How adaptive WiFi can solve your WFH woes
by Plume Product TeamNovember 2020
Are you reading this article while working from home? Then you know a thing or two about measuring your commute by rooms instead of miles. And, as a recent global survey shows, for many of us at least some remote work is here to stay. While working virtually has its perks, we've all learned that it also has at least one huge downside: annoying and inexplicable WiFi interruptions.
Why home WiFi goes wonky
Most residential WiFi connectivity is infamously underwhelming. Practically everyone working from home has experienced the frustration of having to reset their WiFi router, or manage the Zoom message letting them know that their internet connection is unstable. So it's not surprising that "WiFi problems" is one of Business Insider's top gripes among remote workers. And outages even happen while you're practically face-to-face with the lit-up buttons on your router. It's embarrassing and confusing. How can WiFi work one minute and go on vacation the next? The answer is that home WiFi systems are susceptible to interference from anything and everything, including the stuff that seems innocuous. Your metal window blinds? Yeah, they're robbing you of stable connectivity. That cement wall between rooms? It's rock-solid and acts like an arbitrary club bouncer, giving WiFi the boot even though it has an ID card, while letting the neighbor's WiFi sneak right past. Even your two-story cat tree is throwing your WiFi signals for a loop. Obviously, you can't remove everything from your house or get the Kool-Aid guy to break through your living room walls. However, you do have options to make your in-home WiFi less wonky and more wonderful.
Mesh WiFi: an attractive but flawed bandaid
One way to win at least some of your WiFi battles is to put mesh WiFi to work for you. Not familiar with the mesh WiFi concept? It's a little like stringing together holiday light strands. When you need another 15 feet of glistening lights, you just plug one strand into the next. The electricity runs through the strands and does its thing. With mesh WiFi, you add access points, sometimes called nodes or modules, throughout your home in the form of adapters. They effectively grab hold of the existing WiFi and amplify it. By boosting the WiFi signal from your home's router, the access points give you a bump-up in consistent connectivity and pass signals from adapter to adapter.
The cons of mesh WiFi
Unfortunately, the signal starts to degrade as it gets farther from the centralized router. Still, it remains stronger than if you were depending upon the router alone. That means if you're trying to close a client deal via a Microsoft Teams videoconference in your renovated third-floor attic, your mesh WiFi will likely reduce the risk of a dropped call, even if the router is two floors beneath your ergonomic chair. To be clear, though, mesh WiFi is far from perfect. It has serious challenges. The first is that all it does is send the same signal along the chain. That's like passing a snowball from one person to another. Eventually, the snowball's going to be much smaller. Another problem with mesh systems is that they are static. In other words, the systems aren't “smart"; they don't learn. It doesn't matter that your teen needs to livestream class from 10:00 a.m. to noon every day, exactly when you always have a big, all-hands-on-deck meeting online. Your mesh WiFi will simply do its thing and make zero adjustments to try to give you both the best experience possible. After all, it's just using the same channel that your router uses, rather than trying to find alternate connections. So if your connection is still lousy... tough cookies. Finally, mesh WiFi isn't changeable. It's programmed a certain way and will follow that way until it's no longer useful. But there's good news: mesh WiFi isn't the only game in town.
Adaptive WiFi: a hero for remote workers everywhere
If you've grown tired of blaming your WiFi network for everything from slow downloads to clunky conference calls, even after implementing a classic mesh WiFi system, you don't have to accept defeat or move to a nearby coffee shop. (Hint: That's not a good idea. The WiFi isn't secure there.) Instead, find out more about the value of adaptive WiFi to your WiFi connectivity. At its evolutionary core, adaptive WiFi relies on the same basic premise as mesh WiFi, but takes the whole arrangement to a much higher level—the clouds. Rather than just transmitting a router's signal from interface to interface, adaptive WiFi systems take the place of routers. As part of HomePass®, Plume offers an adaptive WiFi service called AdaptTM. Similar to mesh WiFi's nodes, Adapt uses pods to deliver WiFi throughout the home. However, that's where the similarity to mesh ends. When internet signals come into your house, Plume's SuperPods® work in tandem to strategically deliver strong, dependable signals throughout the residence. Then, because Adapt is a cloud-based component backed by intuitive software, it begins collecting usage data and processing it minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour. Very soon, the system starts to adapt, hence the name. For example, an adaptive WiFi system like Plume's will learn that you might need a boost of power when your whole family is on devices from 3:00 p.m. to dinnertime each day. To provide that boost, it will seek out other channels so you're not all clogging up the same signal. Adapt can also detect and avoid environmental problems, such as your neighbor's super-strong signal that's trying to outshine yours. You could probably think of Adapt from HomePass as mesh WiFi 2.0. After all, it's the next generation of everything you need to transform your home WiFi into a high-performance asset.
A smarter way to enjoy a smarter work-from-home experience
People everywhere are seeking ways to boost their efficiency and productivity while telecommuting. If you're tired of being at the mercy of a moody modem or grouchy router, give Adapt from Plume HomePass a try. Part of a larger suite of services including cutting edge AI security, access controls, motion awareness, and more, it'll give you a competitive edge while you're toiling away in fluffy socks or a pair of sweats. Just make sure your Zoom shirt is ready for those last-minute meetings with the boss.