Internet at home - Tips and Troubleshooting
Updated: 10 July 2020 01:59 PM

While the IT Help Desk is here to support you with any issues you are experiencing with your computer, we would like to provide you with some tips and tricks to optimize your internet at home in preparation for the next semester. 

Test your internet speed at speedtest.net 

The following are recommended speeds based on activity type:

Network Activity and Internet Consumption/Requirement 

Activity Type   Minimum Speed Requirement
General browsing, email, social media 1 Mbps
Streaming music 0<0.5 Mbps
Video conference call (Teams, Zoom) 2-6 Mbps
Streaming video (standard definition) 3-4 Mpbs
Streaming video (high definition) 5-8 Mbps
Online video games 4 Mbps

 Keep in mind:

  • Federal Government's broadband benchmark goal: 50mbps download / 10 mbps upload
  • Your computer may use data in the background for updates

 Tips to troubleshoot your home internet connection:

  • If possible, connect to your router via an ethernet cable
  • If you are using wifi, try to position your computer work station close to the router. 
  • Divide your day and calendar for everyone's internet activities. (e.g. ask the kids or roommate to stop playing online video games when you are on a video call)
  • If experiencing issues, reboot the modem and/or router
  • If your router uses both 2.4 and 5Ghz frequency bands, try to use the 5Ghz band.  Often, both networks have similar names: 'homenetwork 2.4' vs 'homenetwork5.'
  • If you are using video conferencing and the connection isn't great, try the following:
    • Turn off your video when you are not talking to save bandwidth
    • Switch entirely to audio conferencing if you have a truly spotty connection
    • Rely more on asynchronous methods to avoid connection issues disrupting important engagement. For instance, if you are meeting live with someone and the connection is causing you too many issues, log off the call and determine a way to connect without requiring live video engagement. Maybe that's by submitting a video or by engaging via email. Work with your teacher or fellow student to determine how best to asynchronously connect.
  • Experiencing issues still?
    • Call your Internet Service Provider
    • Read up on "retention deals" on Redflagdeals.com 
    • Request support or improvements
    • You may be on an old internet plan or have an old router. New plans and no cost upgrades may be available

Measure Your Internet Speed and Performance

 There are three main factors and recommended thresholds for video conferences and VPN services:

  • Latency (PING rate): in milliseconds(ms), the lower the better.   <25 ms 
  • Download: >5 Mbps
  • Upload:  > 2 Mpbs 

Video Conferencing

Video conferencing requires uploads and downloads simultaneously. If you have multiple people in a household trying to do videoconferencing and online gaming at the same time, you might experience a less than optimal experience.

This table describes how Teams uses bandwidth. Teams is always conservative on bandwidth utilization and can deliver HD video quality in under 1.2Mbps. The actual bandwidth consumption in each audio/video call or meeting will vary based on several factors, such as video layout, video resolution, and video frames per second. When more bandwidth is available, quality and usage will increase to deliver the best experience.

Bandwidth(up/down)Scenarios
30 kbps Peer-to-peer audio calling
130 kbps Peer-to-peer audio calling and screen sharing
500 kbps Peer-to-peer quality video calling 360p at 30fps
1.2 Mbps Peer-to-peer HD quality video calling with resolution of HD 720p at 30fps
1.5 Mbps Peer-to-peer HD quality video calling with resolution of HD 1080p at 30fps
500kbps/1Mbps Group Video calling
1Mbps/2Mbps HD Group video calling (540p videos on 1080p screen)

VPN and Internet 

Unlike many other network applications and services, VPN does NOT reconnect when it is interrupted.   

If it seems like your VPN connection is not working, or disconnecting intermittently, it is likely an issue with the underlying home internet connection.

VPN disconnections can often be attributed to a loss of your home internet connection, even if it is just a momentary outage or fluctuation. 

The disconnection could happen when the internet connection is briefly interrupted.  Often due to a router, Wi-Fi, or ISP failing to transimit packets.