How to boost your WiFi signal

Getting online and staying there is vital for a modern, connected household, so when your WiFi signal is weak, it’s equally vital to know how to boost it. Here’s some tips to get you up to speed…

Run a speed test

Before we go any further, let’s establish exactly what type of speed you are getting. Just use our one-click, ultra-reliable broadband speed test. It can help you make practical decisions when it comes to boosting your WiFi signal, whether that be via your devices, your router or your provider.

Move your router

A good way to improve your WiFi signal is to give your router the pride of place it deserves in your home. Position it as prominently and centrally as you can. Try and make it equal distances from all the devices that want to connect in your home: the laptop from the upstairs office, the TV in the lounge, the iPad in the playroom, the smart speaker in the kitchen. If you can find a place where the router’s signal can reach all these places with ease, then you’ve discovered the WiFi signal holy grail.

Remove interference

It’s no good having your router in prime position in your home if it encounters too many obstacles before it reaches your devices. Don’t have it behind sofas. Don’t place it inside a cabinet. Don’t place any ornaments or objects beside or on top of your router. All of these things will interfere with the strength of the WiFi signal that your router provides.

Establish your frequency

An obvious question to consider when thinking about the strength of WiFi signals is “Exactly how far can WiFi signals travel anyway?” The answer is simple: Indoors, the 2.4GHz band range is about 150 feet. Outdoors is about double that. The range of the 5GHz band is approximately one-third of these distances, but it does carry data faster.

The 2.4GHz frequency has 11 channels and is the most common as it handles obstacles and distances well. However, the 5GHz band usually has less overcrowding than the 2.4GHz band as fewer devices use it and because it has 23 channels for devices to use.

So, if you live in a multiple occupancy house and are experiencing a lot of interference from other devices, you should consider switching to the less popular 5 GHz band.

You’ll need to open your network’s administrator interface to configure this.

Change your channel

Every WiFi router has different channels that it uses to broadcast its signal. Think of them like lanes on a motorway, some can be more congested than others and some faster than others.

The ‘automatic’ function on your router should select the best channel with the least congestion giving you better speeds. However, this isn’t always the case, so you might want to check the set-up for yourself and make the necessary adjustments. Once you have selected a channel, you’ll need to instruct your WiFi router to use it:

  1. Log into your router as admin.
  2. Go to Settings and find Wireless Settings.
  3. Find the Channel option, it will usually be set to Auto.
  4. Change it to your desired channel.
  5. Save your new channel settings and wait for your router to restart.

Kick out WiFi intruders

Security can be an issue with WiFi, especially when we only had WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) passwords, which were notoriously easy to break. Now we have WPA2 (WiFi Protected Access II) passwords, which are much more robust, but it might be worth checking there are no unwanted WiFi piggybackers clogging up your signal. If your neighbour is using your signal to download 4K videogames then your lazy-evening stream of Netflix is going to suffer.

Replace your antenna

Replacing an old antenna or mounting another external antenna can help boost and extend our WiFi signals. If you have a weak spot or dead zone in your home, point your external antenna towards that spot and it will usually help to improve the WiFi signal in that area.

Set up Quality of Service

Up-to-date routers usually come with a Quality of Service (QoS) tool that allows you to attribute a certain amount of bandwidth to certain apps that are used within the household. Altering your bandwidth for each app at different times of the day is an ultra-smart way to boost your wireless signal.

Upgrade your WiFi router’s firmware

Firmware is software that makes your devices work the way the manufacturer intended them to. Some devices, such as routers, need to have their firmware upgraded periodically to make sure they are functioning to the best of their ability.

To make sure your router has the most up-to-date firmware installed, you should consult your user documentation, the router manufacturer or your internet provider. You might need to download a firmware file from your router’s support page or push a firmware upgrade button on your router.

Upgrading router firmware should be done fairly regularly to improve your WiFi signal whether you are having problems or not.

Upgrade your hardware

Stuff, no matter how modern or sparkly, only lasts so long. And in the tech industry, things can become outmoded rather quicker than, say, the car industry. So, if your router is old and obsolete, change it.

Out-dated hardware will drag your whole system down. Newer devices will have better wireless standards and newer routers will support those better standards. Replacing old routers really will make a huge difference to the performance of your network and improve your WiFi signal.

Change your provider

If you're still experiencing problems with the strength of your WiFi signal after addressing all of the above, it might be time to get to the core of the problem: perhaps your provider is not pumping in the right broadband for you!

At Virgin Media we deliver speeds up to 7x faster than BT and Sky thanks to our Virgin Media-owned fibre optic cabling and our in-house Hub wireless router that helps deliver the kind of steady WiFi signal that should keep everyone in your home happy.

If your house isn’t getting the speed coverage that works for you, it could be time to give us a call.

The fastest widely available broadband – Having faster broadband doesn’t just mean you can do more online, it means you can connect more devices and keep them up to speed. We have some of the fastest widely available broadband in the UK, so check your postcode to see what’s available where you live.

Keeping loved ones secure – We’re not only fast, we’re safety conscious, too. Our free Web Safe tools allow you to create a secure online environment for all your devices and hide those dark corners of the internet from members of your household that shouldn’t be seeing them. It’s all part of the service.

Get a WiFi range extender or a repeater

One way of improving the WiFi signal around your home is to use a wireless extender or a repeater. Extenders and repeaters look like routers, but act a bit differently: they pick up the WiFi signal from your router, amplify it and re-broadcast it from a different position in your home.

What’s the difference between WiFi extenders and repeaters?

Nothing. They do the same thing. They come in boxes that contain two routers, similar to the main router in your home: one connects to the main router and transmits its signal to the second unit through new antennae to the second unit in a different position in your home where you require a better signal.

What’s a WiFi booster?

As the name suggests, WiFi boosters tend to do more than just re-broadcast the same WiFi signal, they amplify it. If your signal’s a bit weak to start with, then a booster might do a better job than an extender or repeater.

What sort of problems can WiFi extenders and boosters solve?

The following can all cause problems with WiFi signal strength

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