Internet Connectivity and the Home: How to Ensure Your Home Stays Connected
As technology continues to advance and become more affordable, families increase their Internet connectivity. This trend isn’t going anywhere soon, and everyone wants the next new gadget. In the modern world, Wi-Fi is just as prevalent as oxygen, and we’re reminded of that fact almost every day when we pass by restaurants with doors donning the famous wireless network symbol.
Over the holidays, I visited a relative’s house that wasn’t connected to the Internet. My nephew asked if I could connect his tablet to the Wi-Fi, to which I replied, “Sorry, there’s no Internet.” His confused facial expression was priceless. If you don’t want to be the owner of “that house,” then read on to keep your home — and your devices — connected and running on the Internet of Things (IoT) like clockwork!
It’s all in the router
Routers are nothing new. What started as an easy way to network computers together is now connecting our smartphones, tablets, and other devices to the Internet. We rely on our home networks to handle complex tasks every day, such as home security, streaming movies to our smart TVs, and handling numerous broadband services — all held together by a router. It would make sense then to spend some time finding the best router for your home, one you can trust to provide reliable connectivity to all your devices. It can be daunting to keep up with all the tech lingo and specifications when it comes to connecting your home — but it doesn’t have to be. Here are a few things to consider when choosing a router:
- Price – Clearly your budget dictates how much router you can, or should, handle. You can pick up a reliable router for around $100.
- 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac standards – Be familiar with these standards. For example, N routers can handle up to 30 maximum concurrent connections, and AC routers can handle closer to 100 connected devices.
- Speed – This varies by the Wi-Fi standard you choose, as well. Don’t get a higher speed if you don’t need it. For example, you don’t need a router that provides 650 megabits per second (Mbps) if you have a 150 Mbps connection in your home.
- Range – A typical high-end router provides 150 feet of indoor coverage or 300 feet of outdoor coverage in N mode. However, AC mode depends on the number of devices. More specifically, if you only have a few items connected, you’ll be better off when using the higher range of the device.
- Security – If you’re using a router that relies on WEP encryption, you need to update it as soon as possible. These are easily hackable, so you should get something with at least WPA2 or better. Do some research to make sure your router isn’t vulnerable to common attacks.
Know what you’re doing
You don’t have to be an engineer to maintain a network, but you should know what you’re doing when it comes to troubleshooting routine issues that hinder your Internet performance.
Keeping a relatively frequent restart schedule for your router is an important maintenance task to improve your network’s health. If you find that you can’t get a connection in some parts of the house, especially a larger home, then a signal repeater/extender may be needed. As I mentioned before, router position is important when it comes to signal strength — clear lines of sight are preferred as all physical objects, such as doors and walls, can and will weaken Wi-Fi signals.
Use the channels
Most modern routers are dual-band, which generally means that it has two radios that can operate on either the 2.4 gigahertz (GHz) or 5GHz bands. Taking advantage of the channels can improve speed and connection rates significantly on crowded networks by managing devices on both frequencies. For example, the 2.4GHz band is suitable for regular Internet browsing on your laptop or smartphone, while the 5GHz band is ideal for streaming video and playing games online. It has a wider frequency with more non-overlapping channels for your devices to choose from. In other words, this gives you more lanes for Internet traffic and data to funnel through.
Keep hackers out
Recently, IoT’s focus has shifted toward improving home security. While your devices can protect your home, who’s going to protect your home network? You are, so saddle up partner. Make sure you cover every base when setting up your router, starting with changing the default user and password combination and updating the firmware to the latest version. Picking a strong password is important too, especially if you live in a crowded area where many people are trying to piggyback off your router. If a hacker gets access to your network and starts clogging it with unwanted traffic, it goes without saying you’ll have a bad time trying to repair the damage.
There are so many devices to connect, and you’ll only add more as time goes on. Follow these easy Internet connectivity tips at home and never waste another second trying to reconnect your cousin’s tablet on Christmas morning. These simple suggestions will help keep your connected home running as your children or grandchildren have grown to expect.