What is QoS and how do we know if it will help us work from home?

Now that the kids and adults are home across our neighborhoods, all working, schooling, playing, or simply looking for ways to entertain ourselves, we’re all on the internet all the time. This taxes our residential internet connections in unprecedented ways. While all applications that use the internet are impacted by connection quality and bandwidth issues, those with real-time features and requirements will feel it the most. File sharing and downloading can run quietly in the background, but video conferencing and VoIP will feel the effects of internet issues right away.

Quality of Service (QoS) tries to mitigate this problem and provide the best possible network service to applications deemed most important. QoS reduces the effects of packet loss, latency, and jitter on the network and allocates the bandwidth used by different types of network traffic. The goal of QoS is to ensure that high-priority traffic gets a smooth, uninterrupted experience.

Here’s how QoS works: Think of your internet connection as a huge multi-lane freeway. QoS is the tool that sets aside carpool lanes and bus-only lanes so that when traffic gets heavy, high-priority uses still have lanes reserved for them.

Can QoS really help?

While traditional QoS solutions can help in many situations, they are only as good as the resources available to support them and the bandwidth and internet connection they have to work with. Additionally, traditional QoS can only allocate bandwidth to internet traffic that leaves the local network. Everything beyond the local router is outside its influence and control.

This is an important limitation to understand, because sometimes the network problem is on the LAN, and sometimes the problem resides between the home router and the ISP. Connection and throughput issues can also spring up between the ISP and its upstream providers. Unfortunately, that means there are a lot of places where things can go wrong!

There are a few different aspects and implementations of QoS. In enterprise network environments, QoS is often implemented with manual policies that identify the requirements of sensitive applications that are key to business operations and route that traffic through the business network architecture. In home environments, routers designed for residential use can have QoS options, but they are often automated to focus on gaming or streaming services.

To understand whether QoS can help with home internet issues, the first and easiest test is to load up an application you’d want prioritized, such as video conferencing, and turn off all of the other internet devices in the house. Turn off Disney Plus, switch phones to mobile data only, tell all of the other stuck-at-home adults to go for a socially-distanced walk, and take the tablets away from the kids. If this eliminates all of the performance problems with the business app, we’ll know that the app works fine when the connection is more available. QoS prioritization can probably help by making sure that business-critical applications receive a higher priority over that bulk data.

If that does not fix the problem, we need to look at other causes. Consider the quality of the WiFi connection to the device and WAN issues. Also consider connection issues beyond the home, as they can’t be solved by typical QoS and will need a more intelligent, adaptable QoS solution. Home office workers can use the ping tool to test for connection issues inside and outside the house.

Related: More bandwidth may not solve your home internet problem.

Finding the right QoS solution for a home office

QoS solutions have been around for a long time, but most of them are targeted at enterprise or large office networks. Residential routers and cable modems sometimes have rudimentary QoS options, such as a single “Turn on QoS” button on the admin console. These are better than nothing, and you should see if they resolve the problem.

Delivering intelligent, autonomous QoS and providing reliable, resilient internet connectivity to and from cloud services over any commodity broadband connection is one of the core focus points for Bigleaf Networks. In response to the need for reliable internet for business use, Bigleaf Dynamic QoS prioritizes important traffic and, through the Bigleaf Cloud Access Network, provides optimal connection to vital cloud services.

Bigleaf Networks now provides a Bigleaf Home Office solution to help organizations set up reliable internet access and application performance in their employees’ home offices. Bigleaf Home Office is easy to deploy, and a simple setup works seamlessly with existing ISP and broadband connections – both single and multiple circuits!

Click here to learn more about Bigleaf Home Office.

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