In the midst of this Information Age we navigate daily, we tend to find ourselves on invisible on and off-ramps of the Information Highway. Having reliable WiFi is critical to many of us, as we roam about the office, get work done at a coffee shop or meet at a client’s location. Without WiFi, we just do not have the tools we need to be productive. And having sluggish internet or poor WiFi can be even worse, as it holds the promise of productivity … only to tease as we struggle to get it done. There are 10 steps to speed-up your WiFi to find peace, productivity and satisfaction.
First, put your Access Point/Radio in the center of the area you need WiFi coverage. Imagine those short antennas are going to create a radiating bubble of signals. Once in the center of the area, you want covered, get it over head. Most WiFi Access Points operate a frequency of 2.4GHz (GigaHertz). At that frequency, much like the 2.1GHz of most microwave ovens, the energy of the radio signals are absorbed my masses of water. So, get it up high, so human bodies do not block your signals.
Secondly, Tweak the antennas of the Access Point. If it has external antennas, that is. Make sure the antennas are vertical. Most laptops and tablets have their antennas internal and running vertical (or near vertical) when the device is in use. For laptops, the antennas usually run on either side of the screen in the ‘lid’. When antennas are on the same plane, they tend to work better together.
Third, Secure your WiFi. This prevents unauthorized people and machines from using your bandwidth while you are trying to use it, as well. Only so many cars can be on the same road, before there is traffic jam.
Fourth, Switch to 5GHz. Newer devices are ‘Dual Band’, meaning they operate on both the 2.4GHz mentioned earlier, but also on the 5GHz radio frequency band. Between microwave ovens a plethora of devices on the same 2.4GHz radio band, it can get quite crowded in your home or office. There are far fewer devices on the 5GHz band, so … take advantage of that breathing room.
Fifth, Powerline Network Adapters can be useful, especially where there are no network cables to connect an Access Point to. They can be very handy and save considerable money on the installation of dedicated network cables, when trying to get a central area covered.
Sixth, Move to less crowded channels. Within both bands, are ‘channels’ the access points use. On the 2.4GHz band, there are 11 channels that over lap. Because of this, the best channels to use are 1, 6 and 11. On the 5GHz band there are 24 NON-overlapping channels to choose from. Using applications such as WiFi analytics from Amped Wireless, you can identify other devices on the band, which channels they are using and what channels are available in your area for the best coverage.
Seventh, Use a ‘Heat Mapping’ program. This allows you to see how strong a signal is on the outer edges of your coverage area. By using the map, you can determine where to move the Access Point to, how to adjust antennas for better signal strength, and so on.
Eighth, Upgrade your old router. In the last 5 years, WiFi and internet technologies have really come a long way. Some say if your router is older than that 5 years, it should be replaced. Many ‘Power WiFi Users’ would change the value from 5 years to 2 or 3. Especially for products on the lower end of the cost spectrum made for the low volume home user. WiFi hardware IS still one of those areas where you do actually get what you pay for. So, if WiFi is critical to you, please invest is reasonable kit.
Nineth, Turn your old routers into WiFi repeaters. There is software on those routers that define how it works and what it can do. But that software can be replaced with custom ‘firmware’, that is often free, and can change how the device functions. When that router changes from a router to a WiFi Bridge, this is a great solution to extending your signal coverage without cabling.
Lastly, Contact someone like Indy’s I.T. Department. We have the experience and knowledge to troubleshoot and pinpoint failed or old equipment. We can also recommend alternative equipment or ‘add-on’ such as a different antenna configuration to help reach those long distances between end user and Access Point.
Indy’s I.T. Department can be reached at 317-560-4443. Call them, today, to look into your WiFi coverage issues.