This article first appeared in Property Week
As many UK workers currently sit at home and try to virtually recreate their work environment, politicians and businesses need to ask how we remain a world-leading country and economy after Brexit and the impact of Covid-19.
Digital infrastructure needs to be at the heart of this debate as wired and wireless technologies, products and services will underpin the future of the economy, and it’s crucial the UK is prepared for it.
The internet has driven much of our personal and professional lives, and will increasingly continue to do so in the current climate, with a huge majority of the country working from home. Never before have we been so reliant on an effective digital infrastructure to allow us to video-call, chat and download files from our work servers. This brings into sharp focus the importance of good connectivity as businesses rely on this to remain operational.
It’s unsurprising that connectivity came to the fore of Boris Johnson’s legislative agenda with his policy to bring full-fibre broadband to every home in the UK by 2025 and £5bn worth of investment to help reach its 2025 target announced in the Budget this month.
According to a recent survey of 1,000 SMEs, the average worker could waste up to 72 minutes daily because of unreliable internet connections and tech issues. Implementing the digital infrastructure to deliver full-fibre broadband will help increase productivity and retain the UK’s position as a world-leading digital economy. But will the government’s new digital infrastructure programme achieve its ambitions, and what will it mean for the property industry?
Achieving the 2025 full-fibre target will be a big step forward for the UK on its road to a tech-driven economy. Becoming a world leader requires more than full-fibre alone as 5G networks for the next generation of mobile connectivity will also need to be prepared for.
What’s more, the current policy programme is focused on improving access for rural consumers who suffer from poor connectivity. But it’s not only rural areas that need support; many urban areas also suffer from poor connectivity – Southwark Council was required to put in place a Digital Infrastructure Strategy in order to tackle broadband speeds as low as 0.26Mbps in Rotherhithe.
Most employees are simply unable to work at all without the internet. Connectivity in rural areas needs addressing and improving, but this should not be at the expense of urban, high-density environments.
So how can the property industry stay ahead of the curve on connectivity? Landlords will need to design their digital infrastructure to ensure that not only today’s but tomorrow’s needs are met. A collaborative approach from all stakeholders – mobile operators, internet service providers and government – is necessary to meet the 2025 target.
The 2018 Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review laid out a powerful masterplan for the core telecoms infrastructure we need to connect Britain. It should be fully implemented, including the core fibre infrastructure to enable mobile and broadband internet nationally. When the future of high-speed connectivity is so critical to our economic future, we must make sure our digital infrastructure is fit for purpose.
Last year, a WiredScore survey found that 85% of people experienced issues with their internet at home. As the world transitions to working from home, we wanted to share some handy tips on how to ensure you’re getting the best internet possible.
Download a PDF version of the guide here
So what can you do to improve your internet?
Start by testing your connection speed on Fast.com or Speedtest by Ookla. This will tell you the download speed you are experiencing, and, if you click “Show more info” on Fast.com, you will also see your upload speed.
If your speed test gives you a number that is significantly different from what your Internet Service Provider (ISP) advertised, try moving closer to your router, or carry out the same test over a wired connection by connecting your laptop to your router with a network cable. If this does not improve your speed, get in touch with your ISP.
OfCom in the UK have produced a useful guide to help people understand the approximate speeds required for different online activities.
If you’re getting a good speed when testing your internet over a wired connection, it is likely that it’s your Wi-Fi connection that is causing speed issues. This could be a result of wireless interference between you and your router or wireless access point.
So what can you do to fix this?
If you’ve been on the same package for a number of years, the chances are you can get a newer router with better speed and coverage. Call your Internet Service Provider and see if they can offer you a new router – a number of them will do this for free.
Consider physically moving your router/wireless access point closer to where you’re working. This Huffington Post article has some good tips on ensuring this is centrally located and not blocked by any walls or devices.
Your Internet Service Provider may also offer a troubleshooting guide on their website or mobile app. Some even offer tools such as “Wi-Fi Optimisers” to help fine-tune how well your network performs.
Change your router settings – but be careful when doing it. There is a risk of bringing the whole network down and phone support can be hard to follow. But, if you do decide to explore this, access to your router settings can be gained by going to a web address (also known as a URL) that is printed on the back of the router itself. This URL may be a string of numbers, such as 192.168.10.1, and can be entered into your internet browser just like any other web address. There will also be a username and password printed on the back of the router.
When changing your router settings:
Pick the right network: Most routers have the ability to broadcast two wireless networks; 2.4GHz and 5GHz. Whilst the 2.4GHz network gives you better range, the 5GHz network provides higher speed, or bandwidth, at shorter distances and is less congested (this is because 2.4GHz is used by most networks including the microwave). Your router may already be broadcasting both and give you the option to choose one over the other. If it doesn’t, you should be able to use different names for the two networks by going into the basic settings of your router. This will help you recognise which network you are connected to, and prioritise the 5GHz network for your work devices (e.g. laptop and phone).
Select the right channel: The networks used by people around you often cause congestion and interference with your signal. You can download free software like Wi-Fi Analyzer for Windows to see all the networks nearby and what channel they use. If your network overlaps, consider switching to a less congested channel. You may be able to conduct this scan directly when logged into your router. Once you have identified the best option, select the appropriate channel within your router settings to ensure there are minimal overlapping networks.
Newer routers will allow you to prioritise devices. This may, for example, allow you to ensure that your laptop is prioritised for speed over other devices such as games consoles.
It’s also worth checking if there are any firmware or software updates available for your router – this will likely lead to performance and security enhancements.
If you are still experiencing Wi-Fi issues after taking the actions above, consider using a Powerline solution or installing a Wi-Fi mesh network.
Powerline: Powerline uses your home’s electrical circuit to transmit your internet signal between two points through the house. For example, you could install one adapter next to your router and another next to your working position, and the network will use the electrical circuit as if it was a physical network cable between the two adapters. Tech Radar has a list of the top 5 to help you decide.
Wi-Fi Mesh Network: Mesh networks use multiple wireless access points to transmit Wi-Fi signal to hard-to-reach places in your home. The multiple access points can be positioned around your home, and will connect to each other wirelessly to boost signal. A number of hardware manufacturers such as Google, Amplifi, Eero and Linksys have mesh Wi-Fi products, however check with your ISP first, as some offer them free of charge to customers. PCMag have published a list of their top 10 Wi-Fi mesh extenders.
If you are experiencing issues with speed, you may find that your mobile provider offers you a better service in the interim.
Most modern smartphones give you the option to hotspot from them. This creates a portable Wi-Fi network which you can connect to. On the iPhone this can be found by going to Settings → Personal Hotspot.
Note: This will use up your mobile data package and additional charges may apply if you go over your allowance.
If you find that your mobile connection is the best way of accessing the internet, you may want to consider buying a dedicated mobile hotspot and contract from your mobile operator.
However if you have a stable broadband connection through your home internet, we would recommend that you don’t use your mobile hotspot as your main internet connection. This is because it can cause delay (latency) issues when using video conferencing software.
Should you have poor mobile signal, and trouble making and receiving calls, some smartphones and mobile networks will allow you to make calls over Wi-Fi. On an iPhone this can be enabled by going to Settings → Phone → Wi-Fi Calling. You can follow similar steps on Android devices.
It’s possible to increase your bandwidth by using Wi-Fi and your mobile network concurrently. This also gives you a backup connection should there be issues with your broadband connection while working. Speedify is one redundancy service which can provide this.
Download a PDF version of the guide here.
Across the world, Sunday 8th March marks International Women’s Day. This year’s theme #EachforEqual highlights women’s achievements across the world, and draws attention to the difference and impact individuals can make.
First celebrated in 1911 across Austria, Switzerland, Germany and Denmark – the initial idea of marking a day to celebrate women across the globe came from a woman called Clara Zetkin. It was made official by the United Nations in 1975 and has been growing in momentum ever since.
This year, we are celebrating the women that have inspired us one way or another. The mothers, the grandmothers, friends, and peers, every single one of these women has had an impact on our lives one way or another, and today – we are bringing you a collection of stories and quotes of the women that have inspired the team here at WiredScore.
It might sound cheesy, but I think I have the best mom ever. Behind all the kindness and tenderness and her little cute voice, she is an incredibly tough woman who raised my sister and me to become strong, independent women.
During our childhood, she told us that we could do anything we want. Do you want to do kickboxing instead of dancing? Sure. There are only boys in your kickboxing class? Show them how strong you are and become the best in the class!
More recently, she pushed me to move into England to pursue the career I deserve and not settle for less. I would never have done it without her and my dad’s support.
My mum gave everything she had for her daughters, now it is her turn, and it’s time for my sister and me to give everything we have to support her in her career change, to push her to be a little selfish and think about her own happiness. She raised us to be strong and independent. This job is done, thank you, mum!
I’m fascinated by Ruth Bader Ginsburg; she’s an artist for strategically advancing women’s rights.
She is very skilled at stating her points calmly and logically, making it difficult for opponents of her vision (both in the courtroom and the wider public) to derail the debate. In doing so, Ruth has continually increased her influence while avoiding the danger of being marginalised and silenced.
It would have been too easy for Ruth to have been dismissed by her peers as too disruptive, but her empathy and patience has instead allowed her to navigate through a hostile environment for over 50 years and make a lasting difference.
Another inspiration for me is Chidera Eggerue because she is perceptive and unapologetic in her views on equality. I find Ruth’s long term strategies interesting, but I am also really inspired by Chidera’s day to day unbridled championing of commonly overlooked groups. I look forward to checking her Instagram every morning.
Most recently I have been very inspired by our Director of Partnerships Cassandra Wheeldon. This is because she worked so hard through her pregnancy to ensure a successful handover for the team and to our clients.
Despite some days being in a lot of back pain and other things that come with pregnancy, Cassie never complained and came into the office, smiled and got through her work which was a real inspiration to me!
I have been most inspired by my great-grandmother who I had the privilege of having in my life until my mid 20’s. An incredible woman; kind, tough, intelligent and extremely mischievous.
There’s a story that’s told about her in our family. She was a young woman during WW2 in Estonia, a time when the country was split by war between Germany and Russia. At the age of 18, pregnant and mother to a toddler, she sent her husband off to war. Thanks to her charm and intelligence, she had become an integral member of the town council, advising the Russian soldiers on the happenings in her town, a job which allowed her to gain insight into the enemies’ plans.
She’d been liaising with a group of Estonian rebels on a plan to pass through the woods near her town with local men, women & children also in tow, escaping from the war. On the evening of the plan, she discovered that the Russian soldiers had heard rumours about the escape and were planning to investigate further. Quick thinking and courage on her side, she pretended her waters broke and went into pretend labour in an attempt to distract the soldiers. Thankfully she succeeded, and as a result, saved over 100 lives from death or deportation to Siberia. A pretty kick-ass woman if I say so myself.
Personally, my mum inspires me for not only raising me with the most important values and beliefs and never being a mum who expects me to be something I’m not, but also for her incredible work ethic and passion for what she does.
For the last twenty years, she has focused her career on helping the less privileged, which she does out of pure passion. Currently a Youth Worker, her job is at constant risk from funding cuts despite how vital and valuable her work is, and she has never had the financial stability or job security she would have if she had taken a different career path. She works unsociable hours in an often thankless job, but she always perseveres and goes above and beyond what is expected of her.
I know the impact my mum has had as she was recently nominated for an award in our borough Havering, and from the regular phone calls she gets from the young people she helps who see her as the first person they want to turn to when they are in need of help, or just a friendly chat.
My great aunt Herta Baitch – so, my grandfather’s brother’s wife – is one of the few living Holocaust survivors we still have. She was born in Austria and lost both her parents in the war.
She was lucky, one of 9 children chosen to go to the US in 1940, first to New York and then Baltimore, where my family is from and I grew up. She had a bit of a bad fall earlier this year but is doing much better after receiving rehab on her hip.
You can watch her story from the US Holocaust Memorial Museum below.