Broadband Guide - What you need to know
Work from home on wifi

Are you considering working from home permanently? Running a business from home has many advantages. Ultimately, it will save you both time and money, but investment in an adequate broadband connection will be essential.

This guide will help you learn how to improve your broadband speed and highlight key points to address when running a small business or working from home.

Check broadband availability in your area


Invest in a good quality Wi-Fi router

If you typically connect to your broadband wirelessly, you need to ensure that your router is up to the job. Connect your router directly to the master socket in the house and not via an extension cable. Ensure your router is visible and not e.g. hidden in a cupboard. Obstructions like furniture or fish tanks can cause havoc with Wi-Fi signals. Locating your router near other electrical devices like microwaves, Wi-Fi printers and cordless phones can also impede its performance. It's not always practical but if you have the option to connect your computer directly to the router using an ethernet cable, it will be a more reliable connection compared to Wi-Fi.

Key things to look for when choosing a new router

Make sure that it offers a dual band connection (2.4Ghz and 5Ghz). Most routers offer this as a basic option. The 2.4 GHz network will work best if you aren’t working close to the router. The 5Ghz network can handle more devices at the same time and is typically less congested but will not perform well over long distances compared with 2.4Ghz.

Look for a router that offers a mesh Wi-Fi solution. This will allow you to future-proof and extend your network easily whilst avoiding any Wi-Fi dead spots in the house.

Aim for a router that offers the latest Wi-Fi 6 technology (previously known as 802.11ax). Wi-Fi 7 (802.11be) is due to be released at the end of 2023.

If you’re comfortable with IT and prepared to delve deeper into your home network, we would highly recommend that you choose a router that has QoS functionality. QoS (Quality of Service) is key to managing your broadband network. A QoS router will allow you to prioritise your broadband connection between applications. For example, a VoIP phone call will have priority over someone browsing the Internet. It will also allow you to throttle speed for individual devices.

If your devices support the 802.11ac Wi-Fi specification, then look for a router that supports beamforming. A beamforming router can direct the radio waves directly at your device. A typical router would transmit radio waves in Omni directional 360° pattern, which is less effective.


Working from home in a busy house

Whilst you may have the luxury of your office space at home, you may need to share your broadband connection with the rest of the family. If you have an Ultrafast broadband and a modern router, you’re unlikely to experience any significant disruption to your broadband connection. However, if you have a slow broadband connection and other members of the family are using the broadband at the same time there are a few things that you can do to limit buffering. Turning off HD streaming on TV streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Reducing the picture quality to the standard definition will help ease congestion. Netflix can typically use 7GB per hour when streaming in Ultra HD. Reducing this to the standard definition would lower the bandwidth consumption to just 0.7GB per hour. Alternatively, when the house is busy it might be less disruptive to switch to an independent mobile broadband connection. We explore the benefits of switching to mobile broadband below.


4G and 5G Mobile broadband option

Mobile broadband providers, Vodafone, Three, EE and O2If your broadband connection is essential for your business, then a back-up solution is critical. Whilst there’s always the potential opportunity to tether to a mobile phone, this will never perform as well as a dedicated 4G or 5G router. Some 4G and 5G home broadband routers come with the option to fit an external aerial. This will greatly increase the speed and reliability of your broadband connection. See our 4G and 5G home broadband price comparison table to compare deals from the 4 major UK mobile network providers, Vodafone, EE, O2 and Three as well as bespoke 4G specialists like National Broadband.


Reduce your bandwidth during the day

Set regular working hours and ensure other people in the house know you’re working. By limiting the number of people on the network, it will help ease congestion and maximise your broadband speed. Likewise, make sure devices in your home are not set to ‘auto update’. Many online connected devices like; game consoles, computers, tablets and phones will by default auto update at random times. These updates typically happen when they are not being used, so you may think you have the house and broadband connection all to yourself, but your devices are busy uploading backups and taking the opportunity to self-update. This can be avoided by setting the update hours to out-of-office hours or manually updating.


Consider switching to a home business broadband package.

These are typically more expensive than a residential broadband package but have some fundamental advantages. One of the main advantages is a faster response time if your broadband connection fails. Most ISPs (Internet service providers) prioritise business customers over domestic connections. Business broadband typically comes with a static IP address. A static IP address will make connecting to your home office computer remotely much easier. It will also allow you to host your website server, install online CCTV cameras and use VoIP office phones. Business broadband connections are generally prioritised traffic, so fluctuations in broadband speed will be less frequent. Some ISPs also offer residential customers the opportunity to purchase static IP addresses. Check availability with your broadband provider if this is something you require.

Thinking of switching providers?

We compare the UK's major broadband providers,
enter your postcode to find exclusive broadband deals in your area