A Few Tips to Improve Your WiFi Speed and Coverage
WiFi has made dramatic improvements in technology in recent years, but are you taking advantage of these improvements? If placed properly, a single WiFi access point can easily provide complete coverage to a 3 Bedroom Apartment. Take a look at a few tips we have compiled based on our experience with many of our recent residential and commercial installations to help you improve your WiFi range and speed.
Keep a Separate Router and WiFi Access Point
A lot of homes or commercial spaces we have visited continue to use a single device which functions as both the router and distributes the WiFi Signal to your devices. This may be in the form of a basic D-Link or TP-Link router with a two or four antennas that takes the input from your Internet Service Provider’s modem, or perhaps even the Internet Service Provider’s router functions as an all-in- one device and also sends out the WiFi signal. To really improve speed and increase coverage, it’s important to keep a separate device which takes the main internet connectivity from your Internet Service Provider and distributes that connectivity to all the devices on your network, completing the routing of each device. Separately connected to the router or even a network/distribution switch, depending on the size of your network and how many connections you have, should be a WiFi Access Point. The sole purpose of the Access Point is to take a wired input connection from your network, and send that same signal wirelessly to any devices which fall into its range. If you expect one device to function as both a router and distribute the WiFi, this puts a large strain on your network and increases bottle necks, thus reducing reliability and speed.
Increase Your Coverage with Correct Placement and Multiple Access Points if Required
A major factor in how much range your WiFi will reach is determined by the actual location of the device which sends out the WiFi Signal. We’ve seen many cases where the WiFi device is hidden inside a unit or in a closed shelf for aesthetic reasons. This is going to unnecessarily limit the range your WiFi can reach if the device is hidden or obstructed. Also the higher you are able to place your WiFi device, the further it can reach unobstructed. We always suggested mounting a WiFi Access Point in the ceiling. If aesthetically that may not work for the interior design of the space, try and keep the access point inside an A/C trap door or grill so it is not visible, but still at a height. It is then important to check for deadspots once your access point is placed, and incase you are having weak or no signals in certain locations, increase your number of access points to ensure full WiFi Range throughout the space.
Choose an Access Point with 802.11 Wireless A/C Standard and Dual Bands of 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz
If you are in the market to upgrade your access point or want to purchase the latest technology, make sure you purchase an Access Point which supports the latest WiFI Standard of 802.11 AC and also supports the 5Ghz band. We know all this sounds confusing and sometimes non-essential, but taking advantage of the latest standards in wireless technology can really alleviate a major of WiFi issues. In layman’s terms, the 802.11 AC Standard allows speeds of up to 1300 MBPS per second through a Wireless connection. The previous technology of Wireless N only supported 300 MBPS speeds. So as you can imagine, you are missing out on a whole 1000 MBPS of speed throughput if you don’t use the latest WiFi standard. That means streaming music from your phone, Netflix, or any other services wireless take a huge drop and encounter buffering. With lossless audio and video becoming so much more prevalent, keeping the latest WiFi standard ensures everything streams smoothly and you can take advantage of the fastest internet speeds your Internet Service Provider can offer.
Similarly, the 5Ghz Band allows a lot of the latest devices which can operate on the 5Ghz frequency to receive a wireless signal without massive interference. The 2.4Ghz band is extremely congested, and WiFi is now taking advantage of the 5Ghz band to alleviate the interference and congestion many users face on the 2.4Ghz band. Microwaves, Bluetooth, Zigbee, ZWave, even your neighbor’s WiFi all operate on the 2.4Ghz frequency. That means by the time the WiFi signal reaches your wireless device, it could be fighting a lot of interference to reach it. This could cause frequent drop offs in signal, low signal and slower speeds. By enabling the 5Ghz frequency, you can let your older devices continue to operate on the 2.4Ghz frequency, but let your newer devices connect using the 5Ghz frequency. On the 5Ghz frequency they will not have to deal with the same interference as the 2.4Ghz frequency, and enjoy the benefits of faster speeds and reliability.
Choose the WiFi Channel with least Interference
There are a lot of free applications available for Smart Phones, Desktops or Tablets which allow you to do a site survey of your area. These site surveys scan the other WiFi networks in your space and allow you to determine which channel is being used the most and least for both the 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz Bands. To avoid interference, we want to set both bands to the channel with the least users, which would give us the least interference. When deciding on the right channel for your 2.4Ghz Band, it is important to note there are only 3 channels which do not overlap each other. Those are Channels 1, 6, and 11. When checking the results of your WiFi site survey, you can check and see which of these 3 bands have the least interference and set the 2.4Ghz band to the channel with the least competition in that location. The 5Ghz band does not have any channels which overlap, and you can simply choose the channel with the least competition to ensure the least interference. If possible, in your WiFi settings of your access point, also set the 2.4Ghz band to 40Mhz only and the 5Ghz Band to 80Mhz only. This setting has to do with the channel bandwidth and we want to have the largest bandwidth possible for both the 2.4Ghz band and 5Ghz band. This will allow us to have the strongest possible range without creating co-channel interference.
Set the same SSID for Multiple WiFi Acccess Points to create a single WiFi Network which can be roamed
In our experience, many users are unaware that they can set the same SSID to as many access points as they require throughout their space. This ensures you have a single WiFi name throughout the network and devices can easily switch from one access point (Roaming) to another access point seamlessly without drop offs and reconnects. If you currently have multiple routers, access points, or wireless repeaters with different SSID’s such as WiFi1, WiFi2, WiFi3 and so on, you can easily enhance this to create a single WiFi network name and let your device decide which WiFi it needs to connect to based on which WiFi device is giving it the most signal. To accomplish this, you only need to set all WiFi Access Points to the same SSID (i.e. give them all the WiFi name), and just put each device on a separate channel from the other so there is no interference. So for example, if you have three access points. The first access point can have the SSID ”MyWiFi” and set to channel 1, the second access point can have the SSID ”MyWiFi” and set to channel 6, and the third access point can have the SSID ”MyWiFi” and set to channel 11. The reason for different channels is so that one access point does not interfere with the other access points wireless signal. This applies to both the 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz bands. You can use the same SSID for both bands as well, easily letting your device choose which band is giving it the most throughput.