Shoot the messenger
For the millions of UK workers who spend some of the week working from home, school holidays are a mixed blessing. More time to spend with the children, but also more competition for bandwidth.
In this household, the first day of the holidays is no longer heralded by the thunder of feet overhead and entreaties to come outside and kick a ball, but by a deadening silence. All that betrays the presence of children are dropped wireless connections and excruciatingly slow internet access as work needs are crowded out by endless iTunes downloads and open links to social media sites on a battery of iPhones, iPods, netbooks and notebooks.
At such times, it is normal to curse the broadband provider. But are we right to do so? An interesting new report from Epitiro suggests that the root of the problem could be the wireless network and not broadband at all. It found that computer users lose an average of 30% of download speeds and face an increase in latency of 10-20% when using Wi-Fi connections in the home.
The reasons are many: Wi-Fi routers with the same default communication channel as neighbours’, which can cause interference in urban areas and lead to dropped connections or slow service; physical barriers such as walls, doors and furniture; and interference from other devices in the same frequency range including baby monitors, TV remote controls, microwave ovens, garage door openers and cordless phones.
Wi-Fi problems are likely to become worse as more of us work from home and communicate with colleagues via VoIP telephony, video communications and other technologies susceptible to Wi-Fi degradation. So when assessing an employee’s home working environment, don’t forget to check Wi-Fi performance as well as broadband connections. The alternatives are to connect to the broadband router directly via wired Ethernet or to confiscate all nonwork related internet devices. Now where’s that network cable?