By conducting a broadband speed test in different rooms in your home, you can establish the strength of your WiFi signal across your home and answer the following questions…
- Does my WiFi signal travel well to the back room/upstairs/office/garden?
- Do you think a WiFi range extender might help?
- Should I place my router in a more central position in your household and higher up?
Sometimes the age of your device – or the software on your device – can have an adverse effect on your WiFi connection speed. Conduct the broadband speed test on different devices and ask yourself the following...
- Is this device ready to connect to the right WiFi on startup?
- Is the software or firmware fully up-to-date on this device?
- Is this device modern enough to handle a good broadband speed and, if not, do I need to modernise my equipment?
- Could I perhaps move my device to a better location in my home in order to get a better internet connection?
If the speed you’re getting is much slower than the speed your broadband provider quoted, you might want to ask it why!
At Virgin Media, our fastest widely available average broadband speeds are 9x quicker than Sky and BT’s, keeping your smart devices connected and ready to use.
If you’re not happy with the internet speeds you’re getting across your household, check here to see if we’re in your area. We’d love to introduce you to superfast!
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:
- Log into your router as admin.
- Go to Settings and find Wireless Settings.
- Find the Channel option, it will usually be set to Auto.
- Change it to your desired channel.
- 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.
If you have good broadband speed, very few devices connected to your WIFi signal and the device your using is bang up to date but still running very slow, somebody might be piggybacking your signal.
You will need to go about this differently depending on the manufacturer of your router. So check with the user documentation given by your provider or ring them for assistance. At Virgin Media we would be happy to help in such an instance.
You need to check your router logs for a record of any devices that are connecting and disconnecting from your network. Most commonly, routers will show these connections by MAC (Media Access Controller) address. Printers, laptops, TVs, handheld devices and smartphones will all have a unique 12-character field MAC address, each character being a hexadecimal (0-9 and A-F).
Check the user documentation of all your devices to find their unique MAC address and look at your logs to find any devices that shouldn’t be there.
List all the MAC addresses of all the devices that are connecting to your network in your home. Then build a table of said MAC addresses in your router. From then on it will only respond to connection requests from interfaces in the table.
Either that or change the password on your router. Most routers are set to a standard password that intruders can easily access. Change it to something personal that no-one could ever guess.
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.
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…
Walking from your bedroom to the kitchen considered an HIIT workout in your home? WiFi travels okay over distances – up to a cool 100m in clear air – but gets a lot weaker if it has lots of walls or staircases to get by. If you have a large home then a WiFi extender could help solve the lack of WiFi strength upstairs and in the rear of the accommodation.
Does your home play host to multiple internet-savvy occupants who are using multiple internet-hungry devices at the same time from all corners of the property? A communal WiFi extender will help disseminate the signal in a fair manner and avoid any confrontation.
Downloading big games, watching Netflix, uploading files on your laptop for work and chatting to Alexa all at the same time? Then a WiFi booster could be a no-brainer.
A lot of old properties have incredibly tough walls. Understandably, WiFi finds it as hard to penetrate such walls as, so you might need to give the signal a helping hand to get round them.
Areas of a property that don’t seem to get WiFi no matter how good your broadband package are known as dead zones. These can be combatted using WiFi extenders to bring those obsolete spaces a breath of digital fresh air.