Internet frustrations arising from an unreliable connection, weak signal or poor speed have been a reality for most of us since we “got connected”. There are multiple factors at work, and you need to understand how they all interconnect. We’ve compiled the information you need to help you get the best internet speed in your home. By the time you’ve finished reading this article, you will have the know-how of where to look to improve your internet speed.
Before we begin, let’s clarify what speed is and to do that, we must first understand that the internet and Wi-Fi are two different things, and both impact the speeds you experience.
The internet is a global network that connects people, businesses, governments, and organisations. Communication services, information and entertainment are accessible via the internet. Wi-Fi is a local wireless network that can deliver the internet to compatible devices and allow devices on the same Wi-Fi network to communicate with each other. The friction across the internet and Wi-Fi landscape is what can ultimately affect speeds. Let’s dive into understanding what this all means.
The role of ISPs
An Internet Service Provider (ISP) is a company that primarily provides internet to individuals, households and businesses. Some have other supplementary service offerings such as power, mobile phone services and even insurance.
Limitations of ISPs in improving your internet speed
ISPs have some influence over the network and internet speed delivered into your house. However, ISPs have no control over the strength and speed of internet delivered through a Wi-Fi connection (or within your home).
Why is my Wi-Fi bad at night?
A broadband internet network is like our highway network; it’s shared between all users and there’s only so much simultaneous traffic it can handle. Peak hours for internet usage are at night between 7-11pm, when people are back home from work and school and are glued to their internet-guzzling smart devices. When there is more demand and traffic than the network can handle, it slows down the entire network and causes congestion.
What’s the difference between a modem and a router?
Your modem converts the signal from your dish/antenna into an internet connection, while your router then takes that internet signal and provides a Wi-Fi network which allows you to connect your devices wirelessly. You are able to connect directly to your modem but this would require an ethernet cable – like the old days of the internet when you would have to plug your laptop or computer in via wires.
Can a new or better modem improve my internet speed (or Wi-Fi)?
Modems tend to be ISP specific so it will depend on what your network operator says as to whether there is a premium option or not. The difference between a standard modem and a premium modem could be hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
Can a new or better router improve my internet speed (or Wi-Fi)?
Different routers can provide greater coverage and in turn better connectivity – but will not be able to exceed the limitations of the connection being supplied to them. A ‘better’ router will often provide a Wi-Fi network over a greater area, thus improving your connectivity across a larger house or property.
Does having two routers improve my internet speed?
Multiple routers or a mesh system can provide better coverage around a space and increase the reliability of a Wi-Fi network. This is a great option for larger homes with connectivity required more than 10-20m away from the modem. Always remember however, this is again limited by the internet strength coming to the modem as well as walls and other structures in the way.
What is a bad/weak Wi-Fi signal?
While most devices that access the internet via a Wi-Fi connection have the familiar three-bar symbol that indicates the strength of the connection – this symbol can be a little misleading, with three bars indicating anywhere between 100% and 75% per cent signal strength, two bars indicating between 75% and 50% and one bar anywhere up to 50%.
Losing only one bar from the signal can create the impression that there’s still a strong connection; however, it may only be at 60% signal strength – which will have a noticeable effect on applications, browsing and communication.
Wi-Fi signal is measured explicitly in dBm. Here’s what it means for you:
Wireless network design with best effort (-50dBm to – 67dBM) is considered good network connectivity to the end user’s device.
How is a Wi-Fi signal transmitted inside a home, and what causes weak Wi-Fi in different rooms?
Wi-Fi networks are provided by routers and provide the strongest signal when they are within line of sight of a device – so being in the same room as your Wi-Fi router will result in the best browsing experience. Anything between a router and a device (walls, windows, furniture) and the materials those barriers are made of (wood vs concrete vs metal) will also affect the strength of the signal reaching your device.
How to get strong Wi-Fi in every room?
While a single router can provide a Wi-Fi network that can only reach so far, ‘mesh’ setups that use multiple router-like devices can extend a Wi-Fi network by daisy chaining the connection and helping it reach further.
Wi-Fi extenders are devices that are placed within range of a single router that then provides a different network that extends further – so they act similarly to a mesh system but are not as synchronised.
What causes weak Wi-Fi signals on mobile devices?
While the distance from a router or access point would be the key factor in the strength of Wi-Fi a device is receiving, the type and age of a device can also come into play. Generally, the higher the specification of a device, the better its performance.
iPhone and Android devices both offer Wi-fi connectivity options. However, older and lower-end phones with inferior hardware are often slow in loading webpages and struggle to deliver graphics and apps.
Does having too many devices slow down your Wi-Fi?
The short and simple answer is yes!
Your router must communicate with multiple devices on the same network simultaneously, which puts a lot of stress on bandwidth. As a result, the total bandwidth is divided and shared between all the devices on the network. Staying close to the access point/router should offer you better speeds but your overall speed will be limited by the number of devices on the network at any given time.
Do smart devices slow down your Wi-Fi?
Suppose you’re using smart devices in your home to complete simple tasks (e.g. using voice assistants such as Alexa and Google home), In that case, the short answer is no. However, if your smart devices are running bandwidth-heavy tasks like HD video streaming or online gaming, this can place increased pressure on your Wi-Fi network.
You now know what can be done to improve the internet speed in your home; from investing in Wi-Fi extenders to positioning your modem in an open and centralised space and staying aware of congestion periods. Be mindful of the walls that disrupt the Wi-Fi signal, and stay close to your router. Remember that the internet in the home can be scarce and the more people that are connected, the less there is to go around.
There are a variety of ways you can get the best performance out of your home Wi-Fi. If you still have questions about the internet, Wi-Fi and how it all works, check out our helpful rural broadband blog page. Alternatively, you can contact one of our experts to find out which internet connection option best suits you.