Enjoying internet access throughout the home

Mobile devices

Within a decade, internet access has gone from a weekend curiosity to a staple of daily life. We rely on internet connectivity to power our home assistants, for television and gaming entertainment and while we’re shopping, socialising and communicating. A house doesn’t feel like a home without a broadband router’s lights flashing discreetly away in one corner.

However, the routers provided by broadband companies aren’t always up to the demands of modern life. The same is true of the infrastructure connecting your new home with the information superhighway. Most providers are relying on a telephone line installed by Openreach, which often slows data speeds for the final leg of its journey into your home. So what can you do to boost and optimise internet access?

Openreach or fibre broadband?

This depends whether Virgin Media is cabled in your area. Because fibre connectivity extends directly into your premises (rather than up to the nearby exchange cabinet), it usually delivers superior line speeds. However, Openreach is also investing heavily in Fibre to the Premises infrastructure across Scotland, so don’t despair if your street isn’t cabled yet. Use a postcode speed checker to determine the best average speed achievable in your home. The higher the figure in Mbps, the more devices and web traffic it’ll support.

Hardwired always beats wireless

If you ever report a broadband fault, technical support staff will ask you to plug a computer into your router. Those chunky Ethernet cables with their brightly-coloured Lego-brick plugs transfer data far more reliably than Wi-Fi, which is susceptible to interference and dropouts. You’ll also enjoy superior connection speeds by plugging devices straight into the router. Look for Ethernet ports on desktop computers and laptops, games consoles and smart TVs.

Powerline adaptors

If it’s not possible to run Ethernet cables between your router and specific devices, invest in a set of Powerline adaptors. Resembling lamp timers, these bulky white adaptors use domestic plug sockets to pipe data around a property’s electrical circuits. This ensures devices in any room are able to receive superfast internet bandwidth. Powerline adaptors are slightly slower than a direct Ethernet connection, but much faster than Wi-Fi.

Banish range anxiety

Broadband routers supplied by domestic providers tend to be cheaply made, only beaming Wi-Fi signals across a modest area. If your home is large or unusually laid out, you might struggle to pick up wireless signals in far-flung rooms, let alone the garden. One solution involves investing in a more expensive router sporting external aerials, which help it to cover a larger area. A similar effect is achieved by mesh extenders – small satellite units amplifying the main router’s signal, to multiply its area of coverage.

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