The internet has become an essential aspect of our everyday lives, and it’s going to become even more enmeshed in our daily activities with every passing year. From fridges to toothbrushes, more and more appliances and gadgets are being sold with internet connectivity. This is a phenomenon known as the Internet of Things, whereby previously offline hardware can now upload data on everything from our weight and fitness to air quality and home security.
Alongside this rapid growth in web-enabled gadgets and appliances, more and more of our entertainment and communications rely on the internet. Settling down to watch a TV programme at an appointed time has been replaced with binge-watching entire series over the internet, often on tablets or laptops. Even traditional broadcasters are getting in on the act, encouraging us to download programmes we may have missed over the last week. Buying singles and albums has given way to unlimited-access music streaming services, while social media and online gaming have revolutionised the way people communicate and interact.
To cope with this rapid change in modern lifestyles, it’s crucial for our homes to have the fastest possible internet connection. A powerful wireless router (also known as a home hub) should be connected to the main telephone point, rather than a satellite socket where connection speeds may be slower. Try to position it centrally within the property, as some portable devices have limited Wi-Fi range. If wireless internet isn’t an option, a Powerline adaptor distributes internet signals through plug sockets around the home for any devices with an Ethernet port on the back. Satellite broadband is an (expensive) option for people living in remote areas, while humble LED lightbulbs may soon be able to provide superfast broadband using light fidelity. This is better known as Li-Fi, and it could be the new Wi-Fi.
While any respectable broadband provider will offer unlimited internet access, this relates to data allowances rather than speed. Broadband speed checkers can indicate whether other internet service providers would be faster, while a few sensible precautions can help anyone to optimise their bandwidth. Change the default password on home hubs or routers to something impossible to guess, since antisocial neighbours may be able to ‘steal’ bandwidth from badly-secured networks. Download frequently-viewed media files instead of constantly re-streaming them, and disable automatic updates on web-enabled devices to prevent them from updating during peak periods of internet usage.