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Will COVID-19 Break The Internet?

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Will COVID-19 Break The Internet?

With the majority of us confined at home because of Coronavirus, the most popular mode of entertainment is the internet, which is also supporting a surge of telecommuters. Will mixing work and play be too much for our networks? Already last week there were outages across Europe and the U.S. due to the record-high internet traffic. Usage of the internet now is comparable to peak times like during the Olympics. 

To alleviate some of the strain, the Federal Communications Commission has allowed AT&T and Verizon temporary access to unused frequencies for broadband. Some are taking a less not more approach such as the European Union, Amazon, Netflix, and YouTube limiting all streaming to standard definition video for at least 30 days. 

Can the Internet Handle the Surge?

In 2011, the FCC started studying the performance of residential networks, and most service providers were found to be able to maintain performance during peak usage hours. However, the study didn’t account for the effects of WiFi, which has increased in use by 88% for phone calls, corporate VPNs, or sudden, mass behavior change, like we are witnessing now.

The internet isn’t the only problem, residential networks are not optimized for the current situation. Home networks are geared towards download speed for streaming content and are more limited in upload speed, unlike corporate networks that need to support video conferencing, large file uploads, and larger applications. 4 of the 10 largest cities have already experienced their residential internet slow down.

How to Stay Connected

Adapting your network for optimum performance is easier than it sounds.

  • Best router placement

    • Place in a central location for the best signal coverage
    • Keep other tech away from your router which can cause interference
    • Never place router inside a cabinet or closet, any walls will obstruct your signal
  • Use Netgear WiFi Analytics

    • The free app works with any router
    • Tests WiFi signal as you move around your house
    • Identifies the channel with the best signal
  • Change Your Router Channel and DNS

    • Find your router’s IP address
    • Type or paste the IP into a browser and log in 
    • Find WiFi settings and change to the best channel
    • Next, choose a faster DNS service by telling your router to use
      • Cloudflare 1.1.1.1 or 1.0.0.1
      • Google 8.8.8.8 or 8.8.4.4
  • Reduce Unnecessary Traffic

    • Hardwire your computer with an ethernet cord, it’s faster than WiFi
    • Use voice instead of video on teleconferences for everyone except the presenter
    • Change your streaming settings to lower video quality, saving bandwidth for other things
  • Upgrade Your Network

    • For dead spots add an antenna or mesh extender
    • Upgrade your internet service for more broadband
    • Get a 5 GHz or dual-band router which offers higher speeds and withstands interference better
    • Turn off the public hotspot function in router settings (for Comcast rentals)

The Coronavirus in the end may not break the internet, but it can certainly bog it down. So before you throw your computer or phone out the window in frustration, try a few of these tips. 

Check out more about the coronavirus’ effect on the internet here!

Brian Wallace is the Founder and President of NowSourcing, an industry leading infographic design agency , based in Louisville, KY and Cincinnati, OH which works with companies that range from startups to Fortune 500s. Brian also runs #LinkedInLocal events nationwide, hosts the Next Action Podcast, and has been named a Google Small Business Advisor for 2016-present and joined the SXSW Advisory Board in 2019. Follow Brian Wallace on LinkedIn as well as Twitter.

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