Like most people, you probably use Wi-Fi for internet connectivity in your house. Wi-Fi connects your phones, tablets, and laptops to the internet. And also, your TVs, streaming devices, security systems, kitchen gadgets, and household appliances.
With all that going on, ensuring your Wi-Fi delivers everything it can is a good idea. Let’s jump in.
Think of your Wi-Fi router as a sprinkler and your internet connection as the hose attached to the sprinkler. Without good water pressure, your sprinkler can’t sprinkle very far. Check your internet connection speed by going to https://fast.com or https://speedtest.net. But do it from a device directly attached to your Wi-Fi router, not from a device connected to your Wi-Fi.
Figure on around 25 Mbps per person in the household. If you’ve done the math and that’s what you’ve got at your router, then great. If not, contact your internet provider and verify the speed of your plan. Upgrade if necessary.
Old Wi-Fi equipment will slow down your speeds. If you’re using an old router that you picked up at RadioShack or your internet provider hasn’t recently sent you a new one, that will cause problems.
Most internet providers use Wi-Fi 6-class routers, which allows them to provide the speeds they advertise. If you’ve got older equipment, whether your own or theirs, it will slow down your Wi-Fi speeds.
Getting a new router from your internet provider, a big box store, or online ensures your Wi-Fi will be as fast as possible.
Wi-Fi placement and cables
Make sure you put your router where you need it the most. If the router is in the back bedroom, and your heavy internet usage happens in the living or family rooms, you need to move the router. That may take a call to your provider and cost some money, but your Wi-Fi speeds and online experience will benefit.
Newer Wi-Fi routers are also better at handling lots of devices simultaneously. Tri-band routers use the new 6 MHz band besides the 5 MHz and the old 2.4 MHz bands. When switching routers, you don’t need to reconnect all your devices. Many routers let you use your old network name and password, so most of your devices will connect to the new network just fine.
Upgrading the connecting cable between your modem and the router helps you get every Mbps from your connection. Currently, the network cables with the most capacity are Cat6E.
Congestion and extenders
If you live in a suburban area or an apartment, you may “see” many other Wi-Fi networks from your house. Many people use the default settings on their Wi-Fi router, so there’s a chance of congestion on the most common router channels. The 5 MHz band typically has less congestion than the 2.4 MHz band. Newer routers try to use the least congested channels, but chances are not all your neighbors have new routers. Check your router’s documentation (or the internet) for how to change channels on your router.
Wi-Fi extenders are not the best way to get your Wi-Fi signal where needed. Wi-Fi extenders can cause delays, congestion, and reduce capacity. If you’re having trouble reaching parts of your house, get a mesh Wi-Fi network instead of using an extender.
Funny Wi-Fi names
We’ve Been Trying to Reach You About Your Car’s Extended Warranty
New England Clam Router
Totally NOT An FBI Surveillance Van
Pretty Fly for a Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi Miss American Pie
Routers of the Lost Ark
Do you have a computer or technology question? Greg Cunningham has been providing Tehachapi with on-site PC and network services since 2007. Email Greg at firstname.lastname@example.org.