As we discussed in part 1, internet speeds, especially now, have become vital. While we wait out this virus, adults are working from home, students are moving to a remote learning model and families are increasing streaming activity and online gaming and video chatting. The increased use of home internet makes the need for better quality home wireless more apparent.
For many families, the internet provider leases a modem with wireless access. This works well if you live in a small house/apartment, with just a few wireless devices. To paraphrase the Notorious B.I.G., “Mo Devices, Mo Problems”. As we add gaming systems, work computers, school computers, streaming devices, and then throw in a few smart home devices, well you can imagine the wireless system becomes a critical service.
Wireless coverage throughout the house is the key. In the past, one centrally located device should support up to 50 connections. This made sense when most of what we were connecting to our home wireless included a couple laptops, and maybe a streaming device or smart TV. As we add smart doorbells, lighting, and other devices, strong signals become more important.
Wireless extenders can help broaden the wireless coverage. Basically, they join the existing network and retransmit the signal. As with all radio signal retransmitting, there is some loss of signal strength, but this is a relatively inexpensive and simple option.
Mesh wireless is a relatively new concept to solve this problem. The basic concept is you have several wireless devices, the first of the devices plugs into your “modem” (the device your internet provider gave you) and becomes the “router”. The remaining device can connect via wired or wireless connection and extend the network. This is different from a traditional wireless extender since it is actually using a seperate network to “extend” the primary network so there is far less loss of speed.
For larger homes and home office/small business environments, a distributed wireless system may make more sense. Many small technology companies offer implementation and management of these professional grade environments, providing regular check ins, and updating the configuration as needed.
While we will be out of this “shelter in place” situation in the near future, this has brought to light the importance of having a solid plan in place for working from home, and having more family technology usage. The best time to start planning is now, and when our culture returns to typical rhythms and routines, those who have improved their home and small business wireless systems will be ready for new opportunities to work, learn, and enjoy their time at home.