Typical Home Networks
There are multiple ways a computer can connect to the internet. Most households typically subscribe to an ISP (internet service provider) and use a Wi-Fi signal to connect.
An ISP provides internet connectivity through a physical cable coming into your house. This is typically accessed by plugging an internet router into a wall socket. For a Wi-Fi signal, a wireless router will then need to be connected to the modem. (Many newer devices combine the modem and Wi-Fi router into one device.) The wireless router is what makes a Wi-Fi connection wireless through radio frequencies.
It is also possible to connect a computer to the internet through a hardwire cable instead of Wi-Fi. While hardwiring a computer into a modem gives less mobility, it is often a more reliable and faster internet connection.
Internet Connection Speed
Having a fast connection speed can make a difference in your internet experience when it comes to watching video, viewing webpages, or teaching an online class in Zoom. There are several key factors to consider when thinking about internet speed.
Download vs. Upload Speeds
Internet connections are a two-way street of communication. When we describe internet speeds we determine a download speed (communication in )and an upload speed (communication out). Typically, ISPs provide a faster download speed than upload speed.
To check your internet speed, see the article Check Internet Speed using SpeedTest.net
Internet Connection Causing Performance Issues
If you are experiencing issues, it's first important to determine if the problem is coming from a slow internet speed. Issues with internet speed, computer hardware, etc. often present themselves in the same way but can have different or a combination of root problems. As an example, when experiencing a "laggy Zoom," the cause might be a slow download speed on your end, a slow upload speed from the other participant, or a combination of both.
Other common issues include:
- computer hardware including your Wi-Fi Adapter
- computer software (applications/processes open on your computer using too many of your computer's resources)
- problems with a modem and/or router
- issue with ISP (e.g.: Acme Internet Cable Company experiencing an outage)
- issue with service server (e.g.: Zoom service experiencing issues)
In order to improve your internet connection speed, you first need to determine where a bottleneck is happening.
Read the "Common Internet Access Breakdown and Blocking Points" article to learn how your home network interacts with larger networks and the greater internet.
[Sprint Check 1: CB 03/03/2022]