Many of us have experienced the realisation that we need to complete an important task, but cannot get a WIFI signal. It usually means we have to pack up our laptops and find somewhere different to work from before we can get started. The frustration only gets worse if you can’t get a good signal there either!
WIFI is increasingly becoming a commodity that we expect to be in place and we expect it to work without us having to adapt our behaviour to connect to a strong and reliable signal. So how do you ensure your WIFI reaches the areas of your house and/or office where you need to work from?
As tech specialists there is a tendency to jump directly to a technological solution before attempting to counter other problems like the physical obstacles to your signal. However, this may be a mistake as WIFI relies on the ability of signals to move through a physical space, so it makes sense to look at these obstacles as a first priority.
We’re going to run you through the steps you can take to extend your WIFI signal:
1) Remove the Physical Obstacles
Many people underestimate the impact that inanimate objects and walls can have on your WIFI signal. Anything that is metallic or made of large, dense materials, is a potential blocker to your signal and should be removed where possible.
Metallic objects will typically halt a signal altogether, ensuring that any user who is located behind them will not be able to access the network at all. One common obstacle that people neglect to remove is mirrors. The thin, metallic lining is purpose built for reflecting light and has a similar, but less effective impact on WIFI signal, meaning it cannot reflect your internet connection for you in the same way. The result is a partial rebound of the signal and a potentially useless connection.
We’ve produced a checklist of physical blockers that you might not have considered:
– Metallic blinds can act as a signal shield
– Large household or office appliances e.g. fridge-freezers or photocopiers
– Windows, as energy efficient windows will often contain a thin metallic layering
– Large or metallic furniture
– Ceramic tiles
– Water, especially fish tanks
2) Where to Put your Router
There are many obstacles in the home or office that can significantly reduce the effectiveness of your network, but the most common issues are walls and mirrors. Whilst many homes will have maybe a handful of mirrors and thin walls, office toilets will often contain larger mirrors and thicker walls. These aren’t items that can be easily moved and so they are effectively blocking entire portions of your building from receiving strong internet connections.
Whilst it may not make sense to remove all the mirrors from your home or office, you should consider the placement of your router and so we’ve provided a quick checklist for you:
– Consider using a ceiling-mounted router as this will provide you with more freedom to locate it in the optimal place
– Where do your users need the best signal? Many people will place the router centrally, forgetting that most of the signal is needed in a particular room or office.
– Test multiple locations to ensure you haven’t neglected an unexpected obstacle
– Always attempt to place your route away from the kitchen due to the large number of appliances
– Baby monitors and radios can also cause interference
3) Technological Solutions
There are two main ways you can use technology to increase the performance of your WIFI and these will help you to effectively extend the range of your signal as a result:
– Create a wireless bridge or use wireless access points
– Traffic limitation using firewalls
Create a Wireless Bridge
An ethernet converter or wireless bridge can be used to increase the range or direction of your WIFI network and typically uses a number of routers to deliver the desired impact. This can also be utilised as an easy-to-install method for ‘diverting’ your WIFI signal around immobile objects, like large office mirrors or metallic structures.
A similar effect can be achieved using wireless access points and ensuring you test their use around the property to maximise coverage and maintain the greatest speeds available.
Traffic Limitation using Firewalls
Communications technicians will frequently find that a client’s internet connection is performing poorly and be asked to provide a solution. The first thing they will look at is how people are using the internet and, in most cases, the poor performance will be a result of one or two users hogging the connection with bandwidth intensive activity. Modern firewalls provide you with the flexibility to restrict the usage of certain websites and/or types of content and so can improve the performance of your network.
Improving the Range of Your WIFI Signal
More often than not, the range of your router will not actually be the reason that you are experiencing difficulty with your wireless network. In most cases, a physical object, or how the internet connection is being used, will determine the performance of the network and so it’s effective range for your users.
We recommend that you take the time to carry out an analysis of your environment to identify physical obstacles, use this information to place your routers strategically and then use technology to solve the problem, if the other solutions do not provide you with the performance you wanted.