Stay-At-Home Traffic Jamming Your Home Network?

The Stay-At-Home Advisory has really put a strain on… home networks. We’re only half kidding. Social distancing is really difficult. On top of that, people are realizing their home network can’t handle the sudden increase in traffic and activity, which is causing extra frustration. And no one needs added frustration right now.

Today’s home networks are mainly wireless, but the equipment that service providers use isn’t designed to handle multiple, simultaneous connections to the same access point. When an entire family is using the Wi-Fi at the same time, it downgrades each connection point.

Think of the bridges to Cape Cod. Only so many cars can get through at once. In light, off-season traffic, it’s not a big deal. But when summer comes, it’s a huge inconvenience. A home network is the same. Parents and students all working from home at once is like 4th of July weekend. Using the right equipment is like having four bridges plus a couple tunnels.

If your home network is more than three years old, it would likely benefit from an upgrade. Once equipment is three years old, it usually can’t get the software updates it needs. Older hardware also can’t keep pace with the higher speeds ISPs offer today.

Another reason homeowners may want to improve their network is if they live in an area that doesn’t have great cellular coverage. When you don’t have good coverage, using Wi-Fi dialing can greatly improve the quality of cell phone calls.

What Can Homeowners Do?

A first step homeowners can take is to make sure they have the most current modem offered by their service provider. Newer modems have much higher bandwidth offerings. If your cable modem hasn’t been replaced in a couple years, now is the time.

Homeowners can also check their network speed. Fast.com is a great site to use for a quick network speed test.

Some things that signal it’s time for an upgrade include:

  • A Wi-Fi signal that’s strong in some rooms but weak (or non-existent) in others
  • Video/streamed content that buffers, lags or downgrades from high definition to standard definition
  • Wireless speakers that just stop playing
  • Weak signals, slow connections and dead zones
  • Signal dropout (when you lose connections)
  • Audio dropout during video calls and meetings

ACT installs secure home networks that provide a strong signal throughout a home and property, and can handle the household’s traffic. ACT also installs managed networks, which allow homeowners on mobile devices to walk throughout a home and property without losing a signal.

If you are experiencing performance issues or think your home network needs an upgrade, please call us at 781-741-5959 to discuss your needs. You can also fill out our contact form at https://www.actces.com/contact/. Consultations are always free of charge.

Staying Safe in a Connected World

The recent stories in the news about Ring cameras being hacked – or accessed – are scary. We feel this is a great time for some reminders about security.

Take a minute to think about how many Internet-connected devices are in your home. According to research from Parks Associates, US broadband households now own more than 10 connected devices. It’s important to have a safe home network.

The wired and wireless home networks ACT provides clients are secure. This means Internet-connected devices in their home are behind a firewall and can’t be accessed from the outside.

In the case of Ring cameras being hacked, there are other possible ways it could happen, even with a secure home network. We advise clients (and everyone) to follow these safety “rules:”

  • Don’t use unsecured public networks
  • Don’t use public networks for anything important
  • Never enter user names and passwords – or any personal information – on a public network
  • If your laptop or device offers security settings for public networks, turn them on / check the box
  • Enable two-factor authentication whenever it’s an option
  • For apps, devices, etc. shared by family members, don’t share login credentials when there’s an option for individual users
  • Use strong passwords and change them regularly
  • Educate yourself to recognize phishing attempts

If you’d like to have a secure home network installed, or you’re experiencing performance issues with your network, give us a call at 781-741-5959 to discuss your needs. Consultations are always free of charge.

Has Traffic Slowed to a Crawl on Your Home Network?

Is the Wi-Fi signal in your home strong in some rooms but weak (or non-existent) in others? When you stream movies or TV shows, does the video buffer, lag or downgrade to SD? Do your Sonos speakers just stop playing? These are all signs that your home network is not up to snuff.

Many homeowners ACT speaks with experience wireless network issues. Other common problems include weak signals, slow connections and deadzones.

If a home network is more than five years old, it probably can’t handle the traffic of an average family. Households are connecting more and more devices to the Internet. Phones, tablets, laptops, printers, gaming consoles, streaming devices, speakers, lighting, cameras, thermostats and even appliances all compete with each other for bandwidth.

ACT installs wireless and wired networks that provide a strong signal throughout a home and property. ACT also installs managed networks, which allow homeowners on mobile devices to walk throughout a home and property without losing a signal.

If you are experiencing performance issues or think your home network needs an upgrade, contact ACT to discuss your needs. Consultations are always free of charge.

What Is Home Theater, Anyway?

When you think about technology in the home, does the term home theater come to mind? Home theater is a phrase that’s used a lot when it comes to residential custom electronics. But what does it really mean? Some people use it as a broad term to describe TV and movie viewing at home, while other people envision a private movie theater. The short answer is that home theater is both of those things.

At ACT, we usually use the terms dedicated home theater and media room. A dedicated home theater is just what it sounds like – a room with the sole purpose of providing an outstanding viewing and listening experience. A dedicated home theater is a room with a large screen, a great audio system, comfortable seating and often other fun features like theater lighting, a popcorn maker or a wet bar.

Most families today prefer a media room to a home theater. A multipurpose media room provides the best of both worlds – the stunning visuals, exciting audio and comfy seating of a theater in your family room or living area.

A lot of families like the idea of a media room, but balk at the thought of unsightly equipment in their living spaces. The technology for a media room can actually be hidden fairly easily. For example, if you’d prefer a large flat screen display to be hidden when you’re not using it, media mirrors, special artwork or custom cabinetry can be used. Speakers and sub-woofers can be placed discreetly, and components can be hidden in cabinetry or housed in an out-of-sight equipment rack. Take a look at the portfolio pages on our web site for examples of hidden technology.

When deciding what you want in the way of home theater, there are a few things to think about first. At ACT, we work with homeowners to choose the best solutions based on things like what they like to watch, who will be watching, how they think they’ll use the space, the size, shape and ceiling height of the space and of course, their budget. The size and shape of a room and your own preferences will lead to the right decisions about screen size and type, audio options and the components that will (or won’t) make up your system.

If you’d like to learn more about what would work in your home and what can be done within your budget, we’d love to come take a look and discuss options with you. Consultations are always free of charge.