It has been a while since most of us have been working from home. However many may have found the internet connection and speeds are less than ideal. With all the different devices at home consuming the bandwidth during the day is no wonder.
The kids that may be studying from home, streaming video platforms all day long, and one or two parents working from home. It is safe to assume our internet connections have never been under this much utilization. The fact is Internet connectivity has become as essential as electricity or heat, well or air conditioning, to our homes.
Work from home, or work from anywhere
This is a new normal. Gone are the commuting days. It is a fair assumption the daily routine is quite different. It is then of relevance to explore the best possible setup to ensure we have the best internet for working from home.
The Right Speed to get the Job Done
Most internet providers will try to hook you up with the fastest, which also happens to be the most expensive plan. Though is that the best internet connection for your work from home? Is it the right choice? There is a problem with that rather simplistic approach. The demands for connectivity are so many at the home that simply getting ‘the fastest plan’ may not be enough nor the most ideal solution for your at-home office.
We have to remember the main issue is that there are several so-called smart devices per home utilizing the one and only internet connection. An appropriate analogy is cars on a road, the cars are the devices and the road is the Mbps for download or upload. It does not take a lot for the roads to get congested when there are many cars going in all directions. The same happens with the devices at home demanding internet connection(s).
So with that in mind consider getting a second home internet connection dedicated to the work from home. Your employer may be able to reimburse for it and/or you’ll get Tax Credits from CRA.
When using a dedicated internet connection for Work from Home the demands, in general, tend to be satisfied with lesser speeds. Following the analogy of roads and cars, this is the equivalent of a less congested, alternate road.
To test your current internet speed may want to use GoneVoIP’s speed-tester provider-independent tool.
25 – 30 Mbps Download[Altima $39.99/mo] [CIK $34.99/mo] [Heronet $52.88/mo]
- Up-to 3 devices connected
- Email and surfing the net
- VPN to Work
- Light to Moderate Video Conference calls
- 1 or 2 VoIP Line(s)
50 – 150 Mbps Download[Altima $39.99/mo] [CIK $49.99/mo] [CanNet $59.98/mo]
- Up to 5 devices connected
- Better VPN to work supported
- Moderate to High Video streaming and Video Conferences
- Supports those working CAD
- 3 to 5 VoIP Lines
300 – 1000 Mbps Download[Altima $79.99/mo] [CIK $79.99/mo] [Gems $64.99/mo]
- More than 5 devices
- Best VPN to Work supported
- Supports sending and receiving large files
- Heavy 4K Video Streaming and Conferences
- Ideal for those in Graphics & Design (CAD)
- Up to 10 VoIP Lines
To Wi-Fi or to not Wi-Fi
Depending on the work you are doing you may be able to utilize Wi-Fi. The general rule of thumb is the lighter use of applications and files the more Wi-Fi may be able to use.
There are several factors limiting, or perhaps better said thwart the performance of a Wi-Fi connection. For example; in order to have a secure wireless connection the Home Wi-Fi network has to be encrypted. Nowadays, we accomplish that by using the latest wireless encryption algorithm (WPA3). This encryption (however hardly noticeable) adds time and perception to the overall connectivity. Demanding more horsepower on the Wireless Router (for a better experience), the laptop, and tolerance on apps.
Add to the first level of encryption we have to also account that in order to connect to work most of us have to use some form of a VPN client. Which in short establishes a secure tunnel from Remote/Office servers to our laptop at home. In plain English, it is another encryption. There will be a secure (encrypted) Wi-Fi using a secure VPN to work. So a double-double, secure sure it is. Fast, maybe not so much.
Finally, we have to contend that the Wi-Fi wireless signal strength is variable since it is susceptible to interference. For example, say microwave is in use, or the dryer is going, or one of the neighbors is renovating and has high power tools in use. Also, factor in the Wi-Fi channel signal crossing from neighbors networks.
With all these what we mean, is that a Wi-Fi connection should be reserved for the occasional and very light Work from Home use. For all accounts is better to use a wired Ethernet connection. Your connection will not suffer from the same issues. While interference is still possible it is much harder to get. Typically means a cracked Ethernet cable going over or very close to another radio-emitting source. Finally, by using a wired connection you ensure the speeds you get are as close as the one advertised by the provider.
If you must Wi-Fi, then check the Best Home Wireless Routers guide we wrote a time ago. You could benefit from using a router that is Wi-Fi 6 and mesh capable. Though neither of these two fully addresses the points of performance degradation due to encryption. When working from home the recommendation is then to use ethernet, or wired, connection.