Guilty of cursing your internet service provider (ISP) every-time your stream stops or game starts lagging? Well… sorry to break the news, but it’s unlikely your ISP is the reason you’re pulling your hair out every time this happens. If it’s not a limited bandwidth package you’ve gone with, then it’s likely your wireless setup is simply not cutting it. But don’t worry, as you can easily improve the speed and strength of your wireless signal with these 5 simple steps.
- Find out what speed you can get and if you’re getting it
- Utilise the latest wireless technology available
- Positioning your router for optimal signal coverage
- Make use of powerline adapters and wireless extenders
- Advanced router setting
When trying to improve your home’s internet speeds, you first need to find out what speeds you can get delivered to your home and whether you’re actually getting the quoted speed form your ISP. Internet speed (bandwidth) will be limited by the type of phone line or cable routed to your home from your local exchange.
Fact: Average UK download speed = 36.3Mbps (April 2017) source: Ofcom
Most homes in the UK (92%) have lines enabling “superfast broadband” speeds of 24Mbps or faster, however reports show that more than half of the country is still on a package using the dated and less reliable copper line service limited to 8-20Mbps.
Find out what internet speeds are available in your area by checking on BT’s internet speed availability checker. Once you know what you’re able to get, check with your current ISP to find out what you’re bandwidth cap is set to to make sure you’re getting the best that’s available in your area. Finally, check that your router receives the quoted speed by using a free speed checker. Make sure to use a cable “ethernet” connection from your router to your laptop or PC to get an accurate reading.
Netflix specifies that to enjoy their highest quality 4K, HDR enabled content, you will need a steady 25Mbit connection.
Find out more information about your local exchange and it’s services at SamKnows.
Tip: If you’re on the hunt for a new ISP or broadband package, we suggest checking uSwitch for a comparison of the best broadband deals available in your area.
Still using an a/b/g/n protocol wireless router? If so, you’re likely preventing your newer devices including your phone, games console and TV from making the best connection that they’re able to make.
Since 2014, most new devices with wireless connectivity use wireless ac technology. All this means is that it allows your router and device to communicate using the newest wireless protocol technology which delivers a faster, more stable connection and often with a bigger coverage area. But for the technology to work, both your router and device need to support it. Hence it’s always best to have your router upgraded to the latest technology to to not prevent your device from utilising it.
To find out what wireless protocol your router uses, you can usually find a sticker on the back of the device with the information. Alternatively you can call your ISP which provided the router and ask them.
Tip: If you’ve been with your ISP for over a year, don’t be afraid to give them a call and ask for a free router upgrade. Let them know that you’ve introduced more wireless devices to the household and that you don’t get a stable connection in your garden. Usually that’s enough to justify a free upgrade as a loyal customer and if not for free, then you should at least receive a good price for a worth while upgrade.
One of the most common reasons why you may experience poor wireless speeds and signals is due to the positioning of your router.
People have carried over a bad habit from the miserable days of dial-up modems by hiding their router in a dark corner of the house where it cannot be seen heard or heard of. This was fine when modem routers made strange noises, looked unappealing and only provided wired connections, but this is the complete opposite with modern wireless routers.
Ideally, you want to position your router at the centre of your home, in an open area so the wireless signal may reach all ends of the house with as little signal obstruction as possible. Avoid placing your router under stairs, inside a cupboard or within a clutter of other electrical devices which may interfere with the signal.
Wireless ac routers utilise two signal frequencies (dual band) – 2.4 Ghz and 5Ghz. This effectively creates a more stable connection for when one of the frequencies is being interfered with so the other may make up for the loss. However, radio signals such as those created by microwaves and baby monitors can heavily interfere with your router’s signal so it’s important to keep distanced from each other.
If you live in a bigger house, perhaps with a garden, several floors, or a room layout with many walls between you and the router, then you may still experience signal and speed dropouts despite having a pretty powerful wireless router. Luckily, there are adapters on the market that help solve this problem.
Powerline adapters allows your internet signal to be transmitted from your router, through your home’s electrical wiring, and out to any electrical socket, providing a near lossless internet connection anywhere within your home where there’s a power outlet. The technology works like magic, by creating a wired like connection to places where your wireless router’s signal cannot reach.
The best part is that these adapters can come with both an ethernet output and a repeated wireless signal on the receiving end of the chain, doubling up as a second access point, just like having a second router.
Tip: If you find yourself playing games that require low latency, powerline adapters work great by eliminating the latency created by long range wireless signals.
You’ve taken care of the most common problems that most people have with their wireless connection. But if you’ve got a bit more time and technical know-how, you can tinker with your router’s advanced settings to fine-tune your wireless signal for even better performance.
Select a less congested channel frequency
We discussed earlier that a dual band wireless router will work on the 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz frequency. If you dig deeper, you’ll find that within the 2,400Mhz-2,500Mhz range that the 2.4Ghz band operates, you have smaller 20Mhz “channels”. By default your router will select one of these channels, and in an ideal world, all your neighbours will all use a different channel within the 2.4Ghz frequency range that does not overlap preventing additional interference.
You can use a tool such as Acrylic WiFi to determine the least congested channel in your wireless area to achieve the least interference from other 2.4Ghz signals. You can find channel settings within your router’s advanced settings and set a less congested channel for a better connection.
Set up quality-of-service (QoS)
QoS allows you to limit bandwidth for fixed IP addresses (devices) by allocating a maximum upload and download speed through your router’s advanced settings. This can be particularly useful if you have someone in the house hogging bandwidth, perhaps a person is downloading music or movies all the time which may prevent smooth video streaming for someone else in the house. To enable this feature, check your routers user guide for QoS setup.
A domain name systems (DNS) is like an address book for websites. When you type a domain name like Flubit.com, your computer sends a query to your designated DNS server to find the I.P address for Flubit.com in order to match your browser to the website. In most cases, the router provided by your ISP will have a DNS pre-selected.
What you can do is use a tool like namebench to check which DNS server responds to your search queries the fastest and change your router’s DNS server for a slightly more responsive browsing experience. Most techies will swear by Google’s public DNS server’s as they are always a step ahead in the industry, providing the most reliable (less downtime) and responsive results. You can update DNS settings within your PC’s network settings. For instructions on where to find these settings check Google’s get started guide.