5 Sure Shot Ways to Improve Your WiFi Signal at Home
You need to boost your WiFi Signal!
A few days before the coronavirus, almost no one doubted the quality of the home wireless network. However, now, when we use it much longer and more intensively, some problems arise. Life in isolation plunged us into the virtual world. Moreover, our activity on the Internet comes down not only to work, but all actions pass through one cable. With such an increased load, more and more problems arise.
For example, one of your family members meets with friends in Zoom, and another “saves the world from zombies.” The wife learns a foreign language via Skype in the kitchen, you are in a bedroom in which the connection to the Wi-Fi network is unstable. You can solve this problem in several ways, but first, you need to think about what really needs to be fixed.
What is the problem with my WiFi?
At this point, you need to determine the source of the problem. Is it about losing Wi-Fi? Or maybe something else, for example, insufficient Internet speed from the provider?
First, use the tool to check the connection speed. You can find it, for example, at Speedtest.net. If it turns out that the data transfer coefficient next to the router (a device that allows you to use a wireless network) is at a decent level, but practically disappears in the kitchen, then, as technical experts say, “the problem is you”. You need to analyze the connection to your Wi-Fi network.
For mobile devices and computers, there are many applications available to determine the signal strength on a Wi-Fi network. Just enter “Wi-Fi analyzer” in a web browser or application store. Choose the one that visualizes the results to make it easier to compare readings in different parts of the house. When choosing an application, follow the basic safety rules: make sure that it does not require access to your contact list or messages (because they are not needed for such work), and then scan it using an antivirus.
When, after starting the application for analyzing Wi-Fi networks, it turns out that the kitchen is filled with wireless networks of neighbors, and you barely see your own, this means that it does not work properly. But do not give up, this problem can be solved.
Provide good coverage
Perhaps the problem with the home wireless network is the layout of the house and where the router sends the radio waves.
To increase the range, experiment with the device and the angle of its antenna. This is the simplest method that does not require too much time, money, or special knowledge.
It is worth changing the location of the router if it is located in the corner of the room, cabinet (especially metal - it greatly weakens the signal, as well as reinforced concrete walls).
Changing the position of the antenna of the router can also help: to find out more about this, search the Internet for how the router signals propagate. But returning to practical tips, most of the router emits the best signal when its antenna is pointing up. Thus, you get the best possible horizontal range.
Also, check for obstructions. For example, a refrigerator restricts radio waves, but you are unlikely to change its position. On the other hand, a microwave oven or a baby monitor operating at 2.4 GHz, like a router, is easier to rearrange.
If this does not fix the problem, then it's time to move on to more radical steps.
Set up channels
A Wi-Fi network operates in a set of narrow bands called radio bands. There are a few channels; we have many more devices that want to use them. Therefore, the most popular band - 2.4 GHz - can be blocked by neighboring networks and other devices.
After each restart or at the scheduled time, the router selects the channel with the least load. This can be compared to how the navigation system selects the route with the least traffic.
Routers usually do a good job of this, but you can still help them. For example, you can configure the router to automatically search for the least clogged channels and even set them manually. However, be careful in the latter case; Spectrum congestion is very variable because channels are switched not only by your router but also by neighbors.
In addition, some routers allow you to change the Wi-Fi signal strength. Check your device’s settings to see if it’s set to its maximum value.
Switch to 5 GHz
The 5 GHz band is an area of the radio wave range that has more wide channels. Older router models and the cheapest new ones do not support 5 GHz, and therefore we get less noise and higher transmission speed.
If your router does not support the 5 GHz band, try replacing it with a newer model that supports 802.11ac (also known as Wi-Fi 5).
At the current stage, you don’t need to worry about the more advanced 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) standard, which is still quite expensive. Switching to Wi-Fi 6 will have a noticeable effect only if you have a lot of devices at home that requires a powerful wireless network.
Remember, however, that switching to 5 GHz is not a recipe for everything. The price of a higher frequency is the faster attenuation of the signal depending on the distance, and in large apartments or houses, the effective range can really disappoint.
It all depends on what the problem is with your home Wi-Fi network. If the 2.4 GHz band in the area where you live is clogged with other people's networks and 5 GHz is available to you, then the update can really help. But if your 2.4 GHz network does not reach the kitchen because of the distance and the reinforced concrete walls, a 5 GHz connection will not help here.
We are so used to the convenience of a Wi-Fi network that we sometimes forget about the good old Ethernet cable. Connecting to the Internet via cable is often the easiest and cheapest solution, and also eliminates the problems associated with Wi-Fi networks.
Using a wired connection has at least two advantages: it eliminates the problem in a room where the wireless signal does not have enough power, and, in addition, if you connect at least some of the devices with a cable, the quality of the wireless connection available for other gadgets will improve. Of course, in this way, it does not make sense to connect your smartphone or tablet, but your computer or TV will be “happy” about it.
If the cables interfere with you and you cannot hide them, try the adapter for the power outlet, which transmits a network signal through home wiring. The disadvantage of this solution is the fact that such devices may be somewhat unpredictable and sometimes may not want to work with electric cables.
Build a mesh system
The area that the wireless signal reaches can also be enlarged in other ways. For example, you can install signal amplifiers or replace the antenna of the router with another one (you will be surprised how poor the quality of the antenna is in a regular home router - even if they look impressive).
However, if administering network devices is not your favorite activity, it is best to buy a ready-made kit that allows you to create a mesh system.
These kits are offered by most network equipment manufacturers. They consist of a central router and several secondary access points. Their task is to ensure that the signal reaches the farthest parts of the house. In such a system, the size of the area covered by the Wi-Fi network is up to you - just use the appropriate number of additional access points.
Unlike traditional amplifiers, the system is controlled centrally (additional devices are usually automatically configured), which saves a lot of time and effort. If you can connect the access point to the router via an Ethernet cable, you will increase both the speed and the signal range.
Another important advantage of this solution is fast and uninterrupted roaming. The idea is to seamlessly make video calls to friends, even if other family members send you to where another access point will work.
Some more tuning tips. 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz networks must use the same network name and password for normal “roaming” operation. The Mobility Domain ID / key element is the name used to connect network segments (some routers even install them automatically).
A mesh network is, of course, an additional cost, but you do not need to invest in the best sets. Some manufacturers offer routers that support this solution as standard, and then you only need to buy a few inexpensive access points.
And one more thing: it is better not to experiment, combining equipment from different manufacturers. When choosing a cell system, consider future expansion.