Getting the most out of home office internet

When my Wi-Fi works, it works well, averaging download speeds of 60-80 Mbps. However, for unknown reasons it cuts out occasionally. My desktop computer seems to be the only device in our home that does this, so there must be some sort of issue with my wireless adapter or something. I get “very fast” speeds alternating with nothing (sometimes for a couple of minutes at a time).

While I can generally stream Netflix videos without any issues – presumably they are buffered enough to keep going through any cut-outs – video conferencing does not work well at all.

As a university teacher, this is a problem in COVID times. Although we have been lucky enough at UPEI to be able to teach some courses in person, there are still a number of things we do online. For me, that means meetings, some course teaching, and lessons with a few private students.

During recent ‘circuit breaker’ measures (including a 3-day lockdown), I was forced to work exclusively at home, and had to figure out a way to get better internet in my home office. My son, an avid gamer, had already scoped out various options for improving the internet in his bedroom, and bought a D-Link PowerLine kit touting speeds up to 1000 Mbps. To set it up, you connect one of the two adapters via an ethernet cable to the home router, and then plug it into the nearest electrical outlet. Essentially you have just turned the entire household electrical wiring into an extension of the ethernet cable. Next, you plug in the other adapter anywhere in the house, and connect it via ethernet cable to the device of your choice. Now instead of using Wi-Fi, that device is directly connected to the router. (Additional adapters can be piggy-backed onto this basic system by plugging in wherever needed).

My son let me borrow the adapter from his bedroom, and while the results weren’t spectacular, it did allow me to successfully teach an uninterrupted online lesson via Zoom with no issues. Although the download speed is not particularly impressive, the upload speed is much better than with Wi-Fi.

The overall experience was so much better that I’ve ordered an extra adapter for myself!

While the COVID-19 pandemic has affected my life in many negative ways, it has also caused me to improve other aspects of my life in order to adapt to the resulting challenges that are imposed. One simply has to think positively and look for alternative solutions.

TIP: Test your own internet connection by simply typing “speed test” into Google and clicking ‘Run Speed Test’ in the top result (or choose any of the other options in the results list).

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