Horse Sense #145

How to Increase Wi-Fi Speed

If you work at home and use a wireless connection, the following information may help you.

Intel is one of the world's largest makers of Wi-Fi components for computers. Their suggestions on how to improve your Wi-Fi throughput are at the following link (which also leads you to more information on their Wi-Fi offerings):

In addition, here are a few basics that it pays to remember:

(1) Your Wi-Fi speed is based on how far away your device's antenna is from the receiving antenna. If you get far enough away, you will not be able to connect at all.

(2) No matter how capable the sender and receiver hardware is, the connection is limited to the least capable.

(3) Even though (2) applies, newer, more capable access points can extend both the range and effective speed of the connection to both newer and older devices. For example, a new 802.11ac wave 2 beam forming access point with MIMO will outperform an older 802.11n access point by quite a bit even if your connecting device is older.

(4) People think that turning up the transmit power on one or both ends is a good idea. Unfortunately, it's like yelling: if the listener cannot hear (or can hear but cannot audibly respond), you will not have good communication. In fact, to offer better security, coverage, and connectivity with less interference, wireless installers often lower the output power and create more overlapping Wi-Fi zones in larger spaces.

(5) Although MIMO allows for signals to bounce off objects, Wi-Fi works best on line of site connections. Wireless signals pass through wood and sheet rock walls easily, so think of a direct line between your device and the access point. Unfortunately, chicken wire, screens, or water can absorb the signal entirely. Plaster walls, screen doors, and fish tanks can cut the signal to zero. As humans are composed of mostly water, they block signals as well. Any solid metal like a refrigerator will bounce the signal, creating a dead zone behind it. Bounced signals can make it back to the router if it is a newer MIMO variety, but the bounce path has to work (multiple metal objects). Keep line of sight to the router clear of absorbing or scattering obstacles if you can. Most obstacles are low. Place your access point high up to avoid them. Even when I am trying to get signal in the basement, I find my wireless router works best on the top floor with bedrooms rather than on the middle floor with the kitchen and its big appliances. You can move an obstacle or the access point itself to improve reception.

(6) Sometimes you cannot get a wireless signal from the access point where you want it to go. When this happens, you have two choices: (a) an access point that relays back to the primary through a wireless connection (although this method can cut the maximum speed in half) or (b) a wired connection. You can even use the electrical wires in your house so that you do not have to run a cable.

(7) Wireless will always be slower, less reliable, and less secure than wired connections. If you have a choice, go with wired. If you have a choice of Wi-Fi bands, pick 5GHz over 2.4GHz. There is less chance of interference, and you can usually get much higher connection rates.

(8) The type of antenna used and its orientation can greatly influence speed and connectivity. Newer access points and radios in mobile devices use multiple antennas. Simply positioning your mobile device in a certain direction or bending the antennas of the access point differently can make a big difference in connectivity. Want to keep an access point from transmitting through the brick to the neighborhood while extending its capabilities inside the house? Put a tin foil sheet on the wall right next to the access point where you do not want the signal to go. MIMO routers are able to see bounced signals a little better, and the signal will not go through the brick anymore.

(9) Keep your wireless access point and mobile devices away from other devices that broadcast signals. Microwaves, some cordless phones, and your neighbors' access points can interfere with your signal.

(10) Wireless devices connect at the most stable rate available. Although you may see fantastic connection statistics for an access point or mobile device, real world interference, distance, obstacles, compatibilities, and other issues will crop up. Do not expect to be able to hit the maximum rated speeds except under ideal conditions. Even if you could reach these speeds, the access point might not communicate to the wired network at these rates if the wired connection is not that fast.

(11) Wireless devices all share the available bandwidth and available connections. Whereas an access point might handle up to 60 occasional "talkers," it might only support 10 high "talkers." What one person is doing on the wireless network affects everyone else on that same wireless connection. For instance, someone streaming a high definition movie can soak up the bandwidth, keeping someone else from playing a game.

(12) If you want to check your Wi-Fi signal and those of others in the area, Wi-Fi Analyzer works quite well on my Android phone. You might be surprised how many Wi-Fi signals you see.

(13) Secure your access point, even for guests. This will keep unwanted devices, like those in your neighbor's house, from accessing your network and impacting your experience.

If you still have questions or are trying to work on a business installation, please contact us!

©2019 Tony Stirk, Iron Horse