It’s no good having up to 900 Mbps Full Fibre if your Wi-Fi connection to your devices is slow. You could plug an ethernet cable from your computer to the router, but that defeats the point of Wi-Fi, and what about all the devices which can’t be plugged in? There are several reasons for poor Wi-Fi, some of which could need investment in extenders, Point to Point transmitters, and mesh discs, but some of them are simple solutions you can take care of in a few minutes.
Where your router is positioned within the home can have an incredible effect on the speed your internet connected devices work. Placing it near the front door, where the cable comes into your home, seems like an obvious idea, but if most of your internet use takes place at the back of the house, upstairs, or in a home office located in the garden then the distance the signal has to travel, and the obstacles it has to pass through can have a great effect on the amount of bandwidth available to each machine.
To overcome this, simply place your router nearer where the action is. If your family doesn’t all sit in the same room to access the internet (and what family would!?) try to place the router at the centre of the home. This means that each laptop, phone, smart speaker and TV will have an equal opportunity to get signal. And place it somewhere high up. It might be tempting to put it on the floor behind a desk, somewhere out of the way, but putting it on the desk, or better yet on a high shelf. This extends the broadcast range and means less objects the signal has to pass through before reaching your device.
Floors and Walls
Building materials are usually the home’s most effective blocks to Wi-Fi signal. If you live in an old house with wooden floors you’ll experience a little slowing of your signal, but not nearly as much as if you live in a building with reinforced concrete floors and walls. What with power cables, water and gas pipes along with rebar each room is effectively a Faraday cage. Placing the router in the main room where the internet is used will be effective for that room, but other rooms will still experience degradation of signal. If that sounds like your home, talk to your internet provider about mesh network discs or Wi-Fi extenders. These are an inexpensive means of getting signal into black spots and areas where signal is weaker than average.
Data Heavy Use
If you’re not the only person using the Wi-Fi it could be the way someone else is using the internet which is having an effect on the speeds you’re getting. Our routers can handle a lot of traffic, but if someone is downloading 8k HDTV movies via their Wi-Fi connection that’s going to show when you try to stream a movie of your own. Plugging your TV, laptop or desktop into your router via an ethernet connection will help each of you here. By bypassing the Wi-Fi stage altogether and plugging directly into the fibre or wireless broadband delivery system what you lose in the convenience of being cable free you make up for in stability of service.
If slow Wi-Fi is being caused because you live in a household with many members all trying to use the internet at once, a shared house full of gamers or school age kids trying to do homework while watching Disney+ or Netflix at the same time it’s possible to prioritize network traffic by turning on Quality of Service on your router. Activities which need the most data with the least lag will be prioritised while other less data hungry use will be apportioned enough for them to run effectively without interfering with the others.
Interference And Hum On Your Router
It’s funny to think that all the signals that any TV, radio, digital receiver or phone we could connect to are all passing through us all the time. Wherever you go you’re always going to get background signals, and although they are at a different frequency from your Wi-Fi router, that noise can still cause interference.
This interference can come from the most unexpected sources. Old microwave ovens which aren’t adequately shielded are close enough in frequency to cause interference as they operate at 2.45GHz while Wi-Fi is 2.4GHz.
Bluetooth devices also operate at the same frequency as a microwave. While you may not think you use Bluetooth all that much, if you use Mac’s Airdrop, wireless keyboards, mice, or a slew of other connected devices which connect to your computer without using Wi-Fi data then you’re using Bluetooth. With so many low energy short range devices all using a frequency so close to that of Wi-Fi signal it’s often helpful to move the router away from them to get a clearer signal.
Christmas Lights (Yes, Really!)
While rebar and power cables within the floors and walls of you home can create an approximation of a Faraday cage, putting fairy lights up on a Christmas tree effectively create a coil emitting an electromagnetic field which can interfere with your Wi-Fi signal. The lighting ring on your mains cabling can also cause the same effect, but it is a lot less noticeable, however, it’s a good idea to place the router away from the cables supplying the lights where possible.
Almost every home, every flat, apartment, office building, shop and managed space has its own Wi-Fi network. All that signal, all at the same frequency can create ‘channel overlap’. If a microwave oven or Bluetooth device can cause problems just by being close to the frequency of your network, imagine what multiple devices all at the same frequency will do!
With all that noise and a limited number of channels to choose from your router will find it hard to work efficiently, resulting in slower Wi-Fi reception. It is possible to overcome the problem by choosing a new Wi-Fi channel. If you can find one that nobody else is using you’ll be able to cut down on interference and consequently you should see your speeds increase.
This may seem like a lot of faff for a technology which is supposed to be on the cutting edge of development, like constantly trying to adjust the set top TV aerial to get the best reception, but the situation is the same: without a cable connection a little fine tuning can get great results if you’re patient and you’re willing to take a little time to get things just right.