Internet speeds and Wi-Fi have improved significantly over the last decade. Download and upload speeds are getting faster by the day and WiFi connectivity is more reliable than ever. WiFi is everywhere…. It’s in our Smart Homes, our businesses, in restaurants, in airports and even some cities such as Inverness have even started offering Free Wireless Internet in their city centres. However, Wi-Fi is still not perfect, when it is working, it is great, but when it isn’t working people get grumpy!
The internet is like electricity, you only notice that it’s there when it stops working…
Inverness Cabling and WiFi deals with wifi problems on a daily basis. Sometimes the issue is related to the Internet Service Provider (ISP) – like BT, SKY etc – but more often than not it is something that can be fixed quite easily.
Here are some of the most common wifi problems we respond to and how you can fix the issue yourself.
- Slow internet
- Wifi signal is weak or dropping intermittently
Any of these problems can not only cause frustrations but in a work environment can cause a huge amount of downtime and lost productivity.
From here on the article gets a bit nerdy and has a few technical terms. If you battle to understand then get in touch for a free WiFi Survey/Audit of your home or business.
The first thing you should do if you suspect your internet connection isn’t up to speed is do an internet speed test with www.speedtest.net on a wireless device and then connect a computer with a cable directly to your router and do another test. If the two tests produce similar results then it is likely that the speed problem is with your ISP. You could contact them to check if faster speeds are possible in your area and check what package you are on. Quite often a call to your service provider is all that is needed to improve your internet speed. If your area is not capable of getting faster internet from BT and the likes, all is not lost as we are able to get you faster internet by other means. Contact us to discuss this further.
However… if the speed tests between a WiFi connection and a wired connection differ substantially i.e. WiFi is a lot slower than a wired connection, then you have a problem with your WiFi that needs to be investigated further.
WiFi Signal is weak or dropping intermittently
A weak signal is the source of most frustrations with WiFi. It can lead to a slow connection speed as well as devices regularly dropping the connection.
There are several reasons for a weak wifi signal
Distance from the router
One of the main causes of a bad Wi-Fi signal is the distance from the router. Consumer WiFi routers and wireless access points generally have low-power broadcasts to prevent interference with other equipment in the same environment. This low-power broadcast limits effective range of the WiFi signal (especially through walls and floors). The WiFi routers that are provided by domestic Internet Services Providers have very weak signal transmitters and are really only good enough for small residential buildings where you are never too far away from the WiFi router. In short, the closer your are to your WiFi router or access point, the stronger your signal will be. You can check if the distance to your router is the source of the problem by doing a speed test close to the router. If your test is fast close to the router and slow when far from the router then distance is your problem. This can be solved by moving closer to the Wifi router or by buying a more powerful router. Alternatively you can also add more Access Points to cover the areas where the signal is weak.
Walls, Floors and Ceilings
Another huge factor that will influence the strength of your WiFi signal throughout your home or business is that WiFi does not penetrate walls, floors and ceilings very effectively. It does ok with the drywall partitions and wooden floors in newer buildings but does not handle stone/concrete very well especially those old stone buildings in Scotland. Almost always, the most effective way to achieve a strong WiFi signal in a building is to add more WiFi access points to boost the signal in the weak spots. This can either be done with a meshed WiFi system or by installing a network cable into the poor wifi area and then connecting a WiFi access point to that.
WiFi interference is caused when a signal from another device crosses paths with your signal on a similar bandwidth. This can then corrupt or overpower your signal which could lead to a weak signal or the signal dropping completely. The list of devices that has been known to cause WiFi interference is extensive and is literally anything that uses wifi or operates on the same frequency.
Here is a list of the common sources of interference:
Wireless Devices – Technically speaking, any device transmitting or receiving a wireless signal is capable of causing an interference to your WiFi signal. If you’re experiencing WiFi issues, look for items such as wireless speakers, two way radios, baby monitors and some remote controls that could be causing this.
Microwaves – Most microwaves in homes operate on the 2.4GHz spectrum, which is the same spectrum that a lot of wireless devices operate on (especially older or less expensive models), so makes sure that your router is not anywhere near your microwave otherwise you could have WiFi issues.
Neighbouring WiFi Network – This is a regular source of interference in WiFi networks. Generally, your home/office WiFi routers can push the signal to your neighbours and vice versa (this is evident when other SSID’s can be seen when viewing WiFi networks) . This can cause congestion and interference on certain spectrums which can affect your signal and performance.
In most instances, changing the channel on your WiFi router will solve a frequency interference issue. Running a spectrum analyser in your home or office will give you an idea of which channels are most commonly used so that you can steer clear of those and select less congested channels. More advanced routers will also allow you to broadcast on the 5GHz frequency which will help to eliminate most frequency issues. This is actually the most effective solution at present but as more and more devices start using the 5GHz frequency you will soon need to start using your spectrum analyser to find less congested channels in this frequency.
Conclusions & Resolutions
There has been huge progress in recent years that has made WiFi fast, reliable and secure. BUT…. WiFi performance will never be as good as wired performance. For best internet connectivity, a combination of a wired and wireless network is a preferred solution.
To increase your chances of having a more reliable WiFi network, your first task should be to look at the equipment providing the service i.e. your WiFi Router and the WiFi Access Points. If you are still using the equipment supplied by your ISP then you should consider upgrading to equipment capable of using the 802.11ac frequency and can broadcast on both the 2.5Ghz and 5GHz spectrum (i.e. dual frequency). For current devices on your network, you should ensure that your firmware is always kept up to to date. Manufacturers are constantly finding ways to improve the capability and performance of their devices, so checking regularly for the latest firmware releases is good practice to keep everything up to date.
Last but not least… When designing your WiFi network you should consider the location of the devices on the network that will need WiFi (such as laptops, printers, TV’s and mobiles), this will help you to prioritise where to place your WiFi router and access points for maximum WiFi efficiency. If you are in doubt, consider speaking to us about having a WiFi survey or audit, you can contact us via our Contact Page.