Everyone’s had their share of getting “dead spots” in their wireless network. We all know the frustration of being interrupted during a stream so the video can buffer or waiting patiently for a webpage to load only to get a “No Internet Connection” message. You don’t have to stay frustrated anymore since there are a number of things you can try to extend your WiFi coverage and improve your WiFi signal.

Change the Channel

Do you know that routers have wireless channel settings? Routers that are operating on the same channel are inadvertently interfering with one another, which can result to diminished performance. To change the channel your router operates on, log in to your router’s Web interface and set its channel to the one that is less used.

Alternatively, you can also try using a tool like inSSIDer (you need to purchase it) or the free WifiInfoView in order to see which channel your router is currently set to. These tools will present you with a lot of information, but you only need to focus on the one labelled as “Channel.” Find your router and make note of which channel it is currently operating on. From here, you will be able to identify which channels are being used by the routers in your general area. From there, go ahead and set your router to a different channel and then see if it makes a difference with your wireless reception.

Which Frequency: 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz?

Most modern routers are classified as “dual band.” This means that they operate on both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies. The biggest difference between the two bands is speed. The 2.4 GHz band supports 450 to 600 Mbps, whereas the 5 GHz band supports 1300 Mbps. The 2.4 GHz band has a longer range and is better at passing through obstructions. That being said, many devices, like cordless phones, use the 2.4 GHz frequency. More devices using the same band means more congestion on that frequency. If you’ve ever been in a traffic jam, then you can probably see where this is going. 2.4 GHz has an advantage in range and overcoming potential obstacles; however, it is much more susceptible to dropouts and slower speeds.

The 5 GHz band is less congested, meaning that it generally provides a speedier, more stable connection. While this seems attractive, just remember it doesn’t have the same range and can be finicky when presented with physical interference. Generally speaking, apartments and smaller homes should benefit from 5 GHz, whereas larger homes might be better with 2.4 GHz. If you have a dual band router that supports both 2.4 and 5 GHz, experiment with both to see which gets you better results.

Relocate the Router

 

A wireless signal has to travel from its point of origin (the router) to your device. Take a moment to think about all of the things that signal has to pass through before it can reach you. Walls, doors, furniture and other physical obstructions can have a negative impact on your WiFi signal. As a wireless signal passes through solid objects, it becomes weaker. This is why your device will show fewer reception bars as you move further away from your router.

When you throw a rock into a body of water, the water ripples in all directions. Your router works exactly the same way. It evenly distributes your WiFi signal in all directions. If you place your router at one end of your house and are having trouble picking up the signal at the other end, it may be beneficial to move the router to a more central location. This will blanket your entire house with the WiFi signal as opposed to sending half of it outside.

Unable to move your router to a central location? There are still things you can try to improve WiFi throughout the house. If your router has external antennas like the one pictured above, you can position the antenna towards your weak spots. With internal antennas you can’t move, try to position the router higher up. Moving it higher might alleviate interference from physical obstructions like furniture.

Use a Wireless Repeater or Powerline Adapters

 

If you think that your problem with wireless connection is due to obstruction or intereference from other electronic equipment, consider getting a WiFi repeater.  A repeater (also known as an extender) essentially picks up the signal transmitted from your router and throws it further. As an added plus, a repeater is very noob-friendly as it doesn’t require any wires. Simply plug the repeater into a wall socket (about halfway between your router and the problem area), and you’re good to go. Results can be hit or miss. Try placing the repeater in different spots around the house. And make sure you hang on to the receipt.

 

A better, but more costly, alternative to repeaters are powerline adapters. These use the existing electrical wiring in your home or office to extend your network. Plug one of the adapters into a wall socket near your router and run an Ethernet cable between the two. Plug in the other powerline adapter somewhere else in the house, and connect a device like a computer or game console via Ethernet. Powerline adapters generally boast good performance, as it is similar to running a really long Ethernet cable to your problem area. Just make sure that your house or office all runs on the same electrical circuit.

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This entry was posted by Staff Writer on Saturday, July 22, 2017 at 6:26:37 AM and is filed under Tech Tips & Tricks.

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