Four Tips for Improving Network Connectivity While Working From Home

Morgan Kurk--thumbnail Morgan Kurk April 7, 2020

ARRIS_SURFboard__mAX_System_imageIf you are like me, or millions of other office workers around the world, you are finding yourself working at home these days. The result of this massive work from home movement is the broadband traffic that would have previously taken place in the office or on cellular networks has now been moved to networks serving residential users, straining these networks.

Network infrastructure and service providers have done a great job of adapting to this “new normal.” They have adjusted and optimized their operations so they can deliver to people working from home the broadband connectivity they need to receive and send emails, download files, videoconference, and use a variety of Software as a Service (SaaS) applications while other members of their family e-learn, stream videos or play online games. Even with the optimization, many people working from home are experiencing some difficulties with their broadband connectivity – whether it’s due to a surge in residential traffic in their neighborhood during the day straining the core network (like VPN access), their kids and others in the family all being online at the same time peaking the access network, or because their old Wi-Fi access point is due for an upgrade.

CommScope has been helping service providers deliver their residential customers the broadband services they need to work from home, all while, for the most part, working from home ourselves. Based on our experiences, here are some tips that might help you get the connectivity you need to get your work done during the current crisis.

CLICK TO TWEET: Working from home? Four Tips for Improving Network Connectivity.

Upgrade Your Wireless Router

If you and your family have good performance in part of the house, but not in the rest, the first place to look to fix these problems might be your Wi-Fi router. New Wi-Fi 6 routers (like our SURFboard mAX® Pro Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System) use mesh networking technology to provide more than 5,000 square feet of wireless coverage, enabling you to get a strong connection whether you are working in your home office, your kitchen or even your walk-in closet (for that important, can’t be interrupted videoconference). Some of these new routers have a third band, a dedicated 4x4 Wi-Fi 6 transceiver that can be used for dedicated backhaul. This will get fast service speeds even if multiple family members are connected.

Schedule Online Meetings Five to Ten Minutes after the Hour or Half Hour

Even a great Wi-Fi 6 access point will not improve your connectivity if there is server congestion caused by too many people trying to do the same thing at the same time.

One way to address this issue is to “time-shift” the beginning of meetings to account for this server onrush.  Scheduling meetings that start at some other interval, 5 or 10 minutes after the hour will improve the situation.

One other thing to keep in mind that helps is to reduce the resolution of video on a call or go audio only if you are observing the meeting and don’t need to have a video presence. 

Schedule Large Downloads for Late at Night

Even with everyone working, e-learning, or entertaining themselves by streaming from home these days, people still sleep. If you have a very large file you need to download, try to schedule it for late at night – between midnight and 5:00 am. Even if the kids next door are still playing the latest video game at this time, chances are you will have better connectivity than you would during the day.  Moreover, you won’t care if it slows down as long as it is done by the time you get up.

Contacting your service provider

If the problems are not in your home and not in the core of the network and you have already tried to move non-time sensitive downloads to other times, you can always contact the service provider to see if you can increase the peak speeds available to your home.  While you might pay a bit more, in this time of critical need the extra cost may be worthwhile. 

Even with great connectivity, transitioning to working from home every day can be tough. If you are having problems with connectivity, this challenge only becomes that much harder. By following the tips above, you can help address many common connectivity issues, and make the most of what is a difficult situation.

About the Author

Morgan Kurk--thumbnail

Morgan Kurk

Morgan Kurk is executive vice president and chief technology officer for CommScope, a global leader in infrastructure solutions for communications networks. Mr. Kurk was promoted to this position upon the close of the ARRIS acquisition in 2019. He previously served as CommScope’s executive vice president and chief operating officer.

Mr. Kurk has nearly 25 years of experience in the information and communication technology industries. He joined CommScope as senior vice president of the Enterprise business unit, then served as senior vice president and segment leader for the Mobility business, then as CommScope’s CTO, with overall responsibility for the company’s long-term vision and strategic direction, before finally assuming the role of COO.

He previously was an executive at Allen Telecom, which later became part of Andrew Corporation, and ultimately CommScope. At Allen Telecom and Andrew Corporation, Mr. Kurk held a variety of positions including director of business development in the United States and China; vice president of R&D, PLM, and strategy; and vice president and general manager of the Wireless Innovations Group worldwide.

Mr. Kurk holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Brown University, a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan, and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He is a regular speaker at industry conferences and an expert in system integration.