Aside from the limitations of Wi-Fi technology itself, walls, furniture, other electronics, and even humans can hamper internet speeds. In theory, Wi-Fi signals are capable of passing through walls and other obstacles relatively easily. However, in reality, everything blocks Wi-Fi signals a little.
Some walls are thicker or use reinforced concrete and may block some of the signals. Materials such as drywall, plywood, other kinds of wood, cinder blocks and glass, don't interfere that much and can be easily penetrated by wireless signals. Unfortunately, materials such as brick, stone, plaster, cement, metal, and double-glazed glass may cause problems. Worse still are ceramic, concrete, metal, and mirrors, which can reflect visible light and radio waves alike. Also water (think of that fish tank) can be problematic.
You will have come across this interference in everyday life. For example, when people talk in a quiet open area, you can hear their voices reasonably well. However, in a building with thick walls, listening becomes increasingly more difficult. The same is true for indoor Wi-Fi. As distance increases, the wireless signal strength decreases, and different types of walls and other obstructions will further impede the signal strength too.
So being aware that internal walls, etc., can be a problem and actually reduce Wi-Fi performance, is knowledge you can use in trying to improve your Wi-Fi signal.
When you use Wi-Fi, the data transmitted is digital, but the actual signal uses analogue radio waves. All analogue waves can be affected by interference, just like the radio in your car. You will have noticed how radio reception stops connecting properly, when you drive in a multi-storey car park, or through a tunnel. At those times, all you can hear is either white noise or the signal cuts out completely. The same happens to your Wi-Fi signal.
You can use the following guidelines to gauge how different materials in your home could be affecting the signal strength of your internal Wi-Fi. Keep in mind that a 3 dB drop is equivalent to up to a 50% reduction in power!
- Dry Wall: 3 dB
- Hollow Wood Door: 4 dB
- Brick Walls: 6 dB
- Concrete: 8 dB
- Refrigerator: 19 dB
ALSO KEEP THE FOLLOWING IN MIND:
Metal bodies absorb Wi-Fi signals.
If the walls are made of non-porous materials, then your wireless connection may have a shorter range or a slower speed.
Elevators can block Wi-Fi signals to a great extent.
Tinted glass panes carry metal constituents, so if your WiFi signal has to pass through tinted glass, you can expect a drop in signal strength.
COMPETING WIRELESS DEVICES
Sometimes you may have excellent signal strength, but little to no connectivity in some areas. These dead spots can be caused by competing wireless devices that use the same frequencies as your internal Wi-Fi, but do not cooperate with your Wi-Fi.
Here are a few common devices that might be causing dead spots in the home:
- Cordless Phones
- Baby Monitors
- Wireless Audio Systems
- Nanny Cams
- Microwave Ovens
- Wireless Security Systems
SO, WHAT DO I DO?
There are lots of different options for your in-house Wi-Fi.
Turn your router and computer or device off for a few minutes before restarting.
CHANGE THE ROUTER LOCATION?
A little strategic planning in your placement of the wireless access point will go a long way towards solving your physical interference problems and your electromagnetic interference problems.
One of the simplest changes to increase wireless network speed is to adjust the location or position of the router.
Most often, the router is situated close to where internet cables come into the home, tucked away from view. Considering most router antennas are omnidirectional (with some newer models incorporating "beamforming", concentrating wireless signals directionally toward devices), sending and receiving signals in all directions, the position of the router can make a big difference in both signal speed and strength. If you place a router that has an omnidirectional antenna against an outside wall, it will send half its wireless signal outdoors. If that is happening, you might create a dead spot on the opposite side of your home.
Simply moving the router to a better location, that radiates its signal to all the areas in the home or closer to desired spots, with a clear path from antenna to devices, can change a so-so signal to a strong one. To improve the signal strength for every room, find a central location for the wireless router with as few brick walls and metal objects (such as metal filing cabinets) in the way as possible.
If you want the best signal, you'll need the router in an open area, free of any walls and obstructions. Point the antennas vertically, and elevate the router if you can (one customer found that his attic was the perfect spot), or try the centre of your house, so you have the best coverage possible throughout your home.
A high location is usually better than a low one, especially if you have a two–storey home. If you can, put the router on a high shelf or on top of a cabinet. The floor is not a good location.
You could also try moving your router further away from interfering appliances, too. Yes, it's rare to be able to meet all of the above criteria, so you'll need to find the best compromise for your set up.
COMPETING HOUSEHOLD ELECTRONICS
Another key is to understand that any electronic device that works without wires uses radio frequencies, more than likely. If it can send something "invisibly" over the air, it's using radio waves. Your router broadcasts using high frequency (2.4 GHz) radio signals. Like all radio signals it's possible for them to pick up interference.
This interference includes cordless phones, baby monitors, remote-controlled devices (and the remotes), wireless network equipment, walkie-talkies, Bluetooth devices, and the like. If you use these wireless devices in your home, your computer might not be able to "hear" your router over the noise coming from them.
Many of these devices, like TV remotes and remote-controlled toys, operate at such a low frequency (infrared, for instance) that it's never an issue. But newer, more powerful devices can be problematic. Before buying any electronic device that transmits radio frequency data, look into its frequency range and make sure it does not conflict with your wireless network plans.
It could be that your microwave oven, cordless phone, or baby monitor is sabotaging your broadband speed. Using lots of these devices at the same time could be a cause of the problem. To check this, try testing your Wi-Fi speeds with just one device. If this improves your Wi-Fi speed, you can try reducing the number of devices in your premises that connect using Wi-Fi.
If your router, computer and gadgets were made in the last two or three years, they probably support the latest wireless-N standard. If so, make sure your router is set to N-only mode for maximum speed and range. The b/g/n setting - needed to support older devices - will be slower.
If your PC is getting on in years and stuck at wireless-G, consider upgrading to a new model or a new wireless-N card. Buy a new router if it doesn't support wireless-N. Chances are, it also doesn't support the latest security encryption.
Make sure your computer is running the latest version of its operating system and has the latest driver for your router. Visit your router manufacturer's website to see if you've missed a firmware upgrade.
If someone in your house regularly video chats, plays online games, torrents files, or uses services like Netflix, they may be hogging bandwidth and making the internet slower for everyone else.
CHANGING THE WIRELESS CHANNEL
Interference can also be caused by other wireless networks. In the UK there are 13 'channels' (with each representing a slightly different frequency) available for use. Most modern routers will automatically detect the least busy channel and use that.
If your router is broadcasting on a busy channel, then it might be worth tweaking its settings for maximum speed. Generally you'll find the best performance on channels 1, 6, and 11. It's much like tuning a radio to a different station.
IF YOU STILL HAVE SPEED ISSUES
The Wi-Fi signal within your property is not the responsibility of Zoom Internet. As an Internet Service Provider our service is delivered to your main router only. This main router is your wired connection, and Zoom Internet provides the signal speeds to this point only.
Beyond this main router, the internal Wi-Fi system is your responsibility. As a company we do not enter into the installation or setting up of internal WiFi systems. We are therefore not responsible for any speeds you receive, beyond the wired connection of your main router.
However, we are aware that most people are keen to optimize their internal Wi-Fi signal, especially when they are receiving high speeds to the main router from Zoom Internet. We also know that some people have problems achieving this satisfactorily for their internal WiFi.
If you have tried the above and still require help with more ideas, our technicians are willing to advise on some solutions that are available on the open market for helping increase the internal Wi-Fi signal. You can request an on-site survey for this purpose.