Broadband speed & stability issues : A hot topic for home workers
Almost everything these days requires internet access. Remote working often involves using programs that gobble bandwidth, with Citrix being a prime example. Work networks are nearly always protected by security & firewalls, & these seem to slow things down even more. Home workers need to prevent or reduce broadband speed & stability issues as much as possible.
The good news about fixing your broadband speed
You don’t need to know anything about the inner workings of Citrix, Adobe, security programs or firewalls to speed up your broad band.
While some people will never get a super fast broadband connection, there are very few people who will not be able to improve their broadband speed easily. Let’s start by checking that we understand the basics, or just skip the next 4 sections & head to the red text at the bottom.
What is broadband speed?
Imagine a highway between your exchange & your broadband router. Traffic moves in both directions with the fast lane carrying traffic into your router (downstream) & the slow lane carrying traffic away from your router (upstream).
Both speeds are measurable, & were quoted in kilobits (kbs) per second. These days, even slow broadband is unlikely to be less than 1000 kbs, so most speeds today are expressed in megabits (mbs – groups of 1000kbps) per second. Higher is faster.
Downstream & Upstream speeds
Downstream is the most important of the two. We pull a lot more down from the internet than we send up into it. Streaming movies, music & loading everything that is on a webpage needs a much higher speed than sending an email or sharing some photographs on Facebook or a blog.
Upstream is vitally important for people who play on-line games. It is very important for home workers too, although the required speed is likely to be a lot less. If the upstream speed is very restricted, the bottleneck caused can affect the downstream speed.
Is that all there is to it? Well, no…….
Throughput speed is the speed that data is actually being sent back & forth over the internet. This is the speed that counts most for home workers. It can be affected by many things. For those logging into a VPN or company network the biggest factors are –
Number of people linking to one site at a time
Number of connections linking from your home to the internet, through your router
No matter what downstream speed you get, if it keeps dropping out or losing connection it can make working or playing on-line very annoying. Stability can be more important than speed.
Broadband Housekeeping & Maintenance
Home workers connecting to a company or a client’s server are usually required to connect wired. There many be many reasons for this, but basically wired is required to provide a stable & secure connection.
The wire is a cable with an identical plug on each end. One end clips into the back of your broadband router, while the other end clips into a port on your laptop or desktop computer. This cable is called an ethernet or a CAT5 cable. It looks like this:
In the pic above, the port it clips into would be on the back of your router. All routers need 2 more cables, a power supply & an RJ11 / ADSL cable.
The ADSL / RJ11 cable clips into the line port on the back of the router, & into the microfilter (often called a filter)The filter clips directly into the standard telephone socket, & takes your telephone line & broadband line. It prevents interference between your voice & broadband line & makes it possible to run both of these services on just one telephone number.
Many sockets are prefiltered. This just means that instead of having 1 port for a telephone jack plug like standard sockets, they have 2 ports – 1 for the telephone & a smaller one for the adsl/rj11/broadband cable. The filter is simply built into the faceplate instead of being plugged in separately.
These components are all cheap, & need to replaced quite regularly. They are mass-produced & often stop working without notice.
Maintenance for the home worker is easy.
To remain on-line & able to work, ensure you have spare cables & filters & replace them once or twice a year. This will go a long way to minimising downtime – & loss of pay.
Buy me some time?
Optimising slow broadband connections
Slower broadband will often do the job as well as faster broadband. If you want to get serious about maximising your connection & avoiding drop-outs while working, try these quick & easy fixes:
- Turn off all call features. Incoming calls going to voicemail can can cause dropouts in your connection.
- Turn the wifi on your router off when you are working. Your provider will talk you through this easy process.
- Reduce electronic noise by eliminating telephone base units, mobile handsets, wireless printers & keyboards
- Open your telephone socket on the wall, & plug your filter with your broadband cable directly into the test socket which is behind the faceplate. This is safe if your socket has a split faceplate – They are designed to open & look like this
Finally, avoid using your broadband for other things while working. Consider it a dedicated line for work & your slower broadband will give you efficient service.
Connectivity is money for home workers, especially if you are doing call centre work.
Invariably, the main metric in any work of this type is adherence – Be at work when you are supposed to be. For remote workers, this means remaining connected to the computer system required to do your job.
Removing connectivity issues can make a big difference to being happy & stress free while working. Call centre work is fast paced with few if any breaks between calls. Preventing drop outs & system down time will help you to feel confident at work & free to focus on the task at hand.