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Why My Wi-Fi Sucks

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Dan has a BSc. in Engineering and is interested in Home Networking. He also installed a few stable Wi-Fi networks for family and friends.

Bad wifi is a burden a lot of people complain about. But it can be easily fixed if you are making one of the following wifi mistakes.

I hate it when my skype call freezes because of bad Wi-Fi.

I hate it when my skype call freezes because of bad Wi-Fi.

You Are Using your Provider's Router

A lot of the routers/modems installed by your internet provider have Wi-Fi build in. These routers are made to be as cheap as possible to maximize profits. You cannot blame your internet provider for wanting to make a profit, right? Furthermore your internet provider is only responsible for your internet connection until it enters your house, how it travels within your house is in theory your responsibility.

My advice is to buy a proper Wi-Fi router by a reputable brand (good brands are NETGEAR, TP-Link, ASUS, Linksys...). Make sure it is a dual-band router with Wi-Fi 5. A good budget is 50-100 dollars. Wi-Fi 6 routers are not worth it for the moment and are still very expensive.

Your router should ideally be placed in the center of your house not surrounded by anything within 1 ft.

Your Router Placement Is not Ideal

A lot of people stow their router away in some corner of their house together with the fuse box. Even worse, sometimes the router is surrounded by metal piping and wires. A lot of your Wi-Fi signal gets absorbed by all these things before it even leaves the room. Furthermore, if you have your router at on side of the house, you cannot expect the wireless signal the reach the other side of the house.

Your router should ideally be placed in the center of your house not surrounded by anything within 1 ft. If you have to, you can put your router in a closet as long as it is made of wood or plastic. By doing this, your entire house has good Wi-Fi, as long as you have a decent router of course. For example: my router is placed on top of a tall closet hidden by some wooden decorations and the wireless signal covers the whole house.

Ideally, you can connect your router with a ethernet cable.

Ideally, you can connect your router with a ethernet cable.

You Are Using a Decent Router in the Center of your House, but It Is Connected Via Powerline

Don't get my wrong, some people are perfectly happy with powerline adapters. I am not one of those people. I tried multiple brands and types of adapters and some provide me with decent download speeds, but they are in my opinion just not stable enough. It happened more than once that the powerlines lost connection for a few seconds just when I was skyping or when I was refreshing my Facebook feed. That is annoying!

With powerline adapters you are using your electricity wires as a internet cable (ethernet cable) so you don't have to use a proper ethernet cable. Let me say this: electricity cables are only good for the thing they are made for, transporting electricity. They are thin cables, they are poorly shielded... They were never meant to transfer high quality signals like the ones needed for internet.

My advice is to use a proper ethernet cable. A good alternative is using your coax cable, aka the one used for cable tv. This cable is designed to transfer high quality signals (video) for long distances and a lot of signals at the same time (how many channels has cable nowadays?). Also, you can literally kill someone with a coax cable, that is how thick it is. MOCA adapters are like powerline but for these coax cables. They use the signals that your cable provider doesn't use to provide you with an internet signal. They cost a bit more, but in my experience, they are fast, reliable and will last you far longer than normal powerlines. Try to find bonded MOCA 2.0 adapters, they offer (real life) speeds of almost 1 Gbps. I used MOCA 2.5 adapters, that are even faster, but might be overkill for most people.

Also your microwave can interfere with your Wi-Fi.

Also your microwave can interfere with your Wi-Fi.

You Are not Using 5 GHz Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi uses two types of signals to provide you with the much needed bandwidth to stream videos of cute dogs. You have Wi-Fi on the 2,4 GHz band and on the 5 GHz band. The first one is used... a lot. It is the frequency that operates your microwave, your wireless telephones, your baby monitor... Also, your neighbours use it for their own Wi-Fi. The 2,4 Ghz band actually has three sub bands that don't overlap with each other. In an ideal world neighbour 1 uses the first subband, neighbour 2 the second and neighbour 3 the third and then neighbour 4 can use the first subband again etc. You get the idea.

In the real world, these bands are all heavily used and do interfere with each other. Put this together with your baby monitor and wireless telephones that are also transmitting, and you get terrible Wi-Fi.

The solution is to use a far less crowed frequency reserved for Wi-Fi only, the 5 GHz band. As a bonus it offers far more subbands that do not overlap, so everyone in the neighbourhood can have a Wi-Fi network without disturbing the network of another. An added benefit is that 5 GHz Wi-Fi is also way faster than 2,4 Hz. The only drawback is that 5 GHz offers less range than 2,4 Ghz, but if your are using a decent router, you won't notice it that much. This is also the reason why a lot of routers are dual band (so 2,4 and 5 GHz at the same time), they offer the best of both worlds.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Dan Carbon