Help your Wi-Fi through the COVID crisis
These are exceptional times for us all. With schools closed, employees working from home, and a world generally in lockdown, home internet connections are buckling under the strain. While broadband providers are doing what they can to maintain and improve services to homes, we can take a few steps ourselves to improve our connections inside the home.
By following the following quick fixes, you should see an immediate improvement in your in-home Wi-Fi. For those of you with a bit more know-how (or spirit of adventure), try our pro tips to get a further Wi-Fi boost.
But above all: follow your local government’s guidance on COVID-19 and stay safe.
Your friends at Nokia
Position: up and away
Quick fix. Get your router up high. That way it avoids pesky obstacles like furniture and, um, people. They all absorb Wi-Fi signals to a degree. You can’t avoid walls and ceilings, of course, but by positioning as centrally as possible in your home or the room you want to cover, you’ll get the best all-round signals. It’s a good practice to limit the number of interior walls the Wi-Fi signal must pass through to reach users to one or two. See the coverage tip to cover a larger area.
Pro tip. Many types of electrical devices create their own signals that interfere with Wi-Fi. Get your router away from items such as microwave ovens, cordless telephones, baby monitors and Bluetooth speakers. But even TV screens, dimmer switches, and halogen lights create interference as well. Move your router and primary devices away from these sources.
Coverage: corner to corner
Quick fix. For bigger homes with several rooms (and your kids spread amongst them all) you may need to extend your Wi-Fi signal. This can be done by adding additional Wi-Fi devices (called access points) that are connected to each other to cover more rooms.
Pro tip. Look for solutions that offer a true “mesh network”. This is better than simple repeaters or extenders since it creates a single Wi-Fi network (one SSID with the same logon credentials), so you can walk around the home and between access points without ever losing the connection. This is called seamless handover.
Connections: get wired
Quick fix. Your router will come with Ethernet ports. Plug your most important (and stationary) devices like your TV and desktop computer directly into the router with an Ethernet cable. That gives those devices a better connection and takes a load off your Wi-Fi.
Pro tip. If you use a mesh network in your home, see if you can run an Ethernet cable between your additional access points and the router, rather than use Wi-Fi to connect them.
Wi-Fi: divide and conquer
Quick fix. Most Wi-Fi routers today offer two frequency bands: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. Make sure you’ve got them as a single network. That way, your devices will automatically choose the best band to connect. The 5 GHz band should be used wherever possible, since that band suffers far less interference. Devices furthest from the router might use 2.4 GHz, because that frequency band travels further and through obstacles more easily.
Pro tip. Each frequency band has several channels within it. Use a tool, like inSSIDer, to see which channels are being used most. Maybe your neighbors are on the same as you, in which case you can switch for a better signal quality. Generally, use channels 1, 6 or 11 in the 2.4 GHz band to avoid interference.
Devices: switch on, switch off, switch over
Quick fix. Switch off Wi-Fi on any device that doesn’t really need it. Switch on Wi-Fi protection and choose a strong password to keep freeloaders from stealing your Wi-Fi bandwidth.
Pro tip. Bear in mind that the device with the slowest or poorest connection affects everyone else, since they take valuable airtime. Remove those devices (or users) to get a better connection for them and everyone.
Usage: download and downgrade
Quick fix. Services like Spotify and Netflix let you adjust your streaming quality; try lowering the quality to save your Wi-Fi. Alternatively, download your playlists and movies outside of peak hours rather than stream them.
Pro tip. Use www.speedtest.net or a smartphone app like Network Analyzer to find the strongest signal in each room so users know where to get the best connection. Use parental controls to block access to movie streaming sites during office hours, or schedule connectivity hours for each device.
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