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 reliable and robust 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 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 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 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
Many obstacles in the home or office can significantly reduce the effectiveness of your network, but the most common issues are walls and mirrors. While 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.
While 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 give you 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 a large number of appliances
- Baby monitors and radios can also cause interference
3. Create A Wireless Bridge
A wireless bridge and ethernet converter can be used to increase the range or direction of your WIFI network and typically uses several routers to deliver the desired impact. This can also be utilised as an easy-to-install method for ‘diverting’ your WIFI signal around stationary objects, like large office mirrors or metallic structures.
4. Use Wireless Access Points
A wireless access point (WAP) is a piece of hardware that can help wireless devices connect to a wired network. These help boost connectivity around the area and can help connect in WiFi drop zones. You can also use wireless access points to extend the range of your WiFi, as long as you can cable them in..
5. Use a WiFi Range Extender
A WiFi range extender does precisely what it says on the tin. They use different frequencies to send and receive data which can extend your WiFi range without losing too much performance.
Improving the Range of Your WIFI Signal
More often than not, the range of your router will not 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 its effective range for your users.
Additionally, 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.
We recommend that you take the time to carry out an analysis of your environment to identify issues, 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.