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Posted on
08 Apr 2020

ARTICLE: What’s a digital traffic jam? It may be why you’re experiencing slow internet.

With everyone staying at home and working online becoming the new normal, let’s find out what’s actually happening with networks these days. We spoke to Nesakumar Retnasamy, Digi’s Head of Network Engineering to get the answers.

Imagine the network as the Federal Highway in Klang Valley. Now imagine it’s a morning on a working day, and all the data that we send through the network as the vehicles using the highway. What happens when too many cars drive on the same highway at the same time? This is a familiar scenario for most of us, and we know this fondly to be a traffic jam.

This same traffic jam also happens in the digital world, particularly when too much data traffic hits the internet at one go.

Generally, all parts of the network are designed to meet user expectations in a normal situation, with a view to prepare for emergencies. Each upgrade and enhancement work done to the network involves a significant investment, so the network is built to perform and deliver a good user experience for the average amount of traffic running on it. However, with the current Movement Control Order (MCO) more people are accessing the internet from home and at more hours during the day. This may result in increased internet traffic which means that the possibility of a digital ‘traffic jam’ may also rise significantly for both mobile and fixed networks.

Love your neighbor, but maybe not their routers

Slower connectivity could be attributed to your WiFi router at home, as it may be working poorly due to interference from nearby routers, for example, if you live in a condominium complex where each unit will most probably have their own router. Then it doesn’t matter if the condominium has a high-speed fiber connection, as the actual user experience may have much lower data speeds because the router is not functioning at its full capacity due to the interference.

Killing two birds with one stone? Not!

Sometimes doing more than one thing simultaneously online will also slow down your internet. For example, if your children are playing online games, spouse is streaming a movie while you’re on a video conference, your browsing experience may be slower.

But no fear, there’s things you can do to avoid internet congestions!

Like what we normally do to avoid using the Federal Highway during peak hours, we can do the same by avoiding heavy network usage during peak hours to have a smoother internet experience.

Many of us are working within the exact same office hours and for others, using the internet for entertainment or learning, and this may pose a challenge. However, there are small adjustments that all of us can do to help ease up the stress we put on the networks. There are some quick and easy ways to lighten the data usage load.

Take home office for example, you can help by limiting or better yet not use the video function during your online meetings. Instead, use only the audio and presentation function.

For mobile video streaming, you can try to reduce the streaming or video quality from Full HD (1080) to Standard HD (720) and you will roughly reduce your load on the network by 40%.

If you love streaming music, a neat trick would be to download albums and playlists to listen to offline. It works for movies too, that’s of course if you have room on your device.

Stopping the autoplay and preload functions for videos and photos on your social media apps are also a good help.

Gaming may be a fun past time, but it does make it tough for the network. You may want to consider scheduling your rendezvous with your favourite online game when other network users are not so active, such as during the day on weekends or late evenings. You would be doing a big favour to those who are working or learning remotely by freeing up the bandwidth in the daytime.

Another great idea is to plan your online activities together as a family. For example, instead of using multiple devices to watch 5 different online movies at the same time, why not watch a movie together? Just like how carpooling helps reduce traffic congestion by lessening the number of cars on the road.

Try these tips now

Truth be told, all of us may have experienced slow internet at one time or another. The good news is that there are ways within our control that we can do to ensure that we have a good internet experience.

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