What impacts your signal?
Your Wi-Fi signal is impacted by many different things including the construction methods of the building, the Wi-Fi router location and configuration or the interference from devices such as your microwave.
To improve your signal I have provided a step-by-step guide to improving your signal coverage and to highlight any underlying issues that you may have with your network setup and devices.
I would not recommend attempting the advance steps without a solid understanding in the tasks as you could stop your Wi-Fi working altogether if done incorrectly.
Internet Speed Test 1 – This is a baseline just in case that the internet connection bandwidth is an underlying issue. Using a speed test tool e.g. http://www.speedtest.net/ get a basic upload and download reading.
Check who/what is connected – If you are still using default passwords, someone may be using your Wi-Fi, without your knowledge, and using up all your bandwidth. Change your Wi-Fi password and your router admin password to something complex and unique and then reconnect your main device. See ‘managing your passwords’ article…
Internet Speed Test 2 – With only a single device connected, run the speed test again. If the test results are the same you now have your baseline and this is the bandwidth that you have. Now walk around your property to check that your signal coverage is still the same.
Router Location – Your router should be in the ‘centre’ of the required coverage area you would like. Most likely your premises will have an entry point for your internet connection and, naturally, your internet Wi-Fi router is positioned here which usually isn’t in the centre. Go to your local hardware store and get a longer cable, relevant to the router connection, and test various different locations around the house and how well the signal works in the areas where you need it.
Update your software – Ensure that all of your devices and laptops etc. are using the latest patches and updates. Updating your devices will help to reduce security flaws as well as install performance improvements which can help improve your Wi-Fi performance.
Wi-Fi Router Update – It is not uncommon to receive a ‘new router’ with an older version of software/firmware. Updating your router will ensure that all known security flaws will be fixed and the latest performance improvements will be applied. Only attempt a router firmware upgrade if you are comfortable doing so.
2.4GHz and 5GHz – Modern routers and devices will use both frequencies. 2.4GHz was the original standard but is used by every single Wi-Fi router. 5GHz is fairly new and Wi-Fi routers aren’t using this as a default because older devices cannot connect. Check your devices and if possible change to 5GHz as this will have less interference and you will find that the performance may be much better.
Channels – Whether you use 2.4GHz or 5GHz, an ISP will configure your router to use a default channel. If everyone one around you also uses the default channel of their ISP, its a likely that these default channels will become congested.
Modern routers will allow you to see which channels are being used and which are less congested. With this information you can choose a less congested channel for your Wi-Fi to use.
Some routers can change channels automatically but, if you live in a very congested area, you may find that your router is constantly changing channels and this can impact your Wi-Fi performance.
Wi-Fi Extender – If you have tried all the above, and before forking out a large sum of cash for the latest router, try a Wi-Fi extender. Installing this within your routers current signal range but close to your ‘dead zone’ will get you greater coverage. Extenders are cheaper than a new router and simple to install.
Update your Router – (in the advanced section due to the cost) The Latest router technology may work for you. It should provide with the latest aerial technology for coverage and further performance/configuration options to allow you to proceed with the next couple of steps.
Instead of changing all the functions of a Wi-Fi router, you can install a new Wi-Fi access point, replacing your routers Wi-Fi, but keep the router function.
Prioritize applications – Modern routers can allow you to prioritize certain types of traffic over other e.g. Video/audio of social networking thus reducing the impact of social networking on your Netflix streaming.
Device QoS – Modern routers and Access point can configure bandwidth limitations at a device level so if you have business devices that need a minimum bandwidth to work correctly you can guarantee this using Quality of Service (QoS) policies.
If you have completed all these steps, then Well Done. It’s a bit of work to get here but I’m sure that its been worthwhile.