Months into the lockdown of the very first city from a strange new illness we now know as Covid-19, it is evident that working from home is set to be the new normal for the foreseeable future. While some cities have relaxed their measures or even allow workers to head back to the office, the situation remains fluid with the possibility of further lockdowns or restrictions to come.

Suddenly, the Internet connection at home is no longer a good to have but a must-have. Users are also concerned about having adequate bandwidth and ensuring the reliability of their Internet connectivity.

Congestion on the digital highway

As noted by Manish Pant and Steven Carlini of Schneider Electric, the Internet was not originally built for human communications, but for time-sharing. The objective was to make it possible for research institutions to leverage the processing power of still rare computers from other institutions when they need the computing oomph to perform large calculations.

The situation has evolved substantially since the early days. In today’s pandemic hit cities, students and working professionals relying on the Internet to access school assignments and get work done. And while peak use time for home broadband used to start around 6 to 7 in the evening – when people usually got home, it now starts at 11 in the morning or earlier to mirror a traditional workday.

Aside from obvious culprits such as a glitchy wireless router or excessive wireless interference stemming from a poor configuration, the main culprit of network congestion would be none other than the uploading and downloading of videos. Video demand isn’t driven by YouTubers or Instagram videos either but by demands of video conferencing applications from Zoom to Google Hangouts.

Here is a short breakdown.

  • Netflix: 0.7 GB/hr to 7GB/hr (Standard definition, ultra-high definition)
  • Zoom: 1GB/hr to 2.4GB/hr (720p 1:1 call, 1080p group call)
  • Spotify: 40MB/hr to 150MB/hr (Normal quality, extreme quality)
  • Gaming: 40MB/hr to 300MB/hr

Protecting the home network

Of course, users with fast home broadband connectivity might never encounter network congestion worth mentioning. In those situations, they will be much more concerned with potential disruption to their Internet access. Indeed, two recent home broadband outages in Singapore illustrates this point, as dissatisfied customers culminated in a quick promise of service rebates.

While there is very little that one can do if the source of the problem lies with their broadband providers, users can take steps to guarantee power protection for their network. The easiest way to do that is to hook up crucial networking systems to a UPS, or uninterruptible power supply from a brand such as from APC by Schneider Electric – Schneider Electric also offers a full range of UPS for industrial application.

Depending on the equipment used, the equipment to be protected typically consists of an Internet modem and wireless router. Of course, if you are getting a UPS, then it is worth ensuring that you get one with an adequate number of ports for your appliances. And while it is less common for consumers currently, newer UPS models might also offer lithium-ion batteries with a substantially longer lifespan of up to seven years of fuss-free operation.

Check this article for help picking the right UPS for your home, or a more detailed guide from Schneider Electric here.

Article by Michael Kurniawan, Vice President, Secure Power Division, Singapore-Malaysia-Brunei, Schneider Electric