Many people complain about poor WiFi coverage – a fairly common and frequent problem. Fortunately, it is possible to increase the range of the home network by various means. Importantly, they are not expensive at all.
Building and configuring a basic WiFi network is not as simple as connecting devices to the Internet with an appropriate cable. To make matters worse, there are also quite a few factors that can interfere with efficient wireless communication.
Why do I have poor WiFi coverage?
The poorer quality of the wireless connection may be due primarily to the place where we put the router. In many cases, we hide the device somewhere in the farthest corner of the house or apartment. This is a bad idea. The router should be placed in a central location since most devices have omnidirectional antennas (the signal propagates with equal intensity in every direction). Therefore, it is easy to deduce that many of us are sending the signal somewhere outside the apartment.
The other thing is, of course, walls and ceilings – the strength of the WiFi signal is affected by both the number of walls and the material these elements are made of. The more walls the signal has to overcome, the worse it gets. Unfortunately, blocks of flats built of reinforced concrete do not help in getting good home network coverage…
Interference can also cause other WiFi networks. Virtually every household today has a router (sometimes more than one) to which several devices are connected. Just check how many networks you have available nearby.
The last factor that can cause WiFi coverage to be insufficient for us is, of course, a poor-quality router or network card.
How to deal with these problems? At-home ways to improve WiFi coverage
First of all, you should change the location of the router if, as I mentioned earlier, it is set in some corner of our house. To make matters worse, some people hide their routers in a closet so as not to spoil the appearance of a particular room. This is another mistake that makes us weaken the quality of the connection.
The antennas in most router models are designed to send a signal in every direction. Some of them have Beamforming technology, which ensures that the signal beam is directed straight to the device, such as our laptop or smartphone. But what if the router does not have it? If we want to skip one of the directions, such as the wall we share with our neighbor, we can use a simple homemade patent. Just place an aluminum barrier behind the antenna, such as one formed from a can, so that the signal will bounce back and thus skip the neighbor’s apartment.
WiFi signal booster
If a home solution doesn’t help, and we still struggle with a weak WiFi network connection, we can buy a practical device like a repeater. A WiFi signal booster works in a simple way. It receives the signal from the router and then “passes” it on.
Interestingly, the configuration of most models is trivial, and even a layman can cope with it. At worst, we need to select the appropriate WiFi network for amplification in the configuration panel. However, some models are equipped with a button with which we connect the repeater to the router. So basically, no configuration is required of us. Therefore, from now on (usually), we can enjoy a very good signal.
How much does it cost? It depends on the manufacturer. For example, the Tenda PH5 model with two antennas, theoretically further enhancing the quality of the connection, is priced at about 60$. At the same time, the equally decent TP-Link RE200 repeater costs about 30 bucks. On the other hand, if you want to buy a model that will be really cheap, you may be interested in the Tenda A9. You can buy this signal repeater for about 12$ on any auction site.
What are the differences between the various models of repeaters, and where do the sometimes very large differences in their prices come from? As in the case of routers – everything breaks down not only in terms of performance, that is, the offered signal strength, but also other capabilities, such as working with a 5 GHz network. The network operating at 2.4 GHz is much more crowded (due to its popularity). Therefore, if you live in a block of flats that is even “swarming” with routers, it is worth using equipment that offers 5 GHz frequency. Then, in practice, we will be able to enjoy a more stable connection.
A slightly more expensive but also more effective solution to WiFi coverage problems is to use a Mesh system. How does it work? Most often, two or three devices are used to build such a network. These are routers that simultaneously act as repeaters. We set them up in different corners of our home (or office) and then connect them to a network. It may sound complicated, but in practice, it boils down to downloading an app to our smartphone and then going through the steps of configuration, which takes a few moments.
When you buy a ready-made kit for creating a Mesh network, you get devices that connect to each other practically automatically, so a less advanced user doesn’t really need to care how it works. The manufacturer has prepared a kit that is supposed to work, and that’s it. So it’s nothing difficult, and thanks to it, we gain a perfect signal even in places where WiFi was previously not available at all.
Is it worth it?
Opinions are mixed about reapers or kits for creating Mesh networks. In theory, they have a lot of advantages: moving between rooms, we do not lose signal strength or connection at all. However, many users encounter problems – some devices do not work very well with all models of routers. Therefore, when deciding to buy, check the terms of return and the possibility of returning the equipment when it does not meet our expectations.
If we are not fans of “clutter” and equipment banging around the house, manufacturers of reapers and Mesh systems often pay strong attention to the design of their devices. For example, Deco M5, a product of TP-Link, is not only able to cover a house of up to 500 square meters with a network but also… it just looks good. In addition, with it, we can connect up to 100 devices using a wireless WiFi network.
The WiFi signal is correct, but the Internet still works poorly
If you have dealt with a weak WiFi signal, and transfers are still much slower than your contract with your ISP, this could indicate problems with your router. You may simply have an old model that limits the network bandwidth. Someone may ask: “why is an older one immediately worse?”. It’s all about outdated standards; theoretically, the newer it is, the higher bandwidth we gain. In case of problems, it is essential to check the standard in which our router operates.
- 802.11a – up to 54 Mbps throughput, 5 GHz
- 802.11b – up to 11 Mbps throughput, 2.4 GHz
- 802.11g – up to 54 Mbps throughput, 2.4 GHz
- 802.11n – up to 600 Mbps throughput, 2.4/5 GHz
- 802.11ac – up to 1.3 Gbps throughput, 5 GHz
- 802.11ad – up to 7 Gbps throughput, 60 GHz
- 802.11ax – up to 11 Gbps throughput.
In case everything is fine with the device, you should bring the problem to the attention of your Internet provider. At this stage, we can expect a lot of interesting adventures (as is usually the case with technical support). Still, theoretically, the technician should check what is the cause of the trouble with network operation and suggest a solution.
However, if you are using a mobile GSM modem, for example, and the signal reaching you is weak, it is worth choosing a GSM signal range booster. Depending on the power offered, this type of device can cost 35 to 135 dollars. One of the more popular providers of such solutions is SignaFlex.
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