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Are Smart Devices Slowing Down Your Connection?

Victor in Buffalo, MO wants to know if IoT devices will slow down his Internet

Nest Learning Thermostat

Victor asked: All these Internet connected things for the house (Echo, doorbells, thermostats, etc.) How much bandwidth do they use? Do they slow your Internet down do it’s difficult to watch a streaming video?


That’s a good question, Victor. It depends on the device. Things that send video across your network, like the Ring video doorbell, will use a good bit of bandwidth, but only when they’re active. How often does someone ring your doorbell when you’re in the middle of streaming something on Netflix?

Other network connected devices, like Amazon’s Echo or the Nest thermostat, don’t use very much bandwidth at all. Even if you were to ask Echo to stream some music, that doesn’t demand a lot of bandwidth.

Video is the bandwidth killer

Video is the bandwidth killer, HD video is worse, and 4K video is the biggest problem of all. If you hope to stream 4K video in the future without buffering or degraded picture quality, you’d better plan on having something quite a few notches up from the basic Internet plan.

How far up? 15 megabits per second is the minimum for streaming 4K, but the truth is that you need a lot more. Closer to 50 megabits per second, if you hope to have people do anything else with the Internet at the same time you want to stream a movie.

So, as long as your Internet connected devices are not moving video around, you’re probably okay. But it’s also true that there is no such thing as “too much Internet speed.”

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Written by Dave Graveline

Dave Graveline is the founder, Host & Executive Producer of "Into Tomorrow" in addition to being President of the Advanced Media Network".

Dave is also a trusted and familiar voice on many national commercials & narrations in addition to being an authority in consumer tech since 1994. He is also a former Police Officer and an FBI Certified Instructor.

Dave thrives on audience participation!

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  1. Utilize your router’s QoS to distribute bandwidth

    Most routers have a quality-of-service (QoS) feature, but it’s not enabled by default on some routers. The idea behind QoS is to regulate bandwidth usage in a way that ensures good performance on the network, particularly with more sensitive types of services such as video streams, VoIP calls, and online gaming, where any lag can be quite noticeable. It basically gives these types of traffic higher priority—on the network and to internet access from the network—compared to services that aren’t sensitive to lag (e.g., file downloads, torrents, software updates, and general web browsing).

    The exact QoS features and settings vary between by router brands and models, but most provide a way for you to give particular devices higher priority by tagging their MAC or IP address, or by marking types of services for higher priority. Some routers come with a collection of default QoS settings that you can tweak and customize.

    Login to your router and see if it has any QoS settings. Take a look at the default settings, as it might already give the most common services higher priority. If not, see if it allows you to classify traffic based upon the service type. I suggest going that route first to help alleviate any performance issues on the network. Secondly, you could consider prioritizing any critical devices you’d like to have higher priority.

    Optimize your network to increase speeds

    Whenever possible, connect computers and devices to the router or network via an ethernet cable. This helps alleviate the congestion on the airwaves, which is a much more complex and imperfect connection medium than a cable.

    For devices that can’t be hardwired, try to utilize your router’s 5GHz frequency band as much as possible, as the 2.4GHz band is much more congested and prone to interference.

  2. The problem with IoT devices doesnt from the bandwidth they consume, but instead you’re hardware’s ability to handle the number of them and the requests they make. The above article makes valid points, but even having gigabit speed (1000Mbps) is worthless if you’re still thinking you only have a router managing your home network. Most homes have a single device managing three very important tasks. Most business with stable networks, would never combine these into one device. What are they?

    Routing, Switching, and Wireless access.

    The reason this hasn’t it become as critical until now (esp. with IoT devices), is that most home networks single unit, what people usually only call a router, only needed to support a limited number of devices, and the heavy using devices, until recently weren’t often wireless anyway.

    Typically these devices also only support up to ~64 clients (network connected devices) as well and even if they can, they do it poorly on a relatively idle network. Its abysmal when the network badwidth actually is used. I ran into this in my own home using mesh network smart lights. They would drop on and off the network with annoying frequency. I had a single device for all three ‘tasks’ which 2-3 years ago was about a $200-$300 unit and my connection speed was over 100Mbps too. I even had my own purchased modem ($100+) which when connected directly to a single device never gave an issue.

    So if you really want solid performance, you need to start with a solid and dedicated wireless access point. You’ll also want it wired to your switch (or router if you only use wifi and never connect other things with a network cable. I purchase ubiquiti, but there are lots of other well known manufacturers. That change solved every performance issue I had and came with some really great features too. Fully managable QoS accross all devices was one of them (most home units can only prioritze one or a few.

    I have no network issues now, but it was a but of a process. Worth it, but I have 70-80 devices that frequent my network daily and this issue started when I exceeded 30. So between Tvs, Tablets, Smart Phones, and now IoT devices, it all depends on how many you want to support. Anyway, I hope this helps.

    • I have a 1000Mbps fiber port in my apartment. I have a HUE Bridge with 4 Hue Bulbs, and about 14 wifi bulbs and some generic wifi led strips on the shelf in my kitchen. My apartment is about 1600spft and AT&T gave me three WiFi extenders that are connected through Cat5. I have 2 U-Verse boxes connected Cat5 and two Apple TV units and a smart tv all on Cat5. Also, a printer on Cat5. There’s a gigabit router in the closet, another in my entertainment center and a third in my office closet. I also have 3 echo dots, 4 Apple X, three laptops, 2 tablets on WiFi.

      When I’m tethered on my laptop, I get 999Mbps. When I reboot the router I get about 200Mbps. Then, everything bogs down over and over and over. Most speed tests on WiFi render about 30Mbps or less! I’m a bit of tech savvy guy in that I could implement a plan but I have no real idea as to how to get there.

      Do you have any thoughts?