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Do these 3 things to make sure your internet is ready for virtual learning

HOUSTON – Your child is late for his math Zoom class. Instead of connecting him with his teacher, your internet browsing just keeps spinning that wheel.

If slow internet and intermittent Wi-Fi stressed you out during virtual school last spring, there are some things you can do now to make sure you don’t have the same experience when classes start in the next few weeks.

To make sure your internet is fast enough and your Wi-Fi can handle the course load, do these three things before the bell rings.

You can easily test the speed of your internet on your devices by logging onto www.speedtest.net and clicking “go.” Education website K12.com says you need a download speed of at least 1 mbps. If you determine your speeds are not fast enough, doing one or all of these things can help.

  • Check out your router. This is the device that allows your modem to receive and send information to the internet. How old is yours?

“If you have an old router, you may have the same one from your cable company for years and years you want to replace that. That’s what is going to be your bottleneck,” explained Dan Ackerman, the senior managing editor at Cnet.

You can ask your internet company for a new router. Most charge about $10 a month. Or you can buy your own for as little as $50.

  • If your router is not old, the problem may be where you have it in your home. It should be closest to the area where you need it. If your kids are doing their online classes from your dining room table, put the router in the same room. Don’t put it in a closet or cabinet where walls or shelves can stifle its signal.
  • If you live in a house with a lot of dead spots or rooms where you can’t get a connection, you can buy what’s called a wifi mesh system to reach all of those dead zones. One-piece plugs into your router. Then you plug in or place little pucks where ever you need a stronger signal.

The more little pucks you need, the more it’ll cost you. You can buy a quality system with three pucks or extenders for as little as $151.

If you can’t spring for the mesh system or a new router, some school districts like HISD are distributing mobile hotspots that students can use for at-home learning. Some library branches loan them out. Just call your school or library to ask about them.