When it comes to surfing the web, nothing makes it worse than a slow connection speed. Fast internet is not only important for those of us who want to watch a Youtube tutorial or shop for our favorite beauty products or browse Pinterest, it’s crucial. According to Duncan Potter, ARRIS’ VP of Marketing “More and more devices are actually dependent upon an internet connection to really get the full experience.” Duncan was kind enough to join me for an interview this week to discuss many different ways we can make our home internet faster, he dished on the latest equipment like modems and wifi extenders, and also shared a few tips for those of us who live in rural areas and are notorious for getting slow speeds.
Candace Rose: What’s the easiest way to make your home internet run faster? Why is fast internet so important?
Duncan Potter: “Fast internet is incredibly important. If you don’t take care of your internet, it’s a bit like forgetting the batteries for maybe all of the new toys that you may be getting over the holiday season.
More and more devices are actually dependent upon an internet connection to really get the full experience. There are a few things that you can do to make sure your internet is really ready for the holiday season.
The first thing to do is to look at the device that actually connects you to your internet connection or to your operator. If that’s covered in dust and four or five years old, then it’s probably time to update that particular device. The reason for that is that technology is so fast right now that it’s probably not giving you an optimal experience.
The second thing to do especially if you’ve got gamers in your house is to really look at the requirements that you have. For instance if you have people that are playing some of the high performance games that have come out like the latest “Call of Duty”, then you really need to be thinking about providing them with a wired connection called a DMZ. A wired connection means you’ve got the minimal level of lag in those games and it can be the difference between a fabulous experience and game over.
One of the other things is please take that wifi device (the thing that’s giving you the wifi connectivity) and take it out of the closet. Take it out of the basement. Put it somewhere in the middle of the house because really what you’re doing is dramatically limiting the bandwidth and the performance that you’re likely to get out of it. The other thing that you should do is keep it away from a cordless phone base station or cordless phones. If you’re putting it into the kitchen, make sure you keep it well away from the microwave. Both of those devices which everybody has in their house can absolutely affect the performance and interference on your wifi infrastructure.
Another thing to think about is if you’ve got different ends of your house that are not getting great wifi coverage and if you’re watching something, for instance you’re in bed and you’re watching a video and you’re getting blocking (it looks funny or the video is buffering and stopping the video) then you might want to think about using a wifi extender to get to every corner of your house. These are devices that usually plug into a power socket and what they do is they’ll boost or extend the signal without having create a completely different wifi network or domain.
Those are some of the things to think about to make sure you’ve really got great wifi and internet performance.”
Candace Rose: What should we look for when buying a new modem?
Duncan Potter: “There are a few things that you really need to look for, especially if you’re looking at cable modems.
The first thing to look for is the number of channels or connections that it supports. These are not TV channels, what you’re looking for is a number that looks something like 16×4 or 8×4 or 4×4. What that basically means is that the 16 or the 8 – the first number is the channels that are used to deliver internet connectivity into your home, what we call downstream (that’s the piece that comes into your home).
Clearly if you’re watching high definition video or you’ve got gaming going on, you really need to be thinking about a very fast modem. The upstream which is the second number doesn’t need to be as much, but it really should be fairly good if you’ve got gaming going on because you’re sending a lot of information out.
The next thing to look for is the standard that it supports. Now that sounds very technical but it’s really not. You’ll see a word that says something like DOCSIS 3.0. That really talks about the technology that’s used to connect you to the internet. DOCSIS just means Internet-over-Cable. It’s that number that’s very important, 3.0 is the latest technology that operators support. It gives you the absolute latest technology.
Another thing to look for is dual-core processors. Again, that sounds technical, don’t worry about. Basically it means that you’ve got one processor cord doing all the processing coming into your home and another one going out…and it means they don’t interfere with each other and they don’t take resources from each other.
If you’ve got a wifi infrastructure (as most people do), the latest wifi technology is called 802.11ac – think awesome connection. That’s absolutely the latest technology that’s being deployed. That is deployed on a different frequency or uses a different frequency, so it’ll keep you out of the cordless phone area and it provides you with very high levels of performance – three to four times the performance you get on existing wireless infrastructure. The nice thing about those devices is they’re typically what’s called dual band which means that they will support on one band all of the new devices coming out. They’ll support the ac standard, but they’ll also support all of your existing devices.
One other thing to look for is whether the device supports DMZ. This is especially important in routers because what it means is that you’ve got an area that you can connect your gaming devices into that gives them the fastest possible connection out to the internet and bypasses a lot of the additional protection that’s built into these devices for the rest of your home infrastructure.
It’s important you keep your antivirus software up to date, most of them do that automatically. It gives them the absolute fastest possible potential connection into the internet.”
Candace Rose: Do you have any advice for those of us who live in very rural areas and have extremely slow internet?
Duncan Potter: “The best thing to do at that point is to contact your provider, but the first thing to do is to make sure you’ve really got the optimal performance and that you go through those steps within your own home and eliminate any potential issues within your home. And at that point what you can do is you can contact your provider and look at what is absolutely possible and what the best performance is that they offer.
One of the other things that you can do if you just want to check the effectiveness of your connection is literally plug a PC or a device directly into the modem that you’re connecting to that connects to your provider and then run a speed test and then unplug it, connect it into the wireless infrastructure and do the same thing. That will give you some idea of the difference between the two infrastructures and whether you’re really getting the most out of what’s in your home.”
Candace Rose: Where can we go for more information?
Duncan Potter: “For more information on the products I’ve been talking about, products like our SB6183, go to SurfBoard.com, and on there what you’ll find is buyers guides, a wizard that guides you through the decision making process, information on all of the things I’ve been talking about and access to other Arris resources for support. At that point what you then do is obviously go to whatever outlet you’re comfortable with – people like Best Buy, or Amazon.com and happy shopping!”