Optimizing my home network for Remote Work

Recently, I completely revamped our home network and the performance for everything has skyrocketed.  Ping times, bandwidth/speed, network reach/range, responsiveness… everything.

These are the steps I took:

UPGRADE INTERNET SERVICE
I upgraded our cable Internet plan from “100Mbps/10Mbps” to “400Mbps/20Mbps”.  Most days I see 480Mbps (!) which leads me to believe that that bandwidth is actually 500Mbps but they only guarantee 400) Total cost: $10/mo increase.

IMPLEMENT PERFORMANCE-BASED MESH NETWORK ROUTER
I replaced the Asus single hub router, with a 3-module, Eero Pro Wifi Router.  Beside having “5 bar” coverage across my entire home, performance against the 400Mbps connection is literally perfect as I usually see a ~480Mbps. This is because the Eero Pro, designed for performance, has one channel for communicating with PCs/tablets/endpoints & a SEPARATE channel that it uses for hub-to-hub mesh network communications.  This was about $270 but well worth it.

DEPLOY MICROSOFT EDGE
I installed this on every machine on my network.  This browser is soooo much faster than Chrome and Internet Explorer.  Edge leverages the same HTML rendering & Javascript engines as Chrome does so it’s 100% compatible with Chrome web site but the “Google Analytics tracking” services that monitor your browsing have all been removed, leaving a faster browsing experience.

IMPLEMENT “OPEN DNS”
Replacing the lousy DNS server that the cable company uses with OpenDNS makes browsing so much snappier and immediate.  Click on links is now almost instantaneous compared to the 1-2 second pauses per click.  Everything is “snappier”:  It’s crazy that a free service can improve your overall browsing speed so much.

OPTIMIZE FOR VOICE/CONFERENCE CALLS & BAND STEERING
Modern network devices have modes that will do a few nice things to maintain a good network connection:

  • Prioritize (also known as QoS or Quality of Service) voice and video conference call communications.  The Eero Pro has this capability they call Eero Labs “Optimize for Conferencing and Gamiing”.
  • Encourage devices on the network to use 5Ghz instead of 2.4Ghz.  2.4Ghz is easily interrupted by microwave ovens, appliances, and other devices disrupting phone calls.  The Eero Pro has a capability called “Band Steering” which tells devices to use the 5Ghz band instead if they can.

RESETPLUG
This is something I’ve actually had for a while but it’s worth mentioning:  When Cable Internet goes down, it’s usually because something has gone wrong with the cable modem’s connection, but sometimes’s it’s the router as well and they need a reboot.

The ResetPlug is a simple device that plugs into a AC power outlet, and you connect your mode+WiFi router into it for power.  You program it and it pings a web site every 5min:  If it can reach the site, it shuts off power, waits 30 seconds, then powers everything back on and tries again in 5min.  It repeats this process until a solid Internet connection is established.

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