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The COVID Effect on Internet Quality of Experience


...the conducted analysis revealed that the number of devices participating in video conferencing services increased 2 and half times while each device is spending much more time consuming those services.

Among the many problems that were identified, two stood out in terms of frequency.

  • A 52 percent increase in general WiFi problems caused bad streaming and gaming experiences.
  • A 42 percent increase in intermittent connectivity failures were responsible for slow downloads and other conditions that could cause annoyance for home Internet users.

Many of the connectivity failures were the result of bad WiFi link quality caused by improper configuration of extenders.

In terms of WiFi problems, neighbor interference was particularly noticeable, as it more than doubled during the study's timeframe. This is no doubt due to the increased overlapping in times of Internet usage between households in close proximity. Connectivity failures occurred primarily because people in pandemic-induced isolation within the home are trying to reach their Internet router from remote rooms where they have not used connected devices before. Sometimes, these rooms do not receive a good, consistent WiFi signal.

Addressing home connectivity problems

There can be many reasons that WiFi signals lack reach in a home. However, there are many ways to improve connectivity in the home. Start by selecting a central location for the router and make sure the router has been updated with the latest software. Acquire a more powerful antenna for the current routers and reduce unnecessary high-bandwidth devices from draining bandwidth. Consider purchasing a WiFi repeater, booster or extender to extend reach. Switch the router to a different WiFi channel where there may be less traffic and congestion. Use the most up-to-date WiFi technologies to ensure maximum connectivity and performance. Check the router to determine which system may operate better with 5 GHz connectivity. Lastly, reboot a poorly performing router for a fresh start, which may clear the system for better throughput.

Without a reliable way to specifically diagnose WiFi problems, a longstanding traditional move (albeit often inconvenient) is to plug devices directly into LAN ports in the home router. While for some, using a directly connected Ethernet cable is a reasonable workaround, there can be many factors beyond the immediate user's home environment that negatively impact Internet performance, such as overall high bandwidth usage by the local population.

Because many new devices do not have an Ethernet port, and most people presumably don’t have Ethernet cables (which also have their own speed limits) laying around, there are adapters you can buy if you need to bypass the WiFi and go the direct-connect route.

Even direct connection from device to router doesn’t necessarily inoculate against Internet sluggishness. Internet problems emanating from infrastructure deficiencies along with cloud-service hiccups also contributed to downgraded user experience. Our research also noted that some legacy devices can be WiFi hogs, as they have a noticeable, deleterious effect on home networks as the number of simultaneously engaged devices increases.

Overall, the conducted analysis revealed that the number of devices participating in video conferencing services increased 2.5 times while each device is spending much more time consuming those services. In fact, according to our analysis, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, total consumption time per home has more than tripled during a typical 24-hour period.

There are other factors at play. According to an analysis of video conferencing by Research and Markets, “Social-distancing has also meant that people have had to move their social lives online. Video conferencing software and video chat applications have seen a huge surge in demand as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In March, video conferencing apps saw a record 62 million downloads. Much of the growth is due to increasing adoption of platforms like Google Hangouts Meet, Microsoft Teams and Zoom as businesses switched to remote working to limit the spread of the virus. Zoom was the most downloaded video conferencing app globally in February and March and it continues to see a high number of downloads across the US, EU and UK."

Conclusion

In this new era where the Internet-connected device count is higher than ever before, it is understandable how such usage spikes by nearly everyone may result in bad user experiences for many. Fortunately, solutions are available to help to address these challenges. The latest AI-based solutions, in fact, are able to resolve many connected home malfunctions autonomously keeping all the services humming along. As these solutions make their way to market, we can expect that bandwidth-related issues will be addressed by Internet service providers (ISPs) so that people at home won’t feel any degradation in their Internet services.



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