Office Upgrades: Network Speeds Go Vroom!

In March 2020, (when the whole world went remote) I simply brought home my laptop from the office, set it up on my kitchen table, and figured that this can’t possibly last more than a few weeks.  By that fall, I figured that this might be a while and I started rebuilding my battlestation.  This past December, I figured that it was time to step things up once again.  This month, I am going to be focusing on what I did to try to increase my general quality of life in the home office.  I plan to go over what I did right, what I did wrong, and what I want to do in the future.

As a general note, my employer only provides my laptop.  They do not provide any other hardware.  It was a very similar situation with my previous employer.  This meant that when I switched employers last year, I basically just swapped one Macbook Pro for another similarly speced (but newer) one.

For this week’s post, we are going to cover my network speeds.  Before the upgrade, I was using Spectrum’s 200Mbps/10Mbps service with a 4-point Google WiFi mesh network.  200Mbps/10Mbps speeds aren’t terrible but considering the fact that AT&T offers 1000Mbps/1000Mbps service for the same monthly cost, upgrading seemed like an easy choice.

Now, Google WiFi is a AC1200 MU-MIMO Wi-Fi system which really won’t get you speeds above 200Mbps under normal conditions.  The first step was to upgrade to a 4-point Netgear Nighthawk Mesh WiFi 6 System.  It is an AX1800 system that should max out at 1.8Gbps (plenty … in theory).  CNET found that at 75 feet from the point, its speed was 520 Mbps, though and these tests are all dependent upon the device having WiFi 6 in the first place (not all of my devices do).  I could have upgraded to a much better system (maybe something with WiFi 6e) but this would do for now.

The next step was to run ethernet cable to everything that I could (including backhauls to half of the WiFi points).  If the network connection is hardwired, the WiFi speeds won’t matter.

Now, AT&T offers something called Active Armor and frankly only a complete idiot would trust AT&T.  They don’t care about your wellbeing.  They only want to mine you for all you are worth.  So, the next step was to turn off WiFi on the router that they make you rent from them and limit their ability to spy on you.  They don’t allow you to change the DNS server on their router but by changing it on the Nighthawk and using DNS over HTTPS, you can blunt their ability to spy on you.

In next week’s post, I’ll go over the upgrades to my primary work desk in the office.

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