We offer some straightforward advice to improve the quality of your Wi-Fi connection
We’ve all been there when working from home. Patchy internet signals, problems with uploading and downloading, blurred images and muffled voices on video conferencing calls. Some of us reset our routers every so often in the hopes of improving Wi-Fi signals. Many others have considered changing internet providers, or perhaps simply sat right next to the router.
But there are often easier, simpler options to improve Wi-Fi. We discuss some of the simplest methods, so you can get through the workday without too many technical glitches.
It’s is important to understand the basics of your router. Cisco, a router manufacturer, says that routers “connect computers and other devices to the internet. A router acts as a dispatcher, choosing the best route for your information to travel”. In simple terms, a router receives information from your device, prioritises the message, and sends it out to the internet.
With that said, it’s best to position the router somewhere open and easy to access. Having the machine in your cupboard or drawers can interfere with signal strength. To best improve your home Wi-Fi, NetSpot says to make sure that the router is in a central place and isn’t covered up.
How secure is your router? Most home routers require a password. If your password is insecure – for example, ‘12345678’ – unauthorised guests may be tapping into your Wi-Fi.
These unwanted guests and their connected devices will slow down the Wi-Fi, especially if they are streaming or downloading. The unwanted guests can also pose a cyber security threat, so it’s essential that you secure your password.
Your router normally works on different ‘bands’, like 5GHz or 2GHz frequencies. Many household appliances, devices, and speakers also use those same frequencies. This interference could slow down your Wi-Fi or interrupt the internet connection all together.
To improve your home Wi-Fi, turn off other devices when you’re not using them or store them away from the router. The same goes for wireless gadgets.
For those living in congested neighbourhoods, the network traffic across the same frequency channel can cause slow-downs. For example, the 2GHz Wi-Fi radio spectrum has around 13 channels.
Each channel has overlapping frequencies. This means that while your router might be on channel 9 of the 2GHz frequency, your neighbour on channel 11 might be using the same bandwidth. The result of this clash is a decrease in Wi-Fi signal.
To resolve the issue, PC Magazine recommends changing your router to manual channel settings. You’ll need to check out the internet connection settings, and change internet configuration setting channels. The setting is often under the ‘wireless settings’ function.
Before you rush into putting your router in the bin, consider a booster. Wi-Fi boosters work by increasing or amplifying the existing signals coming from the router.
These devices can help solve coverage problems and poor signal. For example, if you have an internet ‘dead’ zone in your home, a booster could help you recover that space.
For more sophisticated users, determining which programmes have priority access to your router helps increase speed. Most routers have a quality of service programme, which lets you decide what applications have priority over the bandwidth.
While different routers have different means to achieving this prioritisation, there are a couple things to consider. For video conferencing users, for example, it might be worthwhile to put Skype, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams ahead of Netflix.
For those with really troublesome connections, go back to using internet cables. Using an ethernet cable to connect directly into your modem still works.
Rather than checking for issues with your router, plugging in the ethernet cable into your computer may solve the problem.
Most people have mobile smart phones. If you haven’t discovered already, there are ways to share your internet connection with other devices. Mobile phones can generate ‘hotspots’, where computers can connect to the internet.
In dire situations, you can tap into your mobile for a connection.
We’ve reviewed how working from home is here to stay. To make the best out of your home office, it might also be worthwhile to upgrade your existing internet plan.