Wednesday, September 18th, 2019 by Gina Thompson
Do your devices struggle to get the job done when they’re connected to your home WiFi? Does the WiFi work better in some rooms compared to others? If you notice the WiFi signal bar on your smartphone, tablet or computer seems to be pretty low, your devices or home layout may be interfering with the WiFi signal coming from your router.
Don’t stress – there are some simple changes you can make to get your home WiFi signal in ship-shape. If you’re suffering from a weak WiFi signal, have a read of this handy guide we’ve put together to find out what to do to improve your WiFi signal around your home.
Not all WiFi is created equal
These days, most routers and WiFi devices feature 5GHz AC WiFi, a newer technology that offers faster performance than its predecessors. However, routers and WiFi devices typically also offer backwards compatibility with the older 2.4GHz N WiFi, which doesn’t perform as well and is prone to more interference. Many people use the weaker 2.4GHz by default or simply out of habit. The problem is that so many devices today are using bandwidth on the older 2.4GHz N WiFi network, from phones and computers to WiFi or Bluetooth-enabled household appliances, that it can cause major local congestion.
The newer 5GHz AC WiFi is less congested simply because it has much more bandwidth available to be shared between multiple devices. Not to mention that it’s not fighting with all your other wireless devices to use the same old 2.4GHz radio frequencies.
When it comes to devices that you use for applications such as streaming video, downloads and social media, it’s strongly recommended to use 5GHz AC WiFi wherever possible for a faster, more reliable connection. Switch over your devices today and see the change for yourself!
How to get on 5GHz AC WiFi
The first thing to do is check that your router has 5GHz AC WiFi:
Next, make sure that your devices can connect to 5GHz WiFi. If your device was manufactured after 2014, chances are that it’s compatible. If you have an older laptop or desktop computer, you can purchase a USB plug-in AC WiFi adapter from your local computer shop or office supply store to allow you to connect to this channel.
Still not sure if your device can use 5GHz AC WiFi? Just have a go at connecting – there’s no harm done if it doesn’t work. Once you’ve got all your devices connected, you may notice an immediate improvement in WiFi performance, but there’s still some other things you can check to get the best experience possible.
Location, location, location!
While 5GHz AC WiFi does offer better performance compared to older 2.4GHz WiFi networks, it does have a shorter range and lower “signal penetration” (that’s tech-talk for it doesn’t travel through objects as well). This range should be big enough to cover the average apartment or house, but if you live in a larger house or have thick walls, the solution may be as simple as relocating your router.
When choosing a location for your WiFi router, aim for the following:
WiFi channels aren’t so much of a concern on 5GHz AC WiFi
Much a like a radio, WiFi has different channels to choose from and if too many WiFi networks are operating over the same channel, it can cause performance issues. This is most common in high-density living areas like apartment buildings, where there are more WiFi networks closer together.
The good news is that 5GHz routers support 23 non-overlapping channels (a vast improvement on the 3 offered by 2.4GHz!) and typically scan for the best available channel when they boot up, so in the unlikely situation you do end up on the same channel as your neighbor, getting on the best WiFi channel is only a reboot away!
Sudden WiFi issues could be a result of background activity
When you’re already confident in your WiFi setup, it can be frustrating when the signal drops out of the blue. With the sheer number of wireless devices in the typical modern home, a common culprit for unexpected signal drops can simply be increased background activity. At any moment, our phones, laptops, gaming systems or any number of other devices may suddenly decide to do a system update, or back-up our files to the cloud, causing slower performance across the whole household. What may look like a WiFi drop may actually be your internet connection running out of bandwidth for all your connected devices.
If you are experiencing intermittent speed issues or buffering when streaming videos, you may need to consider:
Further options if you’re still having trouble on the WiFi
Sometimes the size or construction of your home just isn’t optimised for a WiFi signal, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have options!
If you would like more info on optimising your Wi-Fi please check out this handy tool our friends at NBN Co. have created to help improve your home network.