In its most positive light, the pandemic was a great opportunity for some concentrated family time as we all hunkered down to remote work and virtual school around the dining room table. And, for months at a time, we put our home networks to the test. The good news is that if you are an Xfinity customer, you likely experienced a fast internet connection at home, even with multiple devices in use.
That’s because when the pandemic hit, Xfinity had already invested millions of dollars in its Michigan network to provide reliable, strong home internet when families needed it most. That investment is, in fact, ongoing.
“We double our network capacity every 2½ years to stay well ahead of customer demand, and that’s why we didn’t see a lot of issues,” explains Rob Ponto, public relations senior manager at Comcast.
Now that schools have learned how to quickly pivot to remote instruction, snow days may be a thing of the past (sorry kids!), and the truth is that we all need to be prepared for classrooms to close in the event of a COVID outbreak or some other unforeseen circumstance.
You may be wondering how to maximize your home Wi-Fi network to keep your already fast internet connection strong and reliable in case that dining room table once again becomes the hub of remote learning for your kids — and meeting after meeting for you.
We tapped Ponto for the best tips for maximizing your fast internet connection speeds at home. Some of these suggestions might even surprise you, so read on.
At the first sign of slower internet speeds, tighten the cables that are connected to your cable box and internet gateway — which is a combination modem and router. Over time, cables can become loose, causing your internet signal to leak out.
“All the micromovements of rearranging furniture or even weekly dusting can make the connections loose,” Ponto explains. “It’s a good idea to make sure the connections are snug enough — just using your fingers can tighten them up.”
Keep software and firmware updated
It’s a good feeling when your internet connection is so reliable you never have to give it a second thought. But never needing to power cycle your gateway means you never benefit from the periodic updates that keep your internet running at top speed.
“Just like a phone or a laptop, your internet equipment needs to download updates. Plan to do a power cycle once a month. To do this, simply unplug your gateway from the electrical outlet and wait a minute before plugging back in,” Ponto says. “As your system boots up, it downloads and installs updates automatically.”
Place your gateway front and center
Gone are the days when you feel the need to hide your internet equipment in a closet or behind a sofa. Your gateway is designed to be an attractive part of your home decor, so display it prominently — and experience the benefit of faster internet speeds.
“Where you locate your gateway can affect how far the signal travels,” Ponto says. “To get the strongest and furthest connection, make sure your gateway is in a central, elevated location.” Ponto suggests positioning your equipment on the main floor of your home, probably in a living room, but not in a bookcase or a closed office or next to a window (again, your signal can leak out the window rather than stay inside, where you need it).
Because your internet equipment is part of what runs your home, you can give it the space it deserves and even have it out in the open, on a table — 3 to 4 feet off the ground is ideal.
Kitchen appliances, TVs and cordless phones can interfere with your signal, so position your gateway away from these, as well as away from plaster walls that are reinforced with chicken wire and even marble countertops, Ponto warns.
For a fast internet connection, consider a boost
If your home is large or your home offices and study spaces are in far-off bedrooms or even in the basement, you might benefit from a Wi-Fi extender. Xfinity makes an effective network extender called an xFi Pod, which simply plugs into an electrical outlet. You can download an app to initialize the xFi Pod and turn it on.
The xFi Pod is available on Xfinity’s website or at any Xfinity retail location in metro Detroit and across Michigan. “It gets rave reviews from customers,” Ponto says.
Grant access when it’s needed most
With a little communication, families can ensure that bandwidth is available when it’s needed for that important assignment or video meeting — and give everyone else a break from their devices during key times. If you’re an Xfinity customer, you already have the capability to create and manage profiles for every family member and their devices through the Xfinity xFi app.
A boon for parents who want to have control over their kids’ device usage — and possibly sleep schedule — the xFi app gives you the ability to pause individual devices, set a downtime schedule and establish limits for your kids’ active use of the internet connection.
“Being aware of how you are sharing your bandwidth is helpful. If you know homework is due at a certain time or want to allow video game usage at specific times, you can schedule that through the xFi app,” Ponto explains.
Consider your current plan
There are varying levels of internet plans, so do some research to find out what plan you have and assess whether it serves your needs. You might be surprised when you list all of the devices that require your home network in order to run because for most families, the list extends beyond laptops, tablets and smartphones to include video game consoles, smart speakers, thermostats, security systems and more.
You can view available packages at Xfinity.com, or you can walk into an Xfinity store close to home to talk with experienced advisers who can match you and your many devices to the plan you need, says Ponto. “These are people who love technology and love working with people to fit the right package to their family’s needs,” he says.
Learn more about Xfinity at xfinity.com.