WiFi coverage is affected by many factors in and around your property, including the devices you’re using such as phones and laptops. Here are a few key factors that may help you to get the best from your wireless network:
Location of your router:
Your wireless router transmits and receives information to and from your wireless devices. Ideally, this should be located as near as reasonably possible to the areas in your property where you need WiFi the most. Devices that use media streaming such as Smart TVs, gaming devices etc. tend to me most sensitive to the strength of the WiFi signal.
Walls and property size:
The strength of your wireless signal reduces with distance, but it’s also affected by absorption or reflection in walls. Sometimes this is easy to see, if the property has thick walls. But, some types of modern insulated plasterboard or double-glazed windows can also have a significant effect on the wireless signal. If your WiFi network used the faster 5Ghz band (instead or, or as well as, the 2.4Ghz band) the effect of walls and distance is far greater. It’s advised to use the 5Ghz band within the same room as the router, as it may not work effectively through walls.
Type and location of your wireless devices:
WiFi works across thousands of different types of devices, but they all follow industry standards for communication and security. Where multiple wireless devices are connected to the same router (such as TVs, laptops and smartphones), they must communicate with each other to ensure they all get a share of the WiFi capacity. By communicating between themselves, WiFi devices can ‘agree’ whose turn it is to send or receive data from the internet. In some cases, not all WiFi devices can talk to each other, for example where there’s a laptop at one end of a property, a router in the middle and a smartphone at the other end. In this case, both devices can communicate with the router, but the may not ‘hear’ each other and therefore, can’t agree whose turn it is to access the router.
This scenario can have a negative effect on all the devices in the network. Equally, if one wireless device has a very poor signal, but all others are good, the router will spend a disproportionate time re-sending information to the weakest device, reducing the capacity for all others.
Channel number and channel width:
General, wide channels (40Mhz) or higher have the highest data capacity and can therefore send or receive data faster. However, wide channels are also more likely to overlap with other wireless routers if nearby, which creates interference that reduces speeds. Sometimes a narrow channel (20Mhz) can therefore give faster real-world performance.
Security and data encryption:
Always ensure that your WiFi network has encryption enabled. The best levels of encryption are based on standards knows as WPA. It’s not generally advised to use the older WEP encryption method. Please note that some very old wireless devices do not support WPA.
Interference from other sources:
Some non-WiFi equipment is permitted to transmit date on the 2.4Ghz WiFi band and can cause interference or reduced performance on your WiFi network.
This equipment can include:
- Baby monitors
- DECT cordless phones
- Xbox controllers
- Some alarm and door entry systems
- Microwave ovens
- Zigbee remote controllers (used by some smart home devices)
It’s generally recommended to locate your router and wireless devices as far away as possible from these types of equipment.
Most WiFi routers use up-to-date standards (or protocols) to communicate with associated WiFi devices. However, some older equipment may not be compatible with the latest standards. If you find that older devices can’t connect to your wireless network, please consider replacing this equipment or you may have to change the protocol standards on your router.
Using wireless extenders and repeaters:
You can boost your wireless covering using specialised equipment to add WiFi repeaters or extenders. While these can be an effective way to improve the coverage in your home, they must be set up correctly or they can cause lower speeds and reduce reliability. We recommend using our Smart WiFi system. You can find out more here.