As millions of people across the United States shift to working and learning from home this week to limit the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), they will test internet networks with one of the biggest mass behavior changes that the nation has experienced.

Teleworking is set to strain the internet’s underlying infrastructure, with the burden likely to be particularly felt in two areas:  the home Wi-Fi networks that people have set up in their residences, and the home internet services from Comcast, Cox and Verizon that those home networks rely on. That infrastructure is generally accustomed to certain peaks of activity at specific times of the day, such as in the evening when people return from work and get online at home. But the vast transfer of work and learning to people’s homes will show new heights of internet use, with many users sharing the same internet connections throughout the day and using data-hungry apps that are usually reserved for offices and schools.

That may challenge what are known as last-mile services, which are the cable broadband and fiber-based broadband services that pipe the internet into homes. These tend to provide a very different internet service from what’s available in offices and schools, which typically have “enterprise grade” internet broadband service. In broad terms, many offices and schools essentially have the equivalent of a big pipe to carry internet traffic, compared with a garden hose for most homes.

So, here are a few tips that may help improve internet reliability and performance while you stay safe at home.

  • Contact your provider to see if you can increase your bandwidth. Your provider may be offering increased bandwidth at no additional charge.  If your provider is not offering complimentary upgrades, you may be able to get your bandwidth increased temporarily in order to better cope with the increased demand.
  • Limit the use of Video streaming when possible. Connect to conference calls by voice only if possible.  Video use eats up bandwidth. If video is not required connect by voice only.
  • Use your phone cellular network during peak home Wi-Fi Use. Turn off your cell phone Wi-Fi settings and rely on the cellular network when possible or conduct your voice call on your landline if applicable. Try to just have one of your devices connected to your Wi-Fi network at a time.
  • Turn PC’s off or disconnect them from Wi-Fi when not in use. There is no need to keep any device connected to your network when not in use.
  • Turn off home devices connected to the internet. You may be surprised by how many devices are connected to your home network.  If possible, turn off home devices like security cameras, thermostats, smoke detectors, exercise equipment, security systems, and Alexa/Google Devices during peak work periods. Just remember to turn them back on after peak periods.
  • Use an Ethernet cable to directly connect your device to your router to improve bandwidth reliability. A hardwired connection will bypass your home Wi-Fi network and ensure a reliable connection to your internet service from your computer or laptop.
  • Prioritize who is accessing your internet bandwidth. During peak work periods it may be necessary control who is online.  Video games may need to be turned off during critical work call or eLearning sessions.

As with other crises, be vigilant for increased security risks.  Dramatic changes to normal work patterns is a prime time for scammers and hackers.  Be alert for phishing scams and other cyber threats.  Virtual Private Networks (VPN’s) that are being used by most businesses to support remote access are more important than ever and that makes them targets for attack.  The Department of Homeland Security issued a warning about increased Cyberattacks on VPN’s reminding businesses to stay on top of security updates in order to patch potential vulnerabilities.  Check with your support vendor to ensure that your systems are current with all patches and are being checked regularly.

Please feel free to contact US Resources, Inc at any time should you have any questions or if you need any assistance with any network related issues.

Sincerely,

Victor Kellan
President
US Resources, Inc.
vkellan@usresources.com
(703) 891-9622 work
115 Beulah Road,
Suite 200C
Vienna, VA 22182
www.usresources.com