Maximizing Speed

Maximizing Connection Speeds in Digital Classrooms

Individual Actions

  1. If you can connect by a wired ethernet connection, do so. USB to ethernet adapters are available via online stores and in computing stores.
  2. For video conferencing, you can use your phone as backup audio by calling into the meeting using your phone while maintaining your computer connection. To solve the audio issues this creates:
    • mute your computer microphone (“mute” in the zoom screen)
    • mute your computer speaker (the speaker icon at the bottom right of a PC, top right of a Mac.)
  3. If using Zoom, check that HD video is not enabled:
  4. Close any other unneeded applications. If available, use a separate device (tablet/PC/phone) for essential applications.
  5. Disable your webcamera if the connection is spotty.
  6. Limit external demands on the network
    • Download videos that can be saved locally overnight. 
    • Watch videos that have been locally saved whenever possible.
    • Disable cloud file synchronization (e.g. Carbonite, CrashPlan) or cloud backups (e.g. OneDrive, Dropbox) while high network capacity is needed

Household Actions

  1. Limit household demands on the network
    • Download videos that can be saved locally overnight.
    • Limit streaming and online video gaming during classes and work hours to things required for work or classes.  *Gaming may not actually tax the internet as much as streaming video, depending on the platform. Test it to figure out.*
    • Streamed videos can be reduced to a lower bitrate. Just going from FullHD (1080p) to 720p will divide the bandwidth needed by almost 2.
  1. Make a schedule of when people could use to access high internet capability. Divide it according to needs and wants.
  2. Discover when your system generally gets overloaded. This will be a balance of time of day that your local area is using internet and the household demands on the network.
  3. When other household streaming/internet needs have higher priority and your system cannot handle yours, use text and regular phone calls to interact with others. Zoom provides call in capabilities to meetings.
  4. Check if any local internet provider provides higher quality internet at no additional cost during this crisis. For example, in Lima, OH Spectrum offers free wifi for up to 3 months.
  5. Contact your local politicians to ask them how to make it easier to get higher quality internet access in this crisis. They may be able to persuade the local providers to enact something like Spectrum did.  

This work was produced by Ella Foster-Molina, Swarthmore College, March 2020. It is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit