According to the operators, our internet infrastructure can meet the requirements of the Corona crisis. Nevertheless, many people experience internet problems during home office. Some fast methods can help.
The Frankfurt internet hub DE-CIX set a new world record on 10th March with a flow of 9.1 Terabits of data per second. Netflix and other streaming providers voluntarily reduce the bit rate of their streams for 30 days. Despite these facts (that do not exactly inspire confidence), the operators remain optimistic. They point to past peaks in major football events or Apple operating system updates, which the network has also managed.
But there is still a problem: Of course, the large transmission links can handle most of the traffic. The overall internet traffic has just increased by little more than 10 percent. In times of corona and home-working, it is the network sections leading to the long-distance connections, that are more burdened then before. These must now increasingly put through video conferences, VPN or remote desktop connections. And this is where people struggle. If your internet is slow, however, there are still some quick actions that help.
Some Quick Fixes
Your video conference stutters? you have to endure long loading times or voice dropouts on Skype or Teams? In these cases, the simplest solutions are:
- Move your laptop closer to the base station (router, repeater or access point). This will significantly improve the WLAN connection.
- Make sure that no one in the family or shared flat is running data-intensive applications such as streams while you have important appointments.
- If necessary, connect your device directly to the router via Ethernet. Therefore, newer devices often require an USB-Ethernet adapter. 20€ to ensure stable gigabit connections to the router is a reasonable investment, however.
- Most laptops use a 2.4 GHz signal to log into the WLAN. 2.4 GHz signals improve coverage in your home, but could lead to interference problems with neighboring routers. If possible, switch to a 5 GHz signal. That way, you can better avoid your neighbor’s signals.
- Minimize your own traffic. Before conferences, consider pausing data-intensive applications such as cloud synchronizations. Make up your own methods: Do you even need the camera? Or can you switch it off at a certain point?
Service Provider Upgrades
If these quick fixes don’t help, you might consider contacting your provider. Increasing the connection speed can help, but for video conferencing, remote desktop and extensive cloud synchronization, especially the upstream of your connection is important.
With ADSL, this upstream is often capped at 1.1 MBit/s - even if you opt for a tariff with more downstream. In this case, you should ask your provider for an upgrade to VDSL (even better: VDSL with vectoring). Since you need a VDSL router for this, this is somewhat more time- and cost-intensive. But upstream rates beyond lousy 2 MBit/s make this option worthwhile.
The option of upgrading applies to users of cable connections, too. 50 MBit/s upstream are easily possible in the corresponding tariffs. In addition, the switch to a business version often offers advantages in terms of prioritization. These faster cable connections are worth considering especially when a DSL improvement is not possible for you. But: new connections surely require longer waiting times.
The last stopgap: Mobile options
If all else fails, consider switching to an LTE mobile connection during peak loads. Tethering allows you to receive this internet signal via WLAN or USB. However, you should always keep an eye on the transmission volume: Depending on the resolution, a video conference takes at least 128 KBit per second (up- and downstream) - 1.2 MBit/s is more common. Although only downstream is included in the volume calculation, this makes at least 1 Gbyte per hour. But it pays to keep an eye open: Many providers are already counteracting with corresponding tariffs and free data volume.
A last option would be getting a router with LTE. A separate contract is required here, but these are available starting at 40€ per month with unlimited transfer volume. In the event of line problems, you can switch from DSL to LTE easily and without loss of speed.
Things you can’t change
But even with the best possible precautions, problems cannot be completely excluded. Many services like Microsoft Teams were simply not prepared for such an explosion of use. In such cases, we have to put up with these small issues. They are usually resolved quickly. In the meantime you are almost forced to make yourself comfortable. Wait until everything is running smoothly again and enjoy that you are at home.