Staying connected at home: a new reality for Europeans

As the battle against COVID-19 continues, more and more countries across Europe are issuing partial or full restrictions orders for businesses, social gatherings, and travel.


As a result, companies are embracing comprehensive Work from Home (WFH) policies, schools are adopting innovative solutions to keep students safe, and people are increasingly relying on the internet for online services and shopping. Never before have we depended so much on Wi-Fi and connected devices to carry on living our lives.


As a result, it’s crucial to ensure that you are getting the most out of your home Wi-Fi network – to not only support you as you work from home, or enable children to continue their school work but also as a means of entertainment and staying connected to the outside world.


Let’s take a look at six ways to ensure you and your family get the best Wi-Fi possible as we continue the fight against COVID-19.


First, let’s set the scene…


Dad is on a conference call in the dining room, mum is online shopping in the living room, the twins are distance-learning on their tablets, their brother is online gaming in his bedroom, and their sister is binge-streaming her favourite TV shows while posting on social media. Lest we forget the abundance of connected IoT devices throughout the home already, from IP cameras to voice-activated smart speakers – all are battling for bandwidth simultaneously, all day, every day, for what could be months on end.


If this sounds familiar, then perhaps it’s time to consider the following tips to get the most out of your home Wi-Fi network and give your router a helping hand it deserves during these trying times.


1. Choose a plan that fits your needs


With so many devices connected to your home Wi-Fi during COVID-19 – it’s vital to have the right plan in place from your Internet Service Provider (ISP) that offers the right amount of data to suit you and your whole family’s Wi-Fi needs.


The right plan enables enough high-speed Wi-Fi so that multiple devices can connect to your home network and each one to get the bandwidth it needs to carry out the plethora of tasks required throughout the day, without any buffering or lag — because let’s face it, nobody wants that!


Likewise, it’s essential that you keep an eye on your data usage. Online activities like streaming, gaming, and video conferencing will eat through your data package, so it’s crucial to ensure there is enough to go around to meet the household’s needs.


2. Selecting the appropriate router for the job


In times like these, it’s important to remember the unsung hero of the modern smart home, the Wi-Fi router — from surveillance to gaming, 4K streaming to video calling, none of it would be possible without a dependable Wi-Fi router. And as smart homes become smarter and more devices compete for a piece of the Wi-Fi action — make sure the “internet box with the antennae things sticking out that sits in the corner” is up-to-date, positioned well and functioning at its utmost best is.


So, what’s the best router to go for? Well, for optimal connectivity you want to be running at least an 11ac (Wi-Fi 5) router (preferably with Gigabit WAN connectivity), and at best, the latest standard, 11ax (Wi-Fi 6) which, as well as Gigabit WAN connectivity, has been specifically designed for optimal performance in device-dense areas. Operating with a staggering 4 times greater capacity and 25% faster speeds for a wealth of connected devices — perhaps it’s time to give your home the Wi-Fi upgrade it deserves, with a Wi-Fi 6 router.


3. Put your Wi-Fi to the test, the speed test!


If you’re concerned about your Wi-Fi connection but aren’t sure how to go about fixing it – there are few ways you can test the speed of your Wi-Fi online, on your laptop’s browser or even on your mobile device through a number of different online platforms offering ‘internet speed tests’. However, some clever Wi-Fi routers now come with built-in internet speed tests, powered by Ookla®, that let you check the true performance capabilities on both the uplink and downlinks in different rooms throughout your home.


Note, it’s important to identify areas around the house where the Wi-Fi is performing significantly worse so that the next steps in improving your Wi-Fi network can be taken.


4. It’s time to set your router free


Yes, as simple as it sounds — move your router! A straight-forward re-positioning of your Wi-Fi router to a better location can maximise its potential. Contrary to popular practice — Wi-Fi routers do not work best when stuck in the corner, out of sight, nor do they function well beside any large metal surfaces like refrigerators or microwaves.


For optimal performance place your Wi-Fi router out in the open, if practical, equidistant from the floor and ceiling and in a central location within your home. After all, it is transmitting a radio signal, and therefore, open space will allow it to work as efficiently as possible.


This should result in improved conference call quality, video streaming, as well as the whole household getting the connection they need when they need it.


5. Reach further with a Wi-Fi extender


Placing your Wi-Fi router in what would be your home’s optimal location may not always be practical. So, wherever your router cannot go, a handy plug-in Wi-Fi range extender can. It boosts your existing Wi-Fi signal even further throughout your home, and what’s more, they are easy to set-up and use the same network ID as your current Wi-Fi.


6. Maybe it’s time to mesh things up a little


For homes that often experience Wi-Fi dead zones, whether your home office is on the fourth floor of your town-house or the kids play online gaming in their rooms at the end of the hallway, with whole-home mesh Wi-Fi systems your entire home is blanketed in one high-speed Wi-Fi mesh network.


It works by placing several units (usually two or three) around your home that pair with one another to create a stable, consistent and seamless Wi-Fi mesh network that fits everyone’s needs.


So, say “good-bye” to buffering, because you’ll never have to wait for Wi-Fi again with the latest whole-home mesh Wi-Fi networks.


Looking ahead


During these trying times, for as long as they may last, it is important to ensure your home Wi-Fi is operating at peak performance — especially if you, and others at home, rely on it for your day job and especially where children’s education is concerned. And in the spirit of community, it is also vitally important to be able to keep in touch with family and friends across the globe.


Are the above techniques working? If not, perhaps it may be time to upgrade to the Wi-Fi network your home deserves.


Until next time, stay connected… and protected.

Neil Patel, Director European Marketing and Business Development

A highly-regarded voice in the networking industry, Neil Patel has spearheaded D-Link's European Marketing and Business Development for nearly a decade.