

Of course, if all this fails, you can just scream at the router and call it a day.

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