With an increasing number of WiFi hungry gadgets in our homes, and more and more people avoiding the daily commute in favour of working from their sofa, our home networks are under more pressure than ever before to meet the needs of both our work and play.
2014 will continue to see the demand on our home network grow. With phones, laptops, tablets and consoles already fighting for bandwidth, the increasing number of connected devices available is only going to add to the problem. Smart televisions are quickly becoming the norm, and with technology giants such as Samsung and LG, revealing concepts for the 'smart home', kitchen appliances such as your fridge will soon also be connected to the internet.
It's not just the devices themselves that we need to consider, but also how we use them. Obviously the strain when simply browsing the web is minimal, however we are increasingly opting for bandwidth-reliant services.
Cloud services are now more regularly used to stream films, music, and even access important documents for work, not to mention bandwidth intensive gaming. Sony recently unveiled 'Playstation Now' a service that will enable users to stream video games to phones, tablets, PCs and TVs without the need for a console. Although this service is unlikely to be available in the UK until late 2014, it is certainly a sign of things to come, and yet another possible problem for your home's connectivity.
It is key to make sure your home network is up to scratch for the year ahead and ready for the connected, 'smart home' of the future. This will enable you to embrace the evolving home technology without having to struggle with pains and strains of sub-standard network performance. Investing in a good router is crucial; many people think that poor WiFi signal is down to their service provider. By upgrading your router you could instantly increase the strength, reach and reliability of your signal.
A router compatible with AC WiFi, the latest WiFi standard, is also a good bet as it runs up to three times faster than the previous industry standard (802.11n). It also promises the fastest wireless connections, better range, improved reliability and improved power consumption on mobile devices.
With devices that are stationary, for example, games consoles and smart TVs, make sure you are getting the most out of them by connecting them to the internet using a powerline. These products turn any electrical outlet in the home into a high speed network connection, meaning your device will avoid interference and drop outs caused by other devices battling for bandwidth. Certain new technologies are also able to prioritise bandwidth, giving games consoles such as the Xbox One and streaming services like Netflix priority over general internet use.
Make the most of your space by using a range extender to increase the distance that your WiFi network covers. There is nothing more frustrating than wanting to browse the internet on a nice summer's day in the garden, and being held back by poor signal. By using a range extender placed strategically within your home, you will instantly have access to the internet in areas of the house or garden that you previously thought were a WiFi graveyard.
Get ready to future proof your network and embrace the new, exciting technologies breaking through in 2014.