4 Things You Can Do Now To Improve Your Wi-Fi at Home
Use this roadmap to steer clear of issues with your wireless service
Add up the benefits of high-speed internet service in your daily life. With a smart device and a web browser, you can book a vacation, schedule an appointment, place an order for the best take out in town. With a couple of clicks, you can pay your electric bill, stream a video in HD and find a new paint scheme for the kitchen. It’s all possible, it’s tremendously easy and many of us do these tasks regularly without a second thought. The internet, the latest apps and our devices are optimized for a seamless, convenient online experience.
Just as important as the possibilities we have with our internet connections, however, are the benefits we sometimes overlook—such as just how slick it is to be able to take the internet where we want on our mobile devices. We can check baseball scores on the patio while we grill, do our homework at the airport or stream Season 3 in the hotel lobby. But it wouldn’t be possible without Wi-Fi, and that’s what makes wireless internet such an amazing innovation.
Our Wi-Fi networks, though, don’t always work as well as we want them to. Like the weather, they can be unpredictable at times. There are many factors—from signal strength to speed to access—that affect wireless internet performance and quality.
We’re glad you found this blog, because we want to help you sort out some of the most common issues with Wi-Fi networks and how to improve your wireless experience.
1. Keep your router away from signal-snatching obstructions
Unlike a wired connection that provides a direct, physical connection from the internet to the device, Wi-Fi travels through radio waves—and it’s up to your home router to pick up and distribute the signal. A strong, consistent signal is not a certainty, though, because there are many things that can interfere with the signal, resulting in inconsistent speeds or lost connectivity.
Common household objects, from floors, doors, mirrors, brick walls, cordless phones, microwaves and baby monitors all can potentially interfere with your signal. Sometimes, neighboring Wi-Fi networks can cause interference, as well. Signal strength also can degrade over long distances, making it even more difficult to pass through walls and closed doors.
To combat this, situate your router in a central spot in your home. A router isn’t always the prettiest thing to look at, but avoid placing the router in a drawer or closet, as enclosures will obstruct signals as well.
2. Wi-Fi Technology can boost signal strength and reach
A wireless router will operate best when located centrally in your home, away from walls and other obstructions, but even with your router in an optimal location, it’s still possible to receive interference, weak signals and connection issues. Fortunately, there are devices to remedy some of the issues.
+ Range Extenders
These devices connect wirelessly to Wi-Fi routers, and as the name implies, they extend the reach of your network by picking up the signal and retransmitting it. Range extenders, also known as repeaters or boosters, can be effective in large houses, where Wi-Fi coverage otherwise might be spotty.
+ Access Points
While range extenders only expand a signal, access points create a network and transmit their own signal to a designated area. Access points connect to a wired router via an Ethernet cable. Routers often have their own access points built in, and depending on the model, sometimes have more than one.
+ Mesh Networks
Mesh networks use a series of nodes set up throughout your home to distribute your wireless signals more consistently. One of the nodes acts as a gateway, and connects to your modem. Once connected, the nodes communicate with each other to evenly distribute your Wi-Fi signal to dead zones and other hard-to-reach places in your home.
3. Change the channel
Wi-Fi signals are transmitted through channels. Your router chooses a channel to communicate with the devices on your network. Channels, though, have limits—there’s only so much traffic that can travel in one channel before it gets congested and slows down the signal. Read the instructions included with your router. They will detail how to access your router’s deeper settings (usually by entering an address into your search engine). You can change the channels in router to find a less “busy” lane for your devices to operate from.
Newer routers use dual band technology—broadcasting at the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies. In some cases you can set up certain devices to operate on different bands. The 5 GHz band offers faster speeds in general, though it has a shorter range than 2.4 GHz.
4. Don’t expect a good experience from old technology
Technology quickly becomes obsolete, and items such as your router are no different. When you introduce new technology into your network over time, there is a decreased chance with each passing year that that newer device will properly communicate with your router. It’s true that routers have firmware that implements updates from time to time, but updates only stretch so far. It’s normal to want to get the most out of your technology, but wireless standards and security features are improving all the time. Older generation standards have lower bandwidth limits. Eventually, an older device won’t be able to keep up. The average life of a standard router is about three to four years.
+ The more devices you have connected to your Wi-Fi network, the more competition there will be for available bandwidth which can strain your network and slow down access. If you want faster speeds, you might have to limit the number of devices connected at one time.
+ Downloading and streaming are bandwidth-intensive. Download large files such as movies, music and audiobooks during off-peak traffic times. Save files to your hard drive. You’ll still be able to enjoy them anytime—offline—without gobbling up bandwidth. If you can, schedule automatic system updates on your devices for overnight, when the network is less busy. Consider switching off or temporarily disconnecting certain devices when you’re not using them. Is someone streaming a movie in the living room? Maybe you could switch your video call to audio-only. Every little bit of bandwidth helps.
+ Old or outdated technology will not be able to receive signals as efficiently, so if your router is several years old, it might not be able to consistently deliver a strong signal. It’s generally recommended you consider a new or updated router every three of four years.
+ Consider a wired connection for devices that allow it. Smart TVs, game consoles and computers all can be hard-wired with an Ethernet cable. A one-to-one connection is a better way to get a stronger, more consistent signal. If you can wire your stationary devices such as your TV and game console, you’re conserving your Wi-Fi signal for mobile devices such as your tablet and phone.
+ A strong password is hard to hack. That means, you reduce your chance of neighbors or unwanted users stealing your bandwidth and signal. Take the time to create a strong password.
Are you looking for a hassle-free experience? Consider Managed Wi-Fi service. Find out more about it here.