Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

4 tips for improving your Wi-Fi signal

Stay connected  in all ways when working from home

With Wi-Fi, the line between “want” and “need” can be fuzzy.

For some of us, it’s a source of entertainment; for others, it’s an essential connection to the world. For most, it’s both. One way or another, we’re dependent on a high-quality internet connection. According to a one survey, 75% of Americans said a week without Wi-Fi would leave them grumpier than a week without coffee.

Oh, the horror.

To help prevent breakdowns in connections and users alike, Network Engineering Technology instructor Guy Mitchell (Computer Systems Technology ’89) has four tips to help improve residential Wi-Fi networks.

1. Use the right router

new wifi router

A wireless router is the heart of a Wi-Fi network. It pumps information between devices, printers, other gadgets and the web through the modem. Some modems have routers built in, but not all. 

Not all routers are created equal. Wireless A, Wireless B and Wireless G routers are out-of-date and slow. If you’re planning an eight-hour online videogame marathon, go with Wireless N or Wireless AC, which offers the fastest speed.

2. Use the latest gadgets

new smartphones

“If you are still on the older technologies, then you are going to run into problems,” says Mitchell.

Having the latest gadgets will also improve your Wi-Fi connection and speed. Routers funnel the internet to devices through a variety of frequencies. Older gadgets – early generation iPhones, iPads, Google tablets, etc. – are capable of using only a few of those frequencies.

Having the latest gadgets will improve your Wi-Fi connection and speed.

If everyone in the house uses older devices, they’ll “saturate” those frequencies, says Mitchell, slowing the connection.

3. Eliminate “neighbour net”

password graphic

Protect your speed with a password that’s hard to hack. “It’s important to have a good password that isn’t easy to crack,” says Mitchell.

This is how you can ensure you don’t end up sharing your bandwidth. A neighbour – especially in condos (where “neighbour net” can be common) – can overload your router with downloads and Netflix marathons.

Choose a central location

router in a living room

Basements aren’t always the best place to install internet hardware, says Mitchell. Since Wi-Fi signals struggle to pass through metal, don’t put a router below furnace ducts. Other structures like walls and floors can slightly degrade signals, Mitchell adds. And never place one next to a microwave. The electromagnetic interference can wreak havoc on a Wi-Fi signal.

Never place a router next to a microwave.

Instead, try to find a central location. Sometimes a signal from the best router on the market can’t reach the odd room. A Wi-Fi range extender, repeater or booster – which sell from $15 to $300 – can help keep the outer limits of your home connected.


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