4 of ways to increase your Wi-Fi coverage

4 of ways to increase your Wi-Fi coverage

Is your Wi-Fi network not reaching the places you throughout your home that you want it to? Here we look at four ways to increase the coverage area of your home wireless setup.

The last couple of years has seen unprecedented growth in broadband internet access across South Africa. Widespread fibre and LTE coverage allows almost anyone up and down the country to access to the sort of high-speed internet that could only have been dreamed about in the days of ADSL.

Greater access, however, has meant greater reliance on these services. So when your work calls keep dropping or your Netflix stream dies because of weak Wi-Fi connection in your home, frustration can quickly creep in.  

Fortunately, there are some pretty simple ways to address the issue. Wi-Fi “dead spots” are usually caused by there being too much distance between where you are trying to connect from and the router. Other issues include interference from other devices and thick brick walls – which are common in South Africa.

So let’s take a look at four of ways to deal with this issue:

  1. Reposition your router
  2. Upgrade your router
  3. Switch from 5GHz to 2.4GHz
  4. Use an extender or Mesh Wi-Fi to increase coverage

1. Reposition your router

Your first port of call should be to reposition your router. This is the easiest and most cost-effective solution. Where your router is placed will have a significant bearing on your wireless coverage. Here are some tips to consider before you decide where your router is going to live:

  • Your router should ideally be living in the middle of your house or apartment, surrounded by nothing but open air. Keep it away from walls and other obstructions. Don’t hide it away in a cabinet either as this can cause overheating which will lead to performance degradation.
  • Try to avoid having any heavy-duty appliances or electronics near your router. Things like microwaves, fridges and even baby monitors can cause interference and affect signal strength and speed.
  • Ensure that your antennae on your device are oriented vertically – standing straight up.

2. Upgrade your router

Not all routers are created equal. Hanging onto old or obsolete hardware just because it isn’t broken will negatively affect performance. An old router might still be running the outdated 802.11g specification which only offers maximum throughput of 54 Mbps while the newer (but now almost obsolete) 802.11n standard can process speeds of up to 300Mbps.

If you are looking to upgrade to a new router, look to future-proof your purchase by opting for a Wi-Fi 6 router. These can theoretically hit speeds 10Gbps and aren’t prohibitively expensive. Of course, newer hardware will also include better antennae which will help increase coverage.

One thing to keep in mind, however, is that older laptops won’t have wireless adapters that can process these speeds. An easy fix is to purchase a USB Wi-Fi adapter like the TP-Link Archer T3U Plus – an inexpensive and plug-and-play solution.

3. Switch from 5GHz to 2.4GHz

Most routers nowadays offer dual-band coverage. This means that you can connect to either the 5GHz or the 2.4GHz band. Each of these bands offers advantages and disadvantages. Fortunately, you can switch between the two pretty seamlessly across your devices. So which band is better? Well it depends on the situation. Let’s break it down.

5GHz band

The 5GHz band offers much faster speeds and encounters less interference from other wireless networks as the frequency isn’t as commonly used. The downside is this band doesn’t handle obstructions (like walls) or longer distances very well. So it won’t reach as far as your 2.4GHz signal does.

2.4GHz band

The converse is true of the 2.4GHz band. It deals more capably with longer distances and obstructions. However, it is far more likely to affected by other wireless networks as the frequency is more used more regularly. It also transmits at slower speeds than the 5GHz band. 

4. Use an extender or Mesh Wi-Fi to increase coverage

There are instances where none of the above solutions will work. If you house is too big for your router to provide sufficient stable connection, then your best bet is a Wi-Fi extender or mesh network.

Range extenders are the less expensive option. They work by receiving a signal from your router and rebroadcasting to your devices, and vice-versa. A good solution, no doubt, but nowhere near as effective as mesh Wi-Fi systems.

Rather than just repeating your router’s signal, a mesh system replaces your router altogether. It employs multiple units across your house, providing you with a wireless network that will eliminate dead zones throughout your property. It’s important to follow a few simple rules when setting up your mesh Wi-Fi network:

  1. The main tourer node that will provide connectivity to all of the satellite nodes should be installed close to your existing router using a LAN cable.
  2. Placement of the nodes depends on how good their coverage is – a good rule of thumb is to have a node every nine metres or so.
  3. Keep the nodes close to a power source and up off of the floor. The top of a TV unit or bookcase works well. Aesthetics-wise, they’re pretty inoffensive so you can even mount them to your walls.
  4. Connect things like gaming consoles or PCs directly to these nodes using LAN cables. A cabled connection is more stable and offers better speeds than a wireless one and eliminates interference from other wireless devices.

Unsure of which solution is best for you? Get in touch  with our Support Team. They’ll be able to advise you on the ideal setup for your home.