Video conferencing software like Zoom needs a minimum of 800kbps upload and 1.0Mbps download for quality video for a single computer. Each additional computer, tablet, or smartphone that is simultaneously video conferencing will each require more bandwidth, so for example two devices would need 1,600kbps upload and 2.0Mbps download. If this is too confusing, you should be able to contact your ISP's customer support and have them assist you over the phone to determine what is adequate for the number of people in your household.
Most Internet providers offer multiple tiers of bandwidth service, so it's possible you may be able to upgrade your speed, though of course, this usually comes with an increase in monthly payment. If you believe you are NOT getting the speeds you are paying for, schedule a service call with the company to inspect the equipment in your home, as well as their Internet equipment on your street.
Is it time to upgrade the equipment in your home?
It's possible the problem is the Internet equipment like the WIFI router, especially if the equipment is 5 or more years old. If you lease your equipment from a provider like Comcast or Centurylink, you can usually request replacement equipment at little or no charge. Generally speaking, newer equipment can boost the speed and the range of the WIFI signal, and typically supports more connected devices. If you own your own equipment, it may be time to upgrade the hardware too if it's old. There are a number of tech sources online to routinely review wifi hardware, or reach out to a techy friend or family member for guidance.
The problem may be the distance and physical space between the computer and the WiFi router.
An inconsistent Internet connection will occur when there is too much distance between the device and the wifi router, especially if there are walls or other hard surfaces in between. If people closer to the wifi router have better connectivity than others who are farther away, you may be able to improve the quality of the connection by adding another network "repeater" or "extender". This is equipment that connects with the main wifi router to boost the range across a larger area. Almost all Internet Service providers offer these devices to customers for an incremental increase in monthly cost, or you can purchase your own equipment at most electronic stores, though we only recommend you do this if you have the technical skills or have a technology savvy friend.
What if I can't afford to pay for faster Internet speeds?
We understand that not everyone can afford to pay for faster Internet speeds. Here are a few options to consider:
On request, BISD can provide a Kajeet cellular wifi router for students with Internet access problems at no charge. These devices are designed to support a single person and the Internet speed is generally not as robust as ISP broadband services because it is dependent on how close you are to the cellular tower. Families with multiple students can request additional Kajeet devices.
If you are NOT a Comcast customer, you may want to review their "Internet Essentials" package, which offers Internet at a reduced price, but does require that you qualify for the program. Details can be found here.
If you ARE a Comcast customer, you may be able to take advantage of free WIFI (for Comcast customers) at any of their hotspot locations. You can search for a Comcast Xfinity hotspot location here.