With the increasing demand for digital content, we expect a lot more from our home media network in terms of features and performance. Playing a few music tracks or watching home videos is no longer enough to satisfy our entertainment needs. Since there is a wide variety of options, we require versatility from home media networks to enjoy all the possibilities available. In order to get the best out of media content applications, it is important to ensure that all the components in your system are up to date. If some parts of the home media network are not working well, they will have a negative impact on the performance and speed of your network.
There are a few things that will help you to enhance your home network to enjoy an optimal media streaming experience. The aspects to consider include bandwidth and how each part of the home media network impacts speed. In this article, we will also highlight the importance of knowing how to measure the speed of your network’s components and how to set up a solid and long-lasting home network.
Let’s start by checking the average speeds needed for some popular media applications. Keep in mind that you should double these figures to get an accurate idea of the the bandwidth required to run them.
- Netflix (HQ) – 3.5 Mbps
- Voice Calls (HD) – 1.5 Mbps
- Music – 0.4 Mbps
- Movie (Blu-Ray) – 40 Mbps
Home Media Network Bottlenecks
The speed of your internet connection is determined by your ISP, but it will also depend on the website or application that you are using and the time of the day. There is a variety of websites that you can use to measure the speed of your connection. When it comes to media applications, it is advisable to focus on measuring the download speed.
Router and Ethernet
One aspect that can limit the performance of your network is the interface of your router. The majority of home networks use 100Mbps interfaces, although some of the latest options have 1Gbps interfaces. If you are streaming from a media server and traffic is limited to your home, you will have a large percentage of speed available for your home media network. Knowing the router’s speed will allow to know if media applications can be supported.
PowerLine devices can carry Ethernet signals with the help of regular home electrical wiring. While most PowerLine adapters feature speeds that go beyond 300Mbps, it is unlikely that you get that full speed, unless both devices are placed next to each other. The truth is that since there are many factors that play a part in your network’s speed and the quality of your connection, achieving the ideal performance can be challenging.
The majority of home networks currently available use some kind of Wi-Fi device. The performance and speed will depend on how old the device is and the kind of technology it operates with, but most likely you would have a 54 Mbps network. Most Wi-Fi technologies are based on IEEE 802.11 standards and home users would usually have one of these three generations: 802.11a, which supplied 11 Mbps, 802.11g and 802.11n, which can provide up to 54 Mbps. The fact that 802.11 can support MIMO, which allows it to work on several channels simultaneously, makes this standard more advanced than 802.11g as it can go as far as 600 Mbps.
The latest standard available is 802.11ac, which is considerably faster (it allows you to enjoy Gigabit per second speeds at home), enabling you to use media applications that take up a lot of bandwidth. 802.11ac is the best option if you are thinking about setting up a high speed home media network. One of the main downsides of Wi-Fi networks is that they can have areas where the connection doesn’t work. However, getting a 802.11ac technology can help to reduce the impact of this issue. You would also need to make sure that your media devices are not located in areas where the Wi-Fi network is at its weakest.