Linksys Smart Wi-Fi

How to allocate broadband bandwidth so that key users are protected, and always have a guaranteed minimum amount of data. (See also: What's the best broadband ISP in the UK? The UK's fastest, cheapest ISPs in 2014.)

QUESTION My son is always complaining about lag in his gaming. He's one of three (occasionally five when my daughters are home) users of our available bandwidth. He wants to know if it's possible to allocate bandwidth in such a way that he's 'guaranteed' some amount of it so that, no matter what any other user in the house is doing, his bandwidth doesn't suffer. We have a pretty standard, ISP-supplied (Thomson/Technicolor) router driving a six-port hub and a wireless network.

HELPROOM ANSWER This sort of bandwidth management is possible with many models of broadband router, but is possibly not available on the budget model one supplied by your ISP, so it's likely that you'll have to upgrade it.

However, without knowing the exact model name, we can't say for certain, so it's worth checking the specification. You may also like to sign in to your router's browser-based interface and look for options labelled QoS or Bandwidth Management.

Some budget routers will allow you to apply limits to particular IP addresses on your network, so you could allocate only a portion of your total available bandwidth to a given PC. However, this is a rather crude solution as it won't allow that PC to use any additional bandwidth even if there are no other users active on the network.

Better routers will allow you to prioritise PCs and connected devices and also selected applications or games. Many routers can do this, and the Linksys EA6700 and Asus RT-AC66U are both good products.

In the example pictured above, the Linksys EA6900's Media Prioritization page, enables you to prioritise devices and selected games with a simple drag-and-drop interface. You should be able to buy an up-to-date router, capable of similar features and supporting the latest wireless-AC technology for under £150.

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