Have you noticed how much faster downloads of large files are when you use a network cable instead of a wireless connection? Today we will tell you what factors affect the connection speed, and what needs to be done to achieve a high-quality Wi-Fi signal.
Why is it important
When pages on the Internet don't load fast enough, the ISP is often blamed, backing up their dissatisfaction with speed scores from services like the Speed test. Indeed, the actual figures may differ significantly from those declared in the tariff, but only if a wireless connection was used during the check.
And the router and its owner are to blame for this, rather. Don't believe it? Plug the network cable into the laptop and check the speed again.
What affects signal quality
For reference. The words «router» and «retranslator» are used to refer to the same device.
To a greater extent, the network operation depends on the retranslator: its model, number and power of antennas. The firmware and settings of the router are also important.
The second significant factor that can affect a Wi-Fi connection is the router’s location, its proximity to reflective and absorbing surfaces. Microwave ovens and Bluetooth devices operate on the 2.4 GHz frequency (e.g. wireless headphones, mice), which may affect the quality of the Wi-Fi signal.
On the other hand, the settings of the receiving device can «slow down» the download.
If you want to improve the connection quality and are not ready for the serious financial costs that imply the purchase of a new router, our tips will come in handy.
Steps to a consistently good connection
Correct location. Choose a point for the router that is equidistant from the workplaces in the house. Do not place the device on a load-bearing wall, concrete has a high absorption coefficient, so the signal behind the wall will be strongly attenuated.
Removing obstacles in the signal path. It is important to know what the partitions between the rooms are made of. Additional upholstery with drywall worsens the signal, and reinforcement in concrete walls almost completely suppresses it. That is why it is better that there are no walls between the router and the main workplace. It is also not recommended to install the router near a mirror and metal surfaces. The reflection effect causes the signal to multipath, which distorts the radiation pattern of the antenna and causes interference to the receiver.
Signal repeater. Many routers can operate in signal repeater mode. If there are many rooms in the house and a uniform signal cannot be created due to the architectural features of the room, use a repeater. This is an easy-to-configure compact device that operates on 220 V. The repeater receives and reproduces the received signal in its original form. To connect to the network, you only need to enter the Wi-Fi name and password.
Changing the router’s channel. This option is suitable for residents of apartment buildings, where 10-20 networks are simultaneously in the reception area. They all broadcast at close frequencies, so they «interrupt» each other. To change the frequency, you need to change the channel.
Here you will need a special Free Wi-Fi Scanner program (or similar) to check channel congestion by scanning nearby networks. After opening the program, a list of networks and channel numbers on which they broadcast are displayed on the screen.
Find the least loaded and specify it in the wireless network settings of your router.
To do this, go to the router settings, select the «Wireless Settings» (1) section. Find the item «Channel» (2) and set the value obtained as a result of the analysis of the scanner data.
Transition to a new standard. Modern network devices support the 802.11 group of standards (the most common are a/b/g/n). If devices that only support legacy standards are not connected to the router, it is recommended to switch the network to 802.11n high-speed operation. This is done in the same settings tab of the router where the channel changes. In the «Mode» (3) item, set the value to «11n only».
Checking the number of network connections. The connection speed is noticeably reduced if many devices are connected to the router at the same time, especially if files are being downloaded. You can also view the number of connections in the wireless network settings, in the «Statistics» (or «Active session») tab. A list of MAC addresses of active connections will appear here. You need to compare the number of devices in this list with the number of your devices, if it does not match, you should change the password, or restrict access to a specific address of an impudent neighbor. To find out your MAC address so you don't accidentally block your own device, read here.
Updating the firmware of an old / buying a new router. If the described actions do not help, it is possible that your router simply does not cope with the functions assigned to it. Try to search the Internet for the firmware for your model and install it according to the instructions. Buy a new router only if you are sure that it is not possible to improve the signal quality of the current device.
In trying to improve the transfer speed, people make the same mistakes. Why is the set of errors standard? Elementary! It is these actions to improve the Wi-Fi signal that are written on sites from the top of search engine results. We advise you to check the recommendations before implementing them and not to trust any information. So, never do the following:
- do not try to change the antenna pattern with foil, cans and other homemade screens, as you will only get a harmful reflection effect;
- do not set the antenna power to the maximum in the router settings. To increase the coverage area, a high gain is important, and the power of the antenna itself should not be higher than the level of the weakest user device;
- if the router is dual-band, do not turn off the broadcast of the 2.4 GHz network without making sure that all your Wi-Fi devices support the 5 GHz standard, and vice versa.
Even a hopeless router can be made to deliver a high-quality signal. By following our simple instructions, you can increase the performance of your device and achieve an increase in speed. If after following the recommendations you don’t notice a noticeable difference, your router is probably outdated and it’s time to pick up a new one.