Hargray Holidays: Your Eyes might be Bigger than Your Home Network’s Stomach

Dinner tables often overflow during the holidays. Appetizers and drinks, main courses and sides, and the desserts. So. Many. Desserts. It’s likely you found yourself having a little bit of everything until you couldn’t have another bite. OK, one more… But that’s it. You’re done and you can’t eat anymore.

That’s how your network feels.

Connected devices — from phones, tablets and laptops to TVs, watches and refrigerators — were a big part of holiday shopping in 2016. You’ve likely got a few more in your home this year, and that “few more” is starting to take a toll on your network. Your network is trying to service every device (often at the same time), but there’s just too much on its plate. It slows down and can’t have another byte.

The demand for connected devices is soaring, which means the network that supports them has to grow, too. The more devices you have, the more your bandwidth is divided up. Each device has less bandwidth available, and that means a slower internet experience for everyone. Some devices like TVs, gaming consoles and other live-streaming platforms command a lot of bandwidth, while smaller devices get pushed to the side.

Think about it for a second. How many internet-connected devices are in your home right now?

The average home now uses at least seven connected devices every day, with the high end at about 15. The difference now is the number of previously unconnected devices like refrigerators and security systems that are becoming more common. You can turn your lights on and off, lock your doors, preheat your oven and check in on your kids through apps, and consumers are taking advantage.

So, before you get stuck up a data stream without a paddle, it’s important to know how much speed you need and how to get the most out of your WiFi connection. First, gauge your current speed by using our speed calculator. If it looks like you should have enough speed for your needs but you’re not seeing the results, there are a number of factors that could be holding your WiFi back. Take a look at our WiFi Education page for info on how to free up your signal.

But, if you find your appetite for connected devices is too great for your current connection, then it’s time to upgrade. And when you do, keep in mind that this trend is only starting. We’re not saying your sneakers will start yelling at you for not running fast enough or that your cat’s litter box will send you an urgent text message, but we’re not not saying that either.

Fact is, more devices will be connected next year, and you’ll need a network that has the stomach for it.