Get the Most Out of Your Internet
On Monday 23rd March 2020 the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, effectively put the country on lockdown, and as a result many of us will be spending more time at home than usual. The knock-on effect of this is that we will be spending more time online video calling family and friends, working from home, watching video streaming sites like Netflix, doing our shopping, reading the news, and generally keeping ourselves amused over the coming weeks.
This has put added pressure on broadband providers, with BT's Openreach already reporting a 20% surge in internet use.
With this in mind here are a few handy tips to getting the most out of your internet and staying connected.
The advice, that comes from Ofcom, ranges from the seemingly obvious, like downloading films in advance rather than streaming them when someone else may be trying to make a video call, to the less expected.
"Did you know that microwave ovens can also reduce wi-fi signals?" Ofcom asks.
"So don't use the microwave when you're making video calls, watching HD videos or doing something important online."
Other tips include:
Position your internet router as far as possible from other devices that may interfere with the signal, such as on a table or shelf rather than the floor
Keep your router switched on
If you're carrying out video calls or meetings, turning the video off and using audio will require much less of your internet connection
Try starting those calls at less common times, rather than on the hour or half hour
For the best broadband speeds, use an ethernet cable to connect your computer directly to your router rather than using wi-fi
Where possible, try not to use a telephone extension lead, as these can cause interference which could lower your speed.
Devices that can interfere with router signals include: cordless phones, baby monitors, halogen lamps, dimmer switches, stereos and computer speakers, TVs and monitors.
Ofcom also advised making calls on a landline where possible, citing an increase in the demand on mobile networks.
"If you do need to use your mobile, try using your settings to turn on wi-fi calling," Ofcom said.
"Similarly, you can make voice calls over the internet using apps like Facetime, Skype or WhatsApp."
The regulator also suggested disconnecting devices that were not in use.
"The more devices attached to your wi-fi, the lower the speed you get," it said.
"Devices like tablets and smartphones often work in the background, so try switching wi-fi reception off on these when you're not using them."
Despite seeing a surge in internet use Openreach said they can cope with the extra traffic.
"We're not seeing any significant issues across our broadband or phone network," an Openreach spokesperson said.
"We've seen a circa 20% increase in daytime usage over our fibre network, but that's in line with what we expected and not as high as the usage levels we see during evening peak times."