More people at home full time means more people using the internet which translates to less bandwidth per person. Some days, it may feel like your connection is slower than usual. Is it because the kids are streaming an HD movie or playing Call of Duty online with four hundred of their closest friends, both with Zoom video on a separate device so they can chat at the same time?
Don’t get me wrong, I like a good video game alien war as much as anyone, but odds are that it’s your spreadsheet, sales call, and video conference that are paying the bills, not your kids’ TikTok videos and Fortnite battles.
While it seems reasonable to tell the family not to interrupt you while you’re on a work call, forbidding them from using the internet may be a step too far. The kids might be doing schoolwork (or at least claiming they are) or they might need an outlet during a rainy day. Is there a solution that allows the family to continue using the internet without hogging all the bandwidth? There might be.
Naturally, the quickest and easiest solution to not enough to go around is “get more”. Depending on your provider, you might be able to increase your bandwidth. This usually doesn’t require a visit by a technician and can often be done instantly. A call to your internet provider should be able to determine whether you can increase your internet bandwidth and how much it will cost. Check with your employer too; under the circumstances, this might be an allowable business expense.
There is another potential solution, one that businesses have been using for years. Put as non-technically as possible, it’s possible to declare certain devices as more important than others. In slightly more technical terms, I might configure the WiFi router to prioritize network traffic from my laptop over traffic from any other device on the network.
The bad news here is that configuring this is going to be pretty technical, and the exact steps will depend on the brand and model of your WiFi router. Different manufacturers may refer to this feature using different names, although the most common is Quality of Service (or “QoS”). You may also see “Device Prioritization”, “Media Prioritization”, or “Priority Device”. Unfortunately, some older or cheaper routers may not have this capability at all.
If your WiFi router is an all-in-one device owned by your internet provider, it may be worth a call to ask if they can assist in setting this up. Alternatively, adding a second internet line and WiFi router may be worth the additional expense to preserve peace and productivity in the home WiFi wars!