improve-internet-connectivity

Improve internet connectivity in your home

In today’s era of smart home technology, Wi-Fi and home networks have become the backbone of our daily lives. So how can you improve the internet connectivity in your home?

 

Here’s a few things to look at to improve your home networks speed, reliability, and coverage.

Check your Wired Connection:

Before you blame the Wi-Fi, make sure the internet coming into your house is performing as it should. You can do this by connecting your computer directly to the router using an Ethernet cable.

Run a speed test in a browser to see your internet speed. I use Speedof.me, but there’s plenty of sites out there to use.
If it doesn’t match the speed your paying for, you may need to call your Internet Service Provider or consider replacing your router or modem.

If your speed test does match your internet bill, but it still seems slow, it may be time to upgrade. Remember if you’re on the minimum package it’s likely to be achingly slow.

If everything seems okay, try running the test again wirelessly, standing right next to the router. If you get similarly good speeds here, but not elsewhere in the house, then your Wi-Fi coverage may be to blame.
If your internet is still slow standing right next to the router, you may have some outdated equipment that might need an upgrade.

Upgrade Your Router:

If you’re still using an older router or a low quality one supplied by your Internet Service Provider, consider upgrading to a newer model that supports the latest Wi-Fi standards like Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax).

Newer routers offer faster speeds, better coverage and improved performance. The minimum you should be using now is Wi-Fi 4 (802.11n), nothing lower.

It’s a good idea to get the most out of your existing equipment, but if you’re running old hardware, you can’t expect the best performance. We have a tendency to subscribe to the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality with back-end devices, especially networking gear. However, if you bought your router years ago, you might still be using the older, slower 802.11n standard (or God forbid, 802.11g).

These older routers may cap at fairly low bandwidths and may even have shorter ranges. For instance, the maximum throughput for 802.11g (Wi-Fi 3) is 54Mbps, while 802.11n (Wi-Fi 4) caps out at 300Mbps. All the tweaking we’ve outlined above will only get you so far with one of these older models.

However, if you upgrade to a new router with the latest 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5) standard, you get support for 1Gbps. Meanwhile, next-gen Wi-Fi 6 routers can theoretically hit 10Gbps, and Wi-Fi 6E routers have access to even more spectrum that can offer additional coverage. Plus, you’ll get modern features like QoS, and better channel selection and band steering for 5GHz devices.
Some newer routers also have features like Multi User-Multiple Input Multiple Output (MU-MIMO). MU-MIMO routers can send and receive multiple data streams simultaneously to multiple devices without bandwidth degradation and require specialized testing with multiple clients, but the clients need to be MU-MIMO compatible.

Even if your router is new, you might have some ancient devices that are falling back to older, slower standards. If you bought a PC within the last 10 years, you likely have an 802.11ac wireless adapter, or at least 802.11n. But the older your devices, the less likely they are to have modern tech built in.

For these machines, you might be able to buy a USB Wi-Fi adapter that plugs into a USB port and improves connectivity. This way you don’t have to completely replace your computer just to take advantage of new Wi-Fi technology.

Optimise Wi-Fi Router Placement:

You can easily improve your internet connectivity by placing your Wi-Fi router in a central location in your home, away from obstructions like walls, metal objects, and electronic devices that can interfere with the signal. Elevating the router off the floor and positioning antennas vertically can also help improve coverage.

Central locations provide the best signal coverage across your entire building. For houses, if your router or access point is on the ground floor, place the router or access point high on a shelf to provide a stronger signal for devices on the first floor and above.

Walls, floors, and metal objects can interfere and weaken your router’s wireless signals. Locate your router to avoid these kinds of obstructions as best as possible.

Not all homes will distribute Wi-Fi signal equally. The fact is, where you place the router can hugely affect your wireless coverage. It may seem logical to have the router inside a cabinet and out of the way, or right by the window where the cable comes in, but that’s not always the case.

Use additional Wi-Fi Access Points:

If you have areas in your home with poor Wi-Fi coverage the best solution is to add additional WiFi access points. This can majorly improve your internet connectivity. You could also use extenders (or repeaters) of even power line adapters but these tend to give a poorer performance.

Access Points (APs), and extenders/repeaters (sometimes also known as boosters) are often confused. This is partly due to the fact that some devices can be placed in different modes, allowing them to do several things, including extend/boost a WiFi signal, as well as act as an AP, depending on network requirements.

An AP normally attaches to your router (or a switch) with an ethernet cable, and transmits/receives its own signal via in-built radios. WiFi devices (clients) such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops etc. can connect up directly to it (as a hotspot) and depending on the size of the premises or area needing coverage, several APs may be required.
This is generally the best ways to increase a WiFi coverage.

A repeater/extender is very similar to an access point, but its job is to simply expand existing router signal coverage over a larger area. This is ideal in certain situations, particularly for home users with few existing WiFi devices, and with no desire to route cabling around their home. The downside to a repeater/extender however, is the fact it has to talk in two directions, i.e. take the router signal, and then throw it out for client devices to pick up. This effectively halves any available signal at the client end, so each repeater/extender needs careful placement, in order to maximise WiFi reception.

Alternatively, Powerline adapters, are similar to an access point, but are fashioned as discreet plugs that utilise plug/power sockets and your existing home/office existing wiring to send and receive data.

Powerline adapters are simple to use. You plug one into a power socket next to your router, and connect it up with an Ethernet cable. You then plug another into a socket wherever you are experiencing drop-outs or dead zones in your WiFi signal. And that’s it. The downside is the reliability. If its connected on the same circuit then it maybe OK, but if the signal has to go through the main board, you might want to think again.

Buy equipment from a single manufacturer:

Although routers and wireless access points from different manufacturers work together, they might perform better if produced by the same manufacturer.

These improvements can be helpful if you’re using wireless-G devices to transmit over a long distance or live in an older house where thicker walls can block more of the signal.

Use Ethernet Connections:

Whenever possible, connect devices directly to the router using Ethernet cables.

Wired connections typically offer faster and more reliable speeds compared to Wi-Fi.

Update The Router Firmware:

Before you start tweaking things, it’s a good idea to update your router’s firmware. Router manufacturers are always improving software to eke out a bit more speed. How easy—or how hard—it is to upgrade your firmware depends entirely on your device’s manufacturer and model.

Most current routers have the update process built right into the administration interface, so it’s just a matter of hitting a firmware upgrade button. Older models still require you to visit the manufacturer’s website, download a firmware file from your router’s support page, and upload it to the administration interface. It’s tedious, but still a good thing to do since it would be such a simple fix.

In fact, even if your wireless network isn’t ailing, you should make it a point to update your firmware on a regular basis for performance improvements, better features, and security updates.

Optimise Wi-Fi Settings:

A more complicated way to improve your internet connectivity is by accessing your router’s settings interface and adjust Wi-Fi settings for optimal performance. This may include selecting the best Wi-Fi channel, enabling Quality of Service (QoS) to prioritise certain types of traffic and adjusting transmission power. This can be a slightly daunting task if you are not familiar with it, but is well worth doing.

Wireless routers can broadcast on several different channels. If you encounter interference, try changing the wireless router’s channel through the router’s configuration page, which you can usually find by opening your web browser and typing in the IP address in the address bar. You do not have to change your device’s configuration, because it can automatically detect the new channel.
Take a look at your network’s administrator interface and make sure you have it configured for optimal performance. If you have a dual-band router, you’ll likely get better throughput by switching to the 5GHz band instead of using the more common 2.4GHz band.
Not only does 5GHz offer faster speeds, but you’ll likely encounter less interference from other wireless networks and devices because the frequency is not as commonly used. Note, though, that it doesn’t handle obstructions and distances quite as well, so it won’t necessarily reach as far as a 2.4GHz signal does.

Most modern dual-band routers should offer the option to use the same network name, or SSID, on both bands. Check your router’s administration interface, look for the 5GHz network option, and give it the same SSID and password as your 2.4GHz network. That way, your devices will automatically choose the best signal. If your router doesn’t let you use the same SSID, just give it another name—like ElectricPlayground-5GHz—and try to connect to it manually whenever possible.

Most modern routers come with Quality of Service (QoS) tools to limit the amount of bandwidth that apps use. QoS settings can typically be found under advanced settings in the network’s administrator interface.

For example, you could use QoS to prioritize video calls over file downloads—that way, your call with grandma won’t drop just because someone else is grabbing a big file from Dropbox. The file may take longer to download, but it should keep the video call looking nice. Some QoS settings even allow you to prioritize different apps at specific times of day.

Some routers may make it easier by offering a one-click multimedia or gaming setting, so you know those applications will be prioritized.

Reduce wireless interference:

The most common wireless technology, 802.11g (wireless-G), operates at a frequency of 2.4 gigahertz (GHz). Many wireless electronics such as cordless telephones, microwave ovens, baby monitors, and garage door openers use this same frequency. As a result, their signal noise could interfere with the connection between your device and router.

To reduce noise, buy cordless telephones and other devices that use the 5.8 GHz or 900 megahertz (MHz) frequencies. Because 802.11n (wireless-N) operates at both 2.4 GHz and the less frequently used 5.0 GHz frequency, these higher GHz devices may cause less network interference.

Interference is a big issue, especially for those who live in densely populated areas. Signals from other wireless networks can impact speeds, not to mention some cordless phone systems, microwaves, and other electronic devices.
Ever play with walkie-talkies as a kid? You may remember how the units needed to be on the same “channel” in order for you to hear each other. And if you happened to be on the same channel as your neighbor, you could listen in on someone else’s conversation, even if they were using a completely different set. In that same vein, all modern routers can switch across different channels when communicating with your devices.

Most routers will choose the channel for you, but if neighboring wireless networks are also using the same channel, you’ll encounter signal congestion. A good router set to Automatic will try to choose the least congested channel, but older or cheaper routers may just choose a predefined channel, even if it isn’t the best one. That could be a problem.

In general, you want 2.4GHz set to channels 1, 6, and 11 since they’re the only ones that don’t overlap with other channels (which can degrade performance). 5GHz generally uses non-overlapping channels, however, which should make selecting the right one much easier.

If you find the Auto setting isn’t working well for you, sign into your router’s administrator interface, head to the basic wireless category, and try selecting one manually (ideally, one that isn’t in use by many networks in your area). Run another speed test to see if that provides a better signal and faster speeds over the Automatic setting in your problem areas.
Keep in mind that channel congestion can change over time, so if you choose a channel manually, you may want to check in once in a while to make sure it’s still the best one.

Kick off Intruders:

It’s entirely possible the problem has nothing to do with interference or Wi-Fi range. If your network is open, or has a weak password, you could have an unwanted guest or two piggybacking on your network. If the neighbour is downloading multiple 4K movies on your Wi-Fi, your video chats will suffer.

Your router’s admin interface may also have a traffic analyzer of some sort that will tell you which devices are using lots of data. You may even find one of your own kids is sucking up bandwidth without you realizing it.

Once you find the intruder and remedy the problem, secure your network with a strong password—preferably WPA2 or WPA3, since WEP is notoriously easy to crack—so others can’t join in.

Replace your device wireless card-based network adapter

Wireless network signals are sent to and from your computer. Devices with built-in wireless networking typically have excellent antennas. Sometimes, however, the router can broadcast to your device, but your device can’t send signals back to the router. To resolve this issue, replace your card-based wireless network adapter with a USB wireless network adapter that uses an external antenna.

Ask An Expert:

Not all of the above tips are for the faint-hearted. If you’re not comfortable making these adjustments yourself, then consider getting an expert to help you improve internet connectivity in your home.

 

We’re connecting more and more devices onto the home network, such as TVs, audio systems, phones, laptops, doorbells and more, and they all compete with each other on the network. Ultimately, your smart home will only be as good as the network infrastructure that supports it.

For anyone planning a building project or just want to improve your networking performance, why not give us call or drop us a line.

As a professional CEDIA integrator we can help plan your wired and wireless infrastructure.

 

Back to News

Have a look at What we Do