Christmas ‘22 is set to be a busy one.
The first in years without any kind of Covid restrictions, we’ll be gathering in our droves, coming together to put a collective strain on our waistbands, our wallets, and perhaps, once the Monopoly makes an appearance, even our sanity.
But there’s something else that’ll likely be straining. Something that, amid all your planning for the big day, you might not even have considered.
It’s thought that the average household already has 22 connected devices. But with BT estimating that the average smart home will have 50 by next year, not to mention the plethora of digital gifts that are bound to have adorned this year’s wish-lists, that figure’s sure to go up when Christmas comes around. And with all your nearest and dearest under your roof at once, streaming movies, facetiming relatives and testing out their shiny new gadgets, you might be starting to wonder…
How on earth is your humble home Wi-Fi going to cope?
How can I guarantee enough bandwidth for all the family?
To answer this particular question, you’ll need to determine what, exactly, your requirements will be.
With gaming, for instance, you should get by with speeds of 3Mbps, although some games may require more bandwidth than others and you also have to account for variations in the service at different times of day. Streaming, meanwhile, can demand anywhere between 1.5 and 3Mbps to run non-HD content on services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus. For HD, you’re likely to need around 2.5 to 5Mbps, whereas for uninterrupted 4K TV, you’ll need speeds of around 25Mbps.
In their own rights, the requirements for each of these activities actually sound fairly manageable. Problems tend only to occur when you’re trying to do them all that same time, which, with all the hubbub of Christmas Day, you just might be. Nine-in-10 of us are glued to phones or tablets while watching TV, meaning that you can’t even rely on a classic Christmas movie to cut the Wi-Fi a couple of hours’ slack.
If you do find that you’re struggling, there are a few simple fixes that you could try. If, for instance, your post-lunch entertainment is refusing to buffer, you could consider restarting your device or even your Wi-Fi modem. Where possible, close any unnecessary tabs or applications, and if you still aren’t having any luck, try lowering your stream quality.
How can I optimise my speed?
If your Christmas connection is still running a little slower than you’d like, see if any of the following fixes can get you back up to speed:
· Carry out a speed test on your line – There are plenty of easy-to-use broadband speed tests available online, which can show what you're actually getting at any given moment. If you’re really determined to prepare in advance, you could carry out a few tests over the days leading up to Christmas, to give an idea of what kind of performance you can expect.
· Update your browser – It’s always worth checking that you're using the latest version of your web browser, as newer versions tend to work faster.
· Check for other devices – Keep your router away from other electrical devices, especially those such as cordless phones, as the wireless signals they emit can interfere with your Wi-Fi.
· Move your router – The placement of your router really does matter. For a strong, unobstructed signal, position it on a table or shelf rather than down on the floor.
· Password-protect your broadband – If your wireless router isn’t password-protected, anyone nearby could log on to your broadband, not only jeopardising your online security but also slowing down your internet speeds.
If none of these fixes work, contacting your provider may be the simplest way to pin down whatever’s troubling your connection. It’s worth treating this as a last resort, though, if only because it might be tricky – if not impossible – to get through over the Christmas period.
How can I encourage device etiquette?
As excited as we’ll be about our new gadgets and gizmos, when all’s said and done, Christmas is about spending time with those we love. With that in mind, you might plan to limit the amount of time younger members of the family spend on their devices, implement a no-phone zone during the likes of Trivial Pursuit or even ban tech altogether while sitting at the table.
With kids, in particular, technology can create something of a minefield. How can you make sure they won’t stay up all night on their new games console? Or dabble in apps you’d rather they didn’t?
Over the Christmas period itself, it’s worth giving the kids a break by planning a few activities that don’t involve tech, or even agreeing to a digital curfew an hour-or-so before bed. As far as online safety’s concerned, check out some reviews for their new devices well in advance, and make sure you’ve familiarised yourself with how they work. Where necessary, turn off any cameras or location trackers, and keep yourself informed of which apps they should be steered away from.
Taking steps like these, as well as having open conversations about the importance of setting strong passwords and being mindful of their digital footprint, can go a long way towards ensuring younger members of the family safely enjoy their new gadgets.
When can I get some downtime?
For all of our talk about how tech can cause trouble, let’s not forget that our smart devices can also help Christmas to go smoothly. From controlling your festive lighting or keeping track of your deliveries, to sending the family personalised voice messages – all through your Alexa device – there’s a myriad of ways our gadgets can help us out over the festive season.
They can even help with factoring in some downtime. If you find that you’ve spent the entire day glued to your phone, you could use its digital wellbeing settings to limit your device usage. Alternatively, your smart devices could help to wind down with a calming playlist or meditation app – perfect for the folks who’ve spent all day working in the kitchen.
If in doubt… there’s still time to switch
There are plenty of ways to make the most of your bandwidth this Christmas. And of course, for those who aren’t already up and running, and are worried about how they’ll cope with a house full of tech-hungry guests, there’s still time to sign up to YouFibre.
For more information, or to sign up, visit https://www.youfibre.com/