Top tips to boost your home Wi-Fi
These days, having a slow Wi-Fi connection can be more than a little frustrating. Whether you’re working from home or simply want to stream your favourite film on Netflix, improving your Wi-Fi can help keep tech annoyance at bay.
But before we delve into Wi-Fi performance, let’s get one thing clear. Your Wi-Fi is not the same thing as your broadband. You may have best in class 1000 Mbps fibre broadband but if your Wi-Fi set-up at home is not efficient, you can do nothing with these lightning fast speeds. So what is Wi-fi?
Wi-Fi refers to the wireless connection in your house or business that allows multiple devices (like your smart TV, gaming console, laptop etc.) to connect to your router without having to plug into a wired cable. Fibre broadband on the other hand refers to the internet connection your router uses to send and receive data from your house to the wider world. Fibre optic cables and by extension fibre broadband are able to bring hi-speed internet to your home. Once it reaches your home, your Wi-Fi set-up will determine how well you are able to use those speeds.
So you now have lightning-fast fibre broadband, see what you can do to maximise your Wi-Fi speed and range to get the strongest signal anywhere in your home.
1. Run a speed test
There are many reasons why you might have slow Wi-Fi, but it’s good practice to start with the basics. Run an internet speed test to see what kind of internet speed the router sees before it gets converted to a wireless signal.
If you do not see at least 5 Mbps at the very least, you might have a problem with your Internet Service Provider (ISP) — 20 Mbps is more common, but your exact speed will depend on your internet plan with your ISP.
If your current speed doesn’t match the plan you’re paying for, contact your ISP or upgrade your router if it’s old.
Similarly, if you’re receiving the expected speed for your plan yet it still feels slow, an upgrade to your internet subscription might be needed.
2. Position is everything
Since most routers send Wi-Fi signals out in all directions, you should place your router in a central location to ensure optimal signal throughout your home. Wi-Fi signals get absorbed by walls, so putting your router in an open spot near the centre of your home is best. If you must place your router against a wall make sure to not place it next to a load bearing wall. This is because Wi-Fi signals need line of sight to travel and passing through a thicker wall or lots of furniture may weaken the signal. Placing your router in the corner of the house or near the window may also be sending a large portion of your signal outside the house.
You can also boost your Wi-Fi signal by placing your router as high as possible. However, you want to avoid putting your router near metal objects, such as furniture, kitchen appliances, and mirrors. Wi-Fi signals bounce off metal surfaces instead of passing through them. Avoid placing your router near a pool, hot tub, or even a fish tank, as water absorbs Wi-Fi signals, too.
3. Use Wi-Fi extenders
Let’s face it, you can’t always place the Wi-Fi in the most central, obstruction less location within the house for a number of reasons. It may need re-wiring, look unsightly or just not practical for you. The best solution is to get Wi-Fi extenders. These are small inconspicuous devices that work by receiving your existing Wi-Fi signal, amplifying it and then transmitting the boosted signal. You can buy these online or through your telecoms provider to improve coverage in your house. The pros of using extenders is that they are relatively inexpensive, plug into a socket (without unsightly wires), expand coverage in hard to reach areas like attic. The cons are that they most often broadcast on a new network of their own and at lower bandwidth than your original router.
If extenders don’t work in your home, consider upgrading your router or getting a mesh network.
4. Update to the latest firmware
Updating your router’s firmware ensures the latest security features on your network are being used. It can also repair any bugs and fix connectivity issues that could be slowing down your Wi-Fi signal.
Updating your router’s firmware will depend on your router. Some routers update automatically, while others require a file to be downloaded from the manufacturer’s website and then uploaded to your router’s settings page.