Wi-Fi, it’s quite a challenging topic and a difficult one to explain simply.
Wi-Fi is the most convenient way to connect to the internet, and now as many more of us work remotely, we are using it more than ever. But, due to the nature of Wi-Fi transmitting using radio waves, its performance can fluctuate. Wi-Fi is never going to be as fast or reliable as a hardwired connection, but there are things you can do to improve it, at home or at work.
There are many factors that play a role in the speed your wireless devices receive, such as electrical interferences, your microwave, fridge, Sky Q box, distance from the router and much more. Even the building materials of your home can play a part. New homes are often built using aluminium foil backed insulation foam, which can have a similar effect to the thick brick walls of many older homes. Both impact range and speed. And that 15-year-old laptop – no chance! The majority of older devices have no way of utilising the hyperfast speeds of today, as they just aren’t built for it.
Here are some tips on how to improve your speeds and range:
- Location is important; Wi-Fi uses electromagnetic frequency radio waves which your router transmits, and your devices receive. The further your device is from your router, the slower your speeds will be. So try and place your router as centrally as possible – perhaps closer to your home office if you’re working from home. Also, Wi-Fi transmits in all directions (aka. omnidirectionally), creating coverage like a bubble. So, avoid putting your router on the floor and place it on a shelf, ideally 4-5ft high to avoid losing coverage through your home’s foundations.
- Objects too, can affect connections between your devices and our router. Try to keep clutter around your router to a minimum and avoid putting it near any appliances or large metal objects such as radiators, or behind your TV for example.
- Device capabilities are key. Make sure your device supports fast speeds if this is important to you. Age and specification will have a big impact on the speeds you receive on any device.
- Band steering is a Wi-Fi technology that aims to move your Wi-Fi device to the most optimal Wi-Fi frequency, depending on signal strength. Wi-Fi broadcasts on two frequency bands:
- 2.4Ghz – greater at penetrating solid objects with a longer range, but limited to lower speeds of up to 150Mb/s
- 5Ghz – has a shorter range, but allows faster speeds of up to 500Mb/s and beyond.
If your device speeds are running below 150Mb/s you may well be on the 2.4Ghz frequency. Band steering is automatically enabled on our routers, but if you would prefer to change the signal strength threshold or split the bands to manually select one or the other, this feature can be disabled.
- Ethernet cabling is typically more stable, reliable, and faster than connecting wirelessly, so if this is important to you, we suggest using cabling where possible. When hardwired, it doesn’t matter how far you are from the router, you’re more likely to see those stable speeds, and it avoids signal interference due to those environmental factors that affect Wi-Fi.
- Channel selection is another option. Within the 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz frequency bands, each has smaller bands called ‘channels’. If these channels become too congested by devices, it may reduce your speed and range. Visualise a channel as a lane on the motorway, if 1 lane is busy, you can switch to another that’s less congested. Our routers are configured to use the least congested channels, but this doesn’t always do the trick. But not to worry! There is a channel analyser on our router, which gives visibility of channel usage, allowing you to manually move to a less congested channel if need be.
- Wi-Fi boosters are a great way to extend your existing Wi-Fi range and boost it further across your home. If your Wi-Fi isn’t reaching far enough then we suggest investing in one. Be sure to place any extender in a location that allows you to boost a strong signal strength – there’s no point boosting poor signal strength! If a booster isn’t quite enough, consider installing a MESH system, which consists of multiple units for further coverage.
These handy tips should help you improve your Wi-Fi speeds and signal strength. If you are still seeing less-than-expected speeds, we do ask that you run a hardwired speed test directly from our router.
Remember, full fibre broadband is the best connectivity available in the UK and our guaranteed hardwired speeds are there for your peace of mind. But we know that Wi-Fi is important and we’re always here to help you make the most of your Wi-Fi over our full fibre connections.
This article is only the tip of the iceberg where Wi-Fi is concerned, so if you have any questions, please get in touch and our tech team will be happy to help.