Have you streamed a movie lately (BUFFERING…) and while you’re trying to watch (BUFFERING…) you keep getting (BUFFERING…) interrupted?
Internet usage is on the rise across the country and worldwide, with the streaming giants, video chat services and social media sites becoming the way we interact with the outside world.
Yours isn’t the only connection out there buffering. Many will call their internet service provider (ISP) and complain because they aren’t getting the speeds they were promised. However, it might not always be an ISP issue. Your buffering issue could be caused by speed, strength or bandwidth problems.
If speed is the issue, then you’re right to call your service provider. You ISP provides a specified speed to your home’s modem. Past that, it’s up to each homeowner to make sure the signal is adequately distributed.
Most people only focus on download speeds, which are proudly boasted by most providers. When you are downloading, however, your device has to send back information and acknowledgments that may require up to 10% of the download speed for uploading. Video chatting’s rise in popularity has increased the need for high upload speeds.
If your TV is hardwired into the back of your router, you may need to increase your data package with your ISP. If your TV connects via Wi-Fi, you might want to check your device’s signal strength.
If strength is a problem, you may need to consider where your router is located within the layout of your home. The best way to think about Wi-Fi strength is to think of it like sound. Electromagnetic field waves and sound waves behave similarly in regard to dispersion, refraction and penetration.
Imagine you’re next to the TV and yelling to someone at the router. If you aren’t loud enough, or if your signal isn’t strong enough, they might not be able to hear you or make out your words. The same is true when your TV is trying to stream your favorite show or movie on demand.
Always try to locate your router in the center of your home. If your signal is weak, a hardwired connection is your best option. If that isn’t possible, a wireless mesh network would be the next best option.
Lastly, a wireless extender or repeater can be used, but be careful about relying on these types of devices as they can sometimes cause more harm than good. Remember the children’s game “telephone,” where a message is whispered from person to person? Imagine that, but with messages being yelled from every direction and getting yelled back out in every direction. Things would get noisy.
If you have a lot of people or devices trying to communicate through a single access point, you might want to check your bandwidth.
If bandwidth is your issue, you may need to investigate the overall network infrastructure and consider the hardware limitations of your router.
Bandwidth can be thought of like lanes of a highway. If there are too many cars and not enough lanes, you’re going to have a traffic jam. Most basic routers and access points should be capable of handling between 15 and 20 devices. However, if yours is a home or office with a lot of phones, tablets and other internet-connected smart devices, you may need to do some upgrading.