Timely Topic: What To Do If Your Internet Connection Lets You Down


Phone undergoing an internet speed test
This fall, back to school means going online for many students. And with so many people also working from home these days, household internet connections have been feeling the strain.
“A typical household internet service comes with a maximum download and maximum upload bandwidth capacity,” said Dr. Kamil Sarac, professor of computer science in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science at The University of Texas at Dallas.
Home networks were not designed to handle everyone in a household using the internet at the same time and pushing the service to peak demand, Sarac said.
“As most of the country — if not the entire world — is moving to a virtual life, the available network bandwidth resources serving our households may not be sufficient to satisfy the demand,” Sarac said. “The solution includes reducing the demand, or more specifically reducing the peak demand, and alternatively moving to a service level with higher-capacity network resources.”
If you have a sluggish internet connection, here are Sarac’s suggestions:

  • Stagger the times people use their devices or services that require more bandwidth, such as video, so that not everyone is using them at the same time.
  • Use your cellular data hotspot to provide internet service to some devices.
  • Find out if your router has both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies. If so, reconfigure your devices to divide them between the frequencies and expand your bandwidth.
  • Turn off devices with internet connections that you are not using, as they might use bandwidth whenever the device is on.
  • In a virtual meeting, turn off your camera and ask others to do the same, if possible, to reduce the demand on your internet capacity.
  • Contact your service provider about moving to a higher-capacity plan.

Dr. Ravi Prakash, professor of computer science, also recommends patching and updating software to make sure your network is secure. As more of us work and study online at home, Prakash said one of the most important tips is to be patient when faced with internet connectivity issues.
“Be prepared for things to go wrong when you least expect them,” Prakash said. “Stay calm, and be considerate toward the other party when they experience problems.”
–Kim Horner

Note to journalists: Dr. Kamil Sarac and Dr. Ravi Prakash are available for news media interviews. Contact Kim Horner, 972-883-4463, kim.horner@utdallas.edu.

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