In today’s connected world, it’s almost unthinkable to function without an internet connection, and for practical purposes most households need wireless connectivity for everyone to fully enjoy their internet-enabled devices. These tips may help boost the quality and speed of your home Wi-Fi network.
5 Ways to Boost Home Wi-Fi
(Family Features) In today’s connected world, it’s almost unthinkable to function without an internet connection, and for practical purposes most households need wireless connectivity for everyone to fully enjoy their internet-enabled devices, including smartphones, laptops, tablets, televisions, thermostats, security cameras and even refrigerators.
However, with the growing number of devices requiring access to your network, and in some cases even the quality of the connection itself, there can be limitations to your Wi-Fi network’s performance. The problem can be compounded by the reality that increased reliance on Wi-Fi networks isn’t just in your own home or office, it’s around the globe.
Some groups, such as WifiForward, are advocating for increased connectivity across America, including greater access to unlicensed spectrum, which are radio frequencies that consumers can use for a wide range of purposes, including Wi-Fi. Ultimately, greater access to unlicensed spectrum can result in benefits like more reliable connections and super-fast “Gigabit Wi-Fi,” as well as cost-effective wireless broadband for unconnected urban and rural areas.
In the meantime, these tips may help boost the quality and speed of your home Wi-Fi network.
Use up-to-date Wi-Fi technologies. It won’t matter what other steps you take to improve your network performance if you’re using old technology. Be sure your devices and router are all compatible with the latest network capabilities. Equipment that runs the latest Wi-Fi standard, 802.11ac, is ideal if you’re using multiple devices.
Improve network security. Be sure to regularly update your password and enable WPA2 encryption, which offers greater security.
Know that location matters. Placing your router in an open, centralized area is likely to create a better access point throughout the house. Be wary of walls and other obstructions than can hinder a clear signal transmission throughout the house. An ethernet cable and cable clips are all you need to move your router from its connecting point to a more signal-friendly location.
Reboot your router regularly. Like many devices, an occasional reboot can help improve function. A router that is continually running is processing a great deal of data and even in normal operation some data can become corrupt. A reboot can dump those errors and allow you to resume operations with a clean slate, so to speak.
Update your connected devices. Each device that is actively connected to your network depletes available bandwidth. When a device’s operating system is out-of-date, it can become a data hog, impacting the performance of the other devices you have connected in your home. Check regularly for software and connectivity updates to improve speeds and maximize your experience.
Learn more about constraints of the nation’s current Wi-Fi airwaves and possible solutions at WifiForward.org.
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(BPT) - Bluetooth technology is steadily expanding the role of modern hearing aids from tiny marvels that make use of artificial intelligence to process sound into true, state-of-the-art multimedia hubs now capable of two-way communication.
The primary goal of hearing aids has always been to improve speech understanding. While this hasn’t changed, manufacturers are now building Bluetooth technology directly into the most advanced hearing aid microchips. This lets consumers directly connect to virtually any wireless electronic device, eliminating the need to wear a body-worn accessory.
Let’s take a brief look at how the latest Bluetooth hearing aids are transforming the way we live.
They can now directly connect to any Bluetooth-enabled phone
According to Dr. Elizabeth Thompson, director of business development and veterans affairs at Phonak, previous generations of hearing aids could only directly connect to an iPhone, which greatly limited people’s options.
“Pew Research Center found only 33 percent of American smartphone owners used an iPhone while a whopping 66 percent used the Android operating system,” said Thompson. “Furthermore, another study showed 38 percent of all Americans over age 65 still use a classic flip phone. Until now, there has never been a Bluetooth hearing aid that was truly made for all devices and allowed universal connectivity — including the ability to directly connect to an iPhone, an Android device (e.g., Samsung, LG), or even a classic flip phone that is Bluetooth-ready.”
Bluetooth hearing aids enable truly hands-free calls
The latest Bluetooth hearing aids allow you to answer a phone call with a simple press of a button on the hearing aid. Built-in microphones on the hearing aids themselves feature automatic voice pickup, allowing people to have two-way conversations through their hearing aids. Thompson stated this is the first time this has ever been done with hearing aids.
“This is indeed the first time a hearing aid wearer can have a true hands-free conversation without having to touch the phone at all,” she said. “This is especially convenient in the car, where your phone may be in a pocket or purse, or if you need to have a conversation while leaving your phone on the table or countertop, for example if you’re cooking.”
They stream wireless stereo sound directly from your TV
According to research firm Statista, Americans spend an average of 4.5 hours per day watching TV. And if you are or live with someone who has hearing loss, you probably know that sometimes the volume of the TV can become an issue.
“With a card-sized TV Connector, hearing aid wearers simply plug the device into the back of the TV,” added Thompson. “The ‘plug and play’ TV Connector instantly pairs with Bluetooth hearing aids, allowing viewers to stream high-fidelity TV sound in-stereo at their preferred volume level, independent of other viewers. Wearers have reported a markedly better experience in understanding dialogue, especially when the person on TV is talking fast.”
Bluetooth hearing aids are available right now
While all of these new advances may sound like the future, hearing aids with built-in Bluetooth technology are available today. For more information, visit tryphonak.com or find a licensed hearing care professional who has been specially trained in fitting the latest hearing aid technology.
(BPT) - It's easy to be overwhelmed when it comes to choosing a cellphone provider. Everyone claims to offer the best, cheapest and most comprehensive service. It can be especially baffling for seniors who, despite boundless wisdom elsewhere, may be newcomers to this technology.
When you boil it down, it's actually fairly simple. You need two things: a device that does what you need it to do, and a way to connect that device to a reliable wireless network. And there's no reason you shouldn't get it all at a price you can afford.
It's all about the phone.
The type of phone you choose will determine everything else you need. Will you use it primarily to make and receive calls? Do you want to send and receive text messages? Will you be searching the internet or using social media?
Familiarize yourself with the types of phones on the market, and decide which is the best fit. Cellphones range from simple models offering basic call-and-text functions to sophisticated smartphones, capable of performing a mind-boggling array of tasks. Make sure you're getting what you really need, and don't tie yourself to something you'll quickly outgrow.
Coverage is key.
Your cellphone is only as good as the network it connects to. Before you sign up for service, you'll want to be sure a provider can deliver coverage to the places you'll be using your phone the most.
While most providers display general coverage maps in their retail stores or on their website, distinctively local things can impact cellphone reception. Your home's building materials may create interference, or tall buildings standing between your neighborhood and the nearest cellphone tower could disrupt the signal.
Rather than relying solely on a map, ask around. Check if your neighbors are happy with the quality of their cellular service. Or have friends make calls from your house to hear what the reception and sound quality are like. This could go a long way toward narrowing your choices.
Minutes, texts and data: Solving the plan puzzle.
The last piece of the puzzle will be deciding what type of monthly service to sign up for. Cellphone plans are packaged in a dizzying array of formats, but there are three basic types.
Contract plans bound you to a carrier for a fixed term, usually two years. This means if you're dissatisfied, there's no opportunity to change until the contract expires without paying a significant penalty. Prepaid plans allow you to buy a fixed amount of minutes, texts and data, and use them until they run out. At that point you'll have no service until you purchase more.
No contract, post-paid plans offer a nice mix of both. There's no long-term agreement, so you can make changes without penalties. Unless you cancel, your plan renews month-to-month, so there's no worry about running out of minutes and losing your service. There are even special rates just for seniors: Consumer Cellular, who specialize in wireless service for users over 50, offers exclusive discounts to AARP members.
Avoid surprises on your bill.
Before you sign up, ask about any penalties or hidden fees that may apply. Some carriers charge a fee just to activate your service. On contract plans, you're required to pay a hefty "early termination fee" if you cancel your service early. Find out up front to avoid being ambushed later on.
Whatever you choose, your monthly bill should be straightforward and understandable. You should be able to tell at a glance what period of time the bill covers, what your monthly charge is for accessing the carriers network, the cost of your monthly plan (and what it includes), plus any applicable taxes or fees.
Put yourself in charge.
Shopping for the best deal on your cellphone service is no different than shopping for a dishwasher or an automobile. No one knows better than you do what your needs are.
Just remember: there's no shortage of wireless carriers in the market, and they're all vying for your business. Use this advantage wisely - do your homework, ask questions and don't be afraid to walk away if you don't get the answers you want.
(BPT) - You don’t need an expert to tell you: America is hooked on the internet. Just try to think of the last day you didn’t use the web in some way.
But you probably don’t think much about the main way the internet is delivered: through WiFi. It powers your computer at work — as well as the Facebook feed you’re discreetly checking under your desk. At home, it’s the new electricity. Netflix, Hulu, and Pandora rely on it. It powers activities on your smartphone, unless you want to rack up a huge data bill from your carrier. WiFi runs the kids’ Xbox and maybe even your thermostat and security camera — these days, almost every device in the home is thirsty for WiFi.
When you do think about WiFi, it’s usually because it’s not working — and driving you nuts. Before investing in a more expensive internet package or living with buffering videos and router resets, here are three do-it-yourself ways to improve your home WiFi:
Move your router
If you have rooms that don’t have access to the internet — dead zones — first try moving your router to a more central location in the home. Because routers have a limited range, it’s important that your router is in a central area. If you can’t move the router to a different location, try elevating it on a table or shelf to spread the signal more efficiently.
Large metal appliances, like refrigerators, and electronics that emit radio waves, like microwaves, can interfere with your network’s signal. Keeping the router out of places like the kitchen can help bolster the range and speed of your WiFi.
Upgrade to a mesh network
Most households rely on a single router. But with the steep increase in home internet usage, one WiFi router may not be adequate to support all the devices connected to it.
A San Francisco company, eero, was the first to bring a mesh WiFi system into the home. eero — which is about as simple as anything gets in the tech world — works by swapping out your current router, plugging a single eero into your modem, then placing additional eeros throughout the house. The devices work together to create a wireless mesh network that delivers fast, reliable WiFi to every room. Their mesh technology ensures people are getting the same internet speeds they’re paying for throughout the entire home, instead of just near wherever their cable pipe comes in.
eero is quick to set up and makes it easy for people to manage their networks through a smartphone app. The app allows you to monitor your internet network from afar and invite guests to join the network via a text message. Parents can even assign schedules for when devices can access WiFi, making it easy to limit their kids’ internet usage.
Update your modem
An often-overlooked device that may be throttling your WiFi signal is the cable modem, the device that translates the data coming in through your cable pipe into a digital language your router can understand.
Households should update their modems every three to five years. If yours is outdated, it could be impacting the quality of your signal and speed. Many people rent their modem from their internet service provider for $5-10 a month. Purchasing a new, updated modem usually costs $50-100, but you’ll save money on a rental fee while seeing major improvements to your WiFi.
The way we use the internet today has changed and the old ways of WiFi are not keeping pace. Whether it’s moving your router, upgrading to an eero mesh network, or just swapping out your modem, you shouldn’t have to deal with buffering, dead zones, or router resets.
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