After the start of the pandemic, access to high-speed internet quickly became a basic necessity. Participating in business, healthcare, and education now often requires internet access. For online learners — or anyone who supports an online learner — it's frustrating to be digitally disconnected.
Federal data shows that 43% of fourth and eighth graders were in remote learning in early 2021. Twenty-one percent of those students were in hybrid learning at that time. And about 52% of all higher education students took at least one online course in the 2019-2020 academic year.
Is your internet acting up on a day you have an important video call or assignment due? Frustrated? Panicking? Continue reading for suggestions on what to do if you have a bad internet connection.
First, how do you define a good, bad, fast, or slow internet connection?
For speed, the Federal Communications Commission says 25 megabits per second for downloads and 3 Mbps for uploads is the standard. At this speed, the internet should support three users or devices at the same time. You should have the capacity to stream HD video, make video calls, browse web pages or stream a podcast. But the government also acknowledges that this baseline speed is too slow for modern demands.
Next, check your internet speed. It's free, easy, and takes only a few moments. You don't need to download any apps or use special equipment. Simply type "internet speed test" into the search bar of your preferred web browser. You'll get several options back. They include Measurement Lab, Speedtest, and national or regional internet service providers. Running this test is also a good opportunity to verify with your internet service provider that you're getting the level of service you're paying for.
If you're still in panic mode, try running through this five-step checklist:
If those fixes failed to identify or solve your problem, consider an outside approach. These national restaurants and retailers usually offer free, fast Wi-Fi:
In addition, some US libraries lend wireless internet hotspots to anyone with a library account. In Virginia Beach, for example, the city's public library system loans hotspots for three weeks at a time. San Diego public libraries let patrons borrow a Wi-Fi hotspot for 90 days.
Fifth generation wireless technology may improve connectivity for millions.
Also known as 5G, this newest wireless technology may provide a smoother, faster, more reliable digital connection for education. 5G technology may enhance virtual learning and allow students access to more personalized learning experiences.
Connectivity from anywhere is important. In America, younger and lower income adults who have a high school education or less are more likely to rely on a smartphone for internet access. A recent Pew Research report found that 15% of Americans primarily use a smartphone to access the internet. A 2018 report predicted nearly 75% of people globally will use only a smartphone to access the internet in 2025.
In mid January, Verizon and AT&T agreed to limit the activation of 5G service near US airports. The limited introduction is in response to concerns that 5G technology would interfere with some existing aviation safety and navigation technologies. The rollout of 5G technology is expected to continue through the summer.