NewSprout Support Articles

Why is my Wi-Fi so weak?

in Broadband

 

If you have landed on this page, you have looked to the skies and asked at least once, “How can I make my Wi-Fi work better?”

There is no magic solution for this, ultimately it can come down to a handful of things.
Placement of your router in your house, other nearby electrical appliances and the age of the router itself.

Traditionally Wi-Fi modems and routers operate only on a single frequency – 2.4Ghz.
This band range has been around for quite some time, and has quite a few similarities with other house hold appliances. Your cordless phone, baby monitors even your microwave and refrigerator can interfere or overlap with this frequency.

So step one is to place your router as far from any of these appliances as possible. But still try to keep it central to the area of the house or office that you need to cover. And keep it reasonably high. The signal has an easier time of travelling downwards, on the floor next to the TV or behind it is not the best place in the house… ;)
The above will help, but it is no silver bullet. Each appliance still needs to operate, you are just giving your router a better chance for getting its signal out there.

“Have you tried turning it off and on again?”

As funny (or frustrating) as this sounds, a good old reboot can help.
If your Wi-Fi has become so slow or completely unresponsive this can definitely help.
All you need to do is turn off the power for 15 to 20 seconds.
Note: Do not press any button that says “RESET”! This will return your router to its factory settings and you will be needing to find your login details we sent to you when you first signed up and configure your router from scratch…

If you find yourself having to reboot more than once every day or two, and your router is 3 or 4 years old, you are probably best to go out and buy a new unit.
Many new routers are now dual band and have an added 5 GHz Wi-Fi range.
This is a much quicker network compared to the 2.4GHz, so it would be better for streaming your favourite shows, if your devices are capable, but it does have a shorter ‘reach’ than 2.4 GHz signal.
Being a higher frequency it does not pass through walls as well as its counter part, but it does have a greater number of channels, so will likely be less ‘congested’.

Of course we can provide a new router, just let us know!

Give your network a boost..

Another thing to try are extenders.
There are two types of extenders available. Powerline and Wireless range extenders.

Powerline Extenders are generally the easiest to setup and most effective. They use the existing copper powerline circuit in your home/office to transmit the signal. They come with two units and there are two options for the ‘extended’ end.
The main type of extender kit just uses a network cable from the second unit to your computer, the second type of extender creates another Wi-Fi access point from the second unit.
All you need to do is plug the main unit into a power point near your router in one part of the house using a network cable from the router to the extender, and this will pass the network signal through the powerlines to the second unit in another part of your house. It is best to keep these on the same power circuit as the signal can degrade or worse, not pass through at all, if going from one house circuit to the other.
Also, if you have a granny flat or separate cottage to your main house, this type of extender will likely not work at all as these are usually on their own power circuit. A Wi-Fi Extender / Repeater might be your only option here.

Wireless extenders or repeaters ‘pass on’ the existing Wi-Fi signal, so it is important to get the placement correct. They are not as effective as Powerline Extenders, if you put the repeater unit too far from the original router, or the original signal is degraded in any way, you will only get that ‘low’ quality signal passed on.

We often receive calls from clients with large homes and/or heavily constructed with concrete walls, which of course contain heavy reinforcing or steel reo. Wi-Fi travelling through solid walls at oblique angles degrades the signal rapidly.
This is perfect example of where a Powerline Extender could help if positioned optimally on the same power circuit.

  • Powerline Extender Pros:
    – Full speed passed through to extender
    – Easy to setup, and secure
    – Cheaper than a second internet connection
  • Powerline Extender Cons:
    – May need a second router/network hub, depending on your needs
    – May not work across seperate power circuits
  • Wireless Repeater / Extender Pros:
    – No need for a physical connection
    – Cheaper than a second internet connection
  • Wireless Repeater / Extender Cons:
    – Best placed close to original router
    – Will only pass on the strength of the signal it receives
    – Can still get interference from external sources.

 

Power Saving?

Feeling game? Jump into the settings of your router and have a look for any mention of Transmission Power, Power Saving or Eco Mode.
Whilst having these options active may save a little power in the long run, they could be holding your Wi-Fi transmission back.
If you think your Wi-Fi is not reaching as far as it could, set any transmission power to 100% and disable any Power Saving modes.
Or if your router is capable of scheduling power saving, set it to low power modes when you will least likely be using the Wi-Fi, overnight or when you’re at work for example.

Channel Check

Another thing to check is the channel that your router operates on. This is becoming less of a worry with the above mentioned dual band routers becoming more common, but this may help out if you don’t feel the need to upgrade just yet.
There are 11 channels available to the 2.4Ghz network.
For most routers, each time you turn on or reboot it, it will try to choose the least crowded channel.
There are plenty of programs that can analyse nearby Wi-Fi signals and what channel they are on. A quick internet search will find several tools to choose from.
Once you have checked what nearby Wi-Fi channels are being used, you can set the channel manually in the routers’ settings.
Most opinions point to using any one of the two channels at either end of the spectrum, 1 or 11, and the middle one, 6. These three channels don’t overlap each other and therefore don’t interfere with each other.
However, use whichever channel has the least amount of other active networks on it, if there are that many around you.

 

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