Since the start of the global pandemic, BT’s home broadband network has seen a 60 percent increase in web traffic. BT, Virgin Media, Sky and other broadband suppliers have all clocked up new records for the most data downloaded by customers nationwide in a single day. And when it comes to sapping download speeds – and slowing down the Wi-Fi for everyone else at home, nothing is as good as online gaming.
Yes, more time sheltered inside has led to a surge increase in video games – with PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles sold out everywhere, Nintendo Switch bundles hard to come by at the start of the pandemic, and fitness-focused Ring Fit Adventure still tough to find on store shelves… it’s clear that millions at rediscovered a love of gaming. Games with huge online components, such as Fortnite, FIFA and Call of Duty: Warzone, have also enjoyed huge success over the last 12 months.
However, playing online with your friends can only be truly enjoyed if you have wi-fi that can keep up.
Insights from BT have revealed that to play online games at an “optimum” level, players will require speeds of between 15-25Mbps– which has a significant impact on the broadband connection in the rest of the home. After all, the average broadband speed nationwide for an entire home is only a shade over 60Mbps.
To reduce the impact of online gaming, players can reduce their graphical settings to a lower quality. Sure, things might not look quite as sharp on-screen, but it could mean that everyone else at home can continue to make video calls, stream, and shop online. A hard-wired connection for the computer or console could also give the Wi-Fi some much-needed respite too.
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While online gaming might be a (sizeable) niche, video calls are something we’re all guilty of doing this year. Whether it’s Zoom, Teams or Apple FaceTime, we’ve all become far more accustomed to video calls over the course of the last year. Each video call needs a minimum of 2Mbps download speed to keep the picture clear and the audio in-sync (nobody wants to deal with any of those Eurovision style delays where you end up talking over each other), and as video calls ideally need some privacy, it’s crucial to have a strong connection in different rooms of the house.
If you’re struggling to make calls, it’s well worth checking the speed you’re getting from your router. SpeedTest.net and Fast.com are two excellent services that quickly reveal exactly how fast your broadband is. A number of providers, including BT, offer speed guarantees with some of their packages. So, if you’re consistently under the magic number, you could get a refund.
It’s fair to say that one of the most common activities at home over the past year has been streaming TV and movies and with some content providers advising 25Mbps to guarantee a flawless experience it’s vital that you have a strong connection to stream your favourite content effortlessly. Like online gaming, that’s a healthy amount of bandwidth.
If you’re struggling to stream when other family members are gaming, making calls, shopping online and more… it might be time to upgrade to a faster speed from your provider. Full-fibre connections are now available up to an eye-watering 1,000Mbps in some areas of the country – more than enough for your entire street to stream in your living room without slowing connections. However, if that’s not an option – maybe download that movie overnight, instead of streaming? Or, have a family movie night together – so nobody is using the Wi-Fi for anything else when you’re watching?
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1/ Location, Location, Location
Position your hub in the middle of your home to reduce the number of walls slowing down your signal.
Once you’re more than two walls away from your hub, it has to work harder and your speeds may drop.
Mesh systems, like BT’s Complete Wi-Fi, Amazon’s Eero, or Google Nest Wifi, can help extend Wi-Fi coverage throughout every room in the house to increase overall speed and capacity. To do this, they add multiple nodes throughout the home – so your devices are never more than a single wall away from a source of super-speedy Wi-Fi.
2/ Device Speed and Connection
If your Wi-Fi feels sluggish, it could be due to the device you are using. Typically, the newer your equipment, the faster the wireless speed it will support.
The more devices you’re using, the more you’re using the total capacity of your home broadband especially if you have multiple Netflix streams and kids online gaming.
BT customers can test their speed using the My BT app, where you can check your ‘Speed to your Hub’ and ‘Speed to your Device.’
3/ Increase bandwidth and future-proof your home with Full Fibre
Recent research discovered that the average home now has 28 devices connected to Wi-Fi, including four Smart TVs, three tablets, two laptops and two games consoles. With homes becoming smarter that number is only going to rise so the need for a decent in-home connection has ever been greater.
If you haven’t changed your broadband contract for a few years… you might be languishing with some pretty outdated speeds. New deals crop-up all the time. And if you’re moving from one Openreach supplier to another (this includes brands like BT, EE, Plusnet, TalkTalk and Sky), they have to handle all the faff of switching between connections for you! So, you don’t need to worry about being left without access to internet for days on end.