WHAT’S WRONG WITH USING WIFI?

Cloudstar customers must utilize a high quality, low-latency, and reliable Internet connection so as to ensure secure, stable and consistent delivery of services.  (Click HERE to review Terms of Service, customer responsibility clause) For the most part, speed is not very important.  Your Internet connection should have sufficient upload and download speeds, and low packet loss.  The most reliable way to ensure this, is with a wired connection.

Wireless connections are insecure, and unreliable.  Anyone who has had satellite television knows that their TV goes out during a heavy thunderstorm, and that satellite radio does not work in many parking garages.  This page will go on to explain the basics of why WiFi or wireless Internet connections may be unreliable.  We will also explain why otherwise normal looking wired connections may be problematic at times, and what you can do to reduce network congestion.

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MY INTERNET IS FAST – THIS MUST BE YOUR FAULT!

While many Internet connections may be fast, that doesn’t mean they are fast in both directions.  It also does not mean they are stable.

What good is an Internet connection if it cuts in and out all the time?  Well my Internet doesn’t do that you may say.  Fair enough, but maybe it does.  Maybe it cuts in and out so fast that YOU do not notice it, but your computer does.  This is when we start talking packet loss.  In other words, just because you have fast Internet, does not mean the connection quality is stable, or even usable.

Wikipedia Says: Packet loss occurs when one or more packets of data travelling across a computer network fail to reach their destination. Packet loss is either caused by errors in data transmission, typically across wireless networks,[1][2] or network congestion. Notice Wikipedia says “typically across a wireless network”- In other words, a WiFi network.

NETFLIX WORKS – CLOUDSTAR DOESN’T.

Streaming services such as Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, or Pandora use your Internet in only one direction – downloading.

You may be familiar with the term buffering.  This is when your TV or computer buffers or pre-downloads content so in the event of an Internet problem, your viewing experience is not interrupted.

When using services like video conferencing, VoIP telephony, remote desktop, or Citrix hosted applications and desktops, you are directly interacting with the remote services in REAL TIME.   When you press a key on your keyboard, this registers on the remote desktop at the data center immediately.  If there is even the tiniest delay in your Internet connection, you will notice a lag, slowness, or an interrupted connection.

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Let’s examine why WiFi exacerbates some common Internet connectivity issues.

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REFLECTION

A wireless signal is just radio waves. And just like light, it can bounce off of certain surfaces. Metal, for one, is a highly reflective material. This is a common occurrence for offices because they are generally in complex and intricately designed structures. If a large amount of reflection occurs, signals can be weakened and also cause interference on your computer or router.

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REFRACTION

Refraction is the bending of a wave when it enters a medium where the speed is different. For example, glass (windows) or water can refract waves. This can play into consideration when you’re carefully placing your router or modem. Different media have different refractive indexes. It’s important to track possible refraction when designing your wireless network because if a signal changes direction in traveling from your access point to your computer, this can cause lower data rates, high retries, time outs, slowness or partial loss of connection.

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DIFFRACTION

When radio waves encounter an obstacle, and travel around it, the wave’s direction and intensity both change. This is called diffraction. Diffraction can be even more pronounced or introduce a shadow zone depending on the size and shape of the obstacle. Walls and furniture are known to cause diffraction to wireless signals.

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SCATTERING

While this phenomena is similar to refraction, it’s more unpredictable. Dust, humidity, unevenness and other qualities in a material can cause a signal to scatter in all directions. This can have a significant impact on signal integrity and strength. Chain-link fences, certain building materials, and even smog are notorious for scattering RF signals.

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ABSORPTION

This is one of the most common reactions we see wireless signal have to materials. Basically, a material is converting the signal’s energy into heat. This occurs largely due to the molecules in the medium being unable to move fast enough to “keep up” with the RF waves that are trying to pass through it.

Different materials naturally have different absorption rates. Wood, dry-wall, carpet, ceilings, and concrete, for example, can make a huge impact on signal strength because of how much they absorb the radio waves.

Let’s be honest – COVID-19 is impacting the Internet.

HISTORIC NETWORK DEMAND

When COVID-19 swept the world by storm nobody could say they were really prepared, and that goes for the Internet (and your home Internet).

As more and more students transition from the physical classroom to online learning, even the largest technology providers have faced enormous challenges.  From video conferencing giant Zoom crashing, to online learning platforms buckling under heavy pressure, one thing is indisputable, the amount of Internet traffic has never been higher.

Is your connection slow?  Look out your front door.  Chances are the house to left of right of you now has a student engaged in online video learning, whereas just one year prior, that student was seated in a physical classroom.

Your area’s Cable, DSL, and Fiber Optic Internet may be at capacity.  The air around your house is buzzing with wireless interference from all the other people working and studying from home.  When possible, connect your computer to a wired Internet connection, and remember…. you’re sharing the Internet with your neighbors.

We Are All Connected with Cloudstar

WE ARE ALL CONNECTED

Everyone, and everything is now connected.

Smart speakers, Smart Plugs, Amazon Echo’s, Google Smart Homes, Security Cameras, and Ring Doorbells.  What do they have in common?  They all connect to the Internet via WiFi.  One could say they all “pollute” the air you depend on for fast wireless Internet with even more signals.  Your house, your neighbors house and the house down the road are broadcasting wireless signals. Families are spending more time together playing online games, watching online movies, and video conferencing with friends and family.

With only so many channels of WiFi Internet available, interference is inevitable. So how do you ensure a quality, clean, and secure Internet connection?  Use a wired cable to your home router.  After all, you are being PAID to work, so why work on a bad Internet connection only to be frustrated and less productive.

What can we do to improve our Internet connections?

TIPS FOR A BETTER EXPERIENCE

Whether you’re at home or in the office here are some helpful tips to help you achieve the best connection possible:

  • When possible, ALWAYS use a wired Internet connection. Hire a licensed electrician to install a dedicated Ethernet drop if needed
  • If you must use WiFi, locate your WiFi router, or WiFi access point as close to your computer as possible
  • Working from home? Use multiple WiFi access points such as the easy to install Google Mesh home WiFi system.
  • Try an external USB WiFi adapter with a larger antenna.  Internal laptop antennas are small and offer poor performance.
  • Ensure your network adapter (wired or wireless) drivers are current and up to date.
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CALL AN ENGINEER – NOT THE CABLE GUY

Call a professional network engineer.  Network engineers are typically men and woman with a Bachelors or Masters Degree in Computer Science with related vendor certifications and work experience.

When your local Internet installer says that your Internet is “okay” please keep in mind that cable installer technicians are typically paid to drive a truck and only receive several weeks training on wiring, and the use of a signal strength meter.  These individuals lack qualifications to diagnose complex network problems.

Cloudstar has multiple network engineers on staff who are ready and willing to help.  Our engineers have years of experience working with almost all of the major Internet Service Providers and are certified to work on most major equipment. If you prefer, we can also recommend local providers in your area to visit your location.