Improving Your Wireless Network


By Hannah Wakeman

General
12 July 2013

By Bryan Parsons (SpiderGroup Operations Manager)

A study by Strategy Analytics revealed that 73.3% of UK homes now use a wireless internet connection. And it’s easy to see why: a wireless network can give you incredible flexibility and convenience in your home or work place; allowing you to work from your garden, your bedroom, the canteen or just about anywhere else.

Amazing! But what happens when you find that your signal doesn’t quite reach where you need it to, or the speed is not quite what you expected?

Location, location, location…

Our top piece of advice is that location is key. Whatever device you have blasting out wifi signal it needs to be central to all of the areas in your building where you’re likely to want to connect.  This way it’s providing coverage in all directions.

If possible move your wireless access point so it’s in a central location, and not tucked into a corner with walls on two sides. While you’re at it move the router off the floor, higher is better.

Lastly, avoid placing it near metal, such as filing cabinets, as these will block a lot of the signal.

Interference

Things like Microwaves, cordless phones and baby monitors can also broadcast on the same frequency as your wifi network, avoid placing these next to your wifi router or even better try to buy ones which don’t work on the same frequency as wifi (2.4 gigahertz).

It’s crowded out there, with loads of wireless networks overlapping and competing. Most wireless access points allow you to change the channel of your wireless network. This can improve things if you pick a channel as far away from your neighbours as possible. Beyond speaking to your neighbours who may not know what channel their network is on anyway let alone how to change it; you can get apps on your smart phone which will scan the area for other wireless networks and what channel they are on.

Upgrading

Doing the above may increase your range and speed a little but they are never going to make your network reach beyond it’s maximum range or make it blast through that 3 foot stone wall! All is not lost…

There are really three options here, depending on your budget and needs…

1)     You could replace your existing wireless access point (that may be a few years old) which would have been free from your broadband provider with something that has a bit more umph! Take a look at some reviews to see which devices work best and fit your budget.

2)     Add a wireless repeater, these just need power, no network cabling required. You can place it towards the edge of your existing network’s range, it will pick up your existing wireless signal and re-broadcast it, extending the range. The downside of these is the speed loss, every time you re-broadcast your wifi network you generally cut the speed in half.

3)     Splash out on a meshed wireless network. This is a bit more expensive but is ideal if you have a large area to cover. You can place devices all around the building, some cabled in, some not. They allow you to roam around the entire building on what appears to be one seamless wireless network. You can even get devices designed to go outdoors so you really can work from anywhere!

Security

Never turn off the security on your network, rather than speeding things up it’s more likely to make things worse as you could end up with lots of strangers taking advantage of the unsecured network you’ve provided!

If you don’t have a secure network, make it secure, now! You’re letting anyone loose on your network, who knows what they’ll get up to or what they’ll be downloading on your broadband connection!

All of the above sounds good but how do you actually go about making it happen?

It’s not always easy to log onto your wireless access point and when was the last time you saw you the instructions?

Your best bet is to ask your ‘techy friend’, maybe bribe them with a bottle of wine or a pack of Percy Pigs (always works on me!). Or if you’re a business, give your IT support team a poke and see what they can sort out for you.

Happy connecting! Let us know how you get on 🙂

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

For more information, call us on 0117 933 0570 or fill in our contact form and we’ll get back to you.

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