Are you missing out on good WiFi speeds?
In a world in which the majority of people now live and breathe in digital and having WiFi problems is worse than no hot water, speed and connection is everything.
This has become especially important during lockdown. With the majority of us still isolated from our families and friends and many still working and learning from home, slow WiFi can be maddening.
Whether it’s during work and school hours or when you’re trying to FaceTime your friend while your kids are on the Play Station, buffering can really slow things down and become frustrating. However, you’ll be glad to hear there are ways to fix this!
We’ve put together 5 tips to help you understand why your home WiFi speeds are so slow.
- Test your speed
- Test your coverage
- Make sure your router is new
- Don't rely on WiFi extenders
- Consider upgrading to Smart WiFi
1. Test your speed
The first step is to run a speed test to check the speed of the internet coming to your devices. To do this, you can simply Google ‘WiFi speed test’ or download the phone app Speed Smart which will allow you to test the speed of your WiFi and broadband connection with ease. Alternatively, a good website to use is Ookla.
You want to check that the speeds you are getting on the test apps are close to what you paid for from your internet provider (usually shown on your bill or online account). An important thing to note here when you’re doing your speed test, is that you need to make sure no one else is using the WiFi so you can test the speed at its full capacity.
The first step is to perform a test when stood beside your broadband router, how did that perform? If you are getting around half the speed or more of what your Internet service provides, you’re looking good.
Nowhere near what you pay for? Try a different device (maybe another laptop or smart phone) and re-test.
If you still are miles off, it is possible to plug in to your router from a laptop (you will need a network card and cable) and test again to make sure your broadband service is performing as it should.
These speed test results allow you to establish how good your raw WiFi speed is and which devices may be altering its effectiveness to help you to establish where the problem in your internet connection lies and why your WiFi is so slow.
2. Test your coverage
It’s also a good idea to test your coverage by testing WiFi speeds in different areas of the house. For this, you can use the same app as above.
When testing your coverage throughout your home, bear in mind that WiFi can be affected by the structure of your property including stone walls, steel, and even underfloor heating!
If you live in an old stone cottage, the walls of your home might be much thicker than a modern home and reduce the bandwidth in certain areas as the WiFi struggles to pass through. Certain areas of your home might not get as much WiFi coverage because of steel support, fireplaces, anything dense or metal within a direct line of the router to your device will block or reduce the signal. Draw an imaginary wire pulled tight from the router to your device and think about what is in the way, that’s what the WiFi must pass through!
If your home falls into any of these structural categories, you’ll need to consider where you’re putting your WiFi router and perhaps look at a new WiFi solution.
Because of the above, many homeowners struggle with static, internet connected devices such as Smart Televisions, Apple TV or streaming music players. If you’re having trouble with these not connecting to the WiFi, you might need to rethink the position. If, for example, your WiFi router is in your study but your Smart TV is in your garden room at the other end of the house, the WiFi will naturally be weaker. If you can’t move your Smart TV, it might be time to rethink your WiFi solution and opt for a smarter option.
3. Make sure your router is new
A common problem homeowners have with their WiFi is that their router is too old! Companies are constantly updating and utilising the best technology to create the newest and best WiFi solutions, so you need to stay on top of the latest technology to have the best WiFi speeds!
The WiFi technology in use has changed dramatically in the last 3-4 years, with the introduction of 5GHz wireless. This frequency band provides the best speeds and more channels so that you are much less likely to interfere with your nearby neighbours own WiFi systems.
Older 2.4GHz wireless bands were limited to fewer channels and much slower speeds. A very common symptom is known as ‘Channel Hopping’ where older broadband routers keep swapping channels to avoid interference, cutting everyone using the WiFi off for a moment while they try and reconnect.
Upgrading your WiFi to a newer 5GHz router will often remove problems with speed, disconnection, and coverage. Therefore, it is important to keep up to date.
If you’ve been with your internet provider for a while (generally over 18 months) they will even upgrade your router for free if you renew your service!
4. Don't rely on WiFi extenders
Wi-Fi extenders or repeaters are often people’s first go-to when their WiFi starts acting up or their coverage isn’t what they had initially hoped. We’re here to tell you that this often isn’t actually going to solve your problems. These solutions can be a quick, cheap, and easy fix in some circumstances, but they frequently do not overcome the issues mentioned previously.
Many WiFi extenders and repeaters make use of the mains wiring in the house to provide a network link (sometimes called powerline devices). If the main unit and repeater unit are wired to the same socket ring-main these can be a quick fix too.
But there are problems…
Mains is noisy and you will of course have lots of different things plugged in all causing interference. For example, if you turn a heater on while trying to watch Netflix it may well interrupt the signal.
This is especially important to consider for larger homes as, owing to the nature of the electrical mains in bigger properties with multiple ring-mains and fuse boards, mains-based extenders aren’t able to perform as they are supposed to. Therefore, whilst advertised as giving you increased WiFi coverage and performance throughout your home, WiFi extenders and repeaters may actually do more harm than good.
We’d recommend saving your money and opting for another solution that won’t just end up being thrown in a drawer!
5. Consider upgrading to Smart WiFi
The quickest and easiest way to improve your WiFi, without all the hassle and complication, is to upgrade to a Smart Meshed WiFi solution. These systems will provide you with the huge reach and speed that you need to cater for all members of your household and all devices, all within a single system. Smart WiFi works by installing multiple, discreet ‘access points’ across your home, all constantly communicating with one another.
Now, we know what you’re thinking: ‘Isn’t this the same as WiFi extenders?’ The answer is no. Smart WiFi provides the coverage that extenders would bring, but without compromising on speed, aesthetic, coverage and drop-outs when you move around the property.
These systems use a ‘meshed’ network, the access points are placed around your house which are connected to the main WiFi router through either data cabling or wirelessly. With a meshed network, your WiFi learns and adapts to interference from other WiFi networks meaning the coverage and speeds will work better for you! Plus, installation is simple with often no need for rewiring.
The system itself has the capability to automatically establish the best access point depending on where you are, your devices connect quickly and remain connected as they only see one big single network – this means no channel hopping!
If you’re worried about aesthetic, the access points can be hidden away out of sight somewhere and operate 24 hours a day boosting your signal and performance.
You will never compromise on speed, quality, or bandwidth with Smart Meshed WiFi.