How to Improve your WiFi signal

WHY IS MY WIFI SO SLOW?

We often get asked this question. There are always a few variables based around what the issue is and how to fix it. Hopefully, this example will give you a good understanding of the common causes to help you to fix your WIFI.

We got a call from a new client who had recently upgraded their broadband. They expected a faster internet connection but the WiFi was horrendously slow. They decided enough was enough and called on professionals. We carried out our free Site Survey and it became very clear that some major issues in their network setup were causing the slow speeds.

We started by checking the existing equipment which had a mixture of Wireless Access Points (WAPs). To be exact, the models were TP-Link, LevelOne and UniFi.  There was also: wireless repeaters, devices that don’t connect directly to the network via a cable but pick up an existing wireless signal and boost it – if this wireless signal is weak, boosting is not an effective solution; and ethernet over power adapters where internet is transported to another room via mains power plugs. The majority of their equipment supported 2.4 GHz but they added the modern UniFi AP AC Lite to support their upgraded broadband.

HOW WE FIXED THE PROBLEMATIC SLOW WIFI

We decided to replace all of the old technology and deployed extra UniFi APs (to match their recently installed model) which supported both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. Because it was a large property, we strategically placed a total of 6 UniFi APs. 2.4 GHz can support speeds of up to 150 Mbps from close to medium range (approximately five metres from the WAP device) and 5GHz can provide speeds of up to 450 Mbps at close range (same room) to the WAP device.

We removed all of the old WAP devices and repeaters to eradicate legacy equipment which can cause compatibility issues between APs.

WHY NOT JUST USE 5 GHZ WIFI?

5 GHz is great for high speeds at close range. Its shortfall is that as soon as you move a few meters away, the signal strength and speed drops dramatically. When you introduce obstacles such as walls and floors, 2.4 GHz is better – although the connection speed is not as good.

5 GHz is only powerful at close range. On modern WAPs, once you leave that perimeter your device would switch to 2.4 GHz.

WHERE SHOULD I PLACE MY WAP DEVICES FOR BEST COVERAGE?

As you can see in the diagram, by strategically positioning the WAP devices, you can get the best coverage throughout an entire house or office. Ideally, you need the WAP devices to have an overlap in the signal.  The advantage of this is that as you travel through the building you will have a good hand over from one WAP device to another. This is very helpful if, for example, you are using WiFi calling because it will keep you connected and your call will not drop out.

HOW SHOULD I CONFIGURE MY WIRELESS NETWORK

There are other considerations to keep in mind; security and channel. Channel refers to the specific broadcast frequency. 2.4 GHz has a “block” of 14 channels which each has there individual frequency, for example, channel one is 2412 MHz.

You need to separate your broadcasted WiFi channels away from each other. This prevents interference which is especially important if you follow my best practice and have a good overlap for good handover. For example, the channels on 2.4 GHz range from 1 to 14. If you have three WAPs, the ideal channels are 1, 6, and 11. This separates the frequencies as much as possible within the “chunk” to help each device connected to the strongest signal and prevent signal interference.

A good practice is to make sure all of your WAP devices are configured to work together. If they are not properly configured, it will not work. The configuration in WiFi includes three main things: naming your wireless signal which is displayed when your device searches for a signal; creating a password to protect your network to prevent unauthorised connections and making sure each access point can find the router on the network.

EXAMPLE: We would set the SSID to be “Redbeard WiFi ” on all WAP devices and use the same security e.g WPA2/PSK AES with a password key “RedHa1r”.

ARE THERE MORE OPTIONS FOR WIFI TECHNOLOGY?

There is a new WiFi standard, 802.11 ac., which uses 5 GHz and provides the same signal coverage as 2.4 GHz but with a greater performance. The downside is, currently, this technology is very high in price and so is not cost effective.

Contact us today

If you are still unsure or would like to enquire about our WiFi installation service, just get in touch