You can access the Internet anywhere in your house without unsightly wires by using a wireless router. However, getting a Wi-Fi network to perform its best is more complicated than just unpacking the equipment and plugging it in. Careful placement of your router can help, but with more and more devices competing for bandwidth there are a few other considerations that may contribute to improving signal strength and speed. Let’s explore those first.
Is it time for an update? If your modem or router hasn’t been replaced in more than five years, it’s time to upgrade. Not only has technology advanced, any electronic that is left turned on all day for years will be nearing the end of its useful life. If you’re not ready to replace your computer, you should update its network card to match the new modem and router.
Similarly, if you purchase a new computer or other Wi-Fi device, you should update your modem and router too. Otherwise, your new computer won’t operate as fast as it is capable of. Most Wi-Fi devices operate on the crowded 2.4GHz band. However, newer computers and routers are available using wireless-AC technology operating on the 5GHz band. Think of this 5GHz band like a little-used superhighway—less traffic means faster Internet speeds. Choosing a dual-band router that operates on both the 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands will cover both your new and older devices.
Location, location, location. Router placement and minimizing obstructions between the wireless router and the devices you’re trying to use will further optimize signal strength. On a sketch of your house, mark an “X” where you normally use your Wi-Fi devices at home—laptop, tablet, cell phones, wireless entertainment and gaming systems, then draw a circle that encompasses all the marks. Place your router as close to the center of the circle as practical, and on the same floor or the floor with the most use. Draw lines from your devices back to the router to see if there are obstructions. Wi-Fi signals can travel through walls, wood, plaster, glass and cinderblocks with minimal signal loss, but other materials like brick, stone, ceramics, metal ventilation shafts and water from large fish tanks will reflect signals and should be avoided. The optimum router placement is on an open shelf or desktop that is easily accessible for servicing.
Wi-Fi still sluggish? If you’ve updated your equipment and minimized blockages and are still seeing poor service, there may be some competition for your signal—including from neighbors. The easiest way to check this is to pull up a list of available wireless networks on your smart phone or laptop. The more networks you see on the list, the more traffic there is for your router to cut through. It is possible to change channels on your router to try and avoid some of this traffic. This can be done manually on most routers, or by connecting an Ethernet cable between your computer and router and changing the channel in your router’s wireless set-up.
Change Wireless Channel
1. Open a web browser (Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, etc.)
2. Enter http://192.168.1.1 or http://192.168.0.1 into your address bar
3. The gateway page may ask for a password. If it does use the following: admin/password
4. Click Wireless Setup from the menu
5. Go into the Basic Settings menu
6. In the drop down box under Channel select the desired channel (Channels 1,3,9,11)
The process is slightly different depending on the model of router you have, but it is pretty straight forward to figure out. The router gateway page is the same area you can set-up or change to a stronger password for your router, the first line of defense in keeping your information safe from hackers.
Need help upgrading? Arvig offers managed Wi-Fi products including a combined modem and router with the latest technology. The tech team can also help customers upgrade computer network cards and other related services. See the Arvig Internet Help Page. Happy surfing!