It’s one of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to WiFi. What’s the best way to boost WiFi signal? And as broadband speeds increase, more and more homes and businesses are asking.
The gap between wired and wireless internet connection speeds is in danger of becoming a yawning chasm. So what can you do if your WiFi is lagging behind?
The answer may seem counter-intuitive, but it’s the only one that genuinely works: good old hard wiring.
How to increase WiFi speed?
For many people the answer can be straightforward and cheap. However for some, that simple question can be the start of a long and soul-destroying quest of epic proportions.
A Google search for the best way to boost WiFi signal yields results that will probably help, to some degree, in about 80% of cases. There’s helpful how-to’s with low cost/free WiFi hacks. These include simply moving your router, or changing broadcast channel to a less crowded one. There’s also more elaborate DIY fixes involving empty drinks cans or tin foil. (If you’ve never received a Blue Peter badge, this could be your chance.)
In the ads at the top of the page you’ll probably find a multitude of wireless boosting gizmos. Most seem to get pretty good reviews of 4 – 4.5 stars, suggesting around 80-90% of users are happy with the results.
But are there fundamental problems with how we approach WiFi?
Do we need to re-calibrate expectations of our WiFi?
Yes, most people will more than likely find an OK solution to improve poor WiFi relatively easily. But what about the 20% that don’t? Also, do we as users really know what ‘good’ looks like when it comes to WiFi? Are we so used to waiting for a web page to load, or a video to finish buffering, that we’re just grateful when it finally does? Would that 80-90% satisfaction rate still stand if we knew what we were missing out on?
What’s really bringing this issue into focus is the advent of superfast broadband. According to government figures, by mid-2018 10 million UK households and businesses had upgraded to 24 Mbps+ broadband services. The equipment traditionally used to deliver WiFi around our homes and workplaces can’t keep up. And the gap is becoming even more obvious with the roll out of ultrafast fibre broadband, packing 200 Mbps+ speeds.
The biggest problem with most solutions designed to extend WiFi range is that they rely entirely on wireless signals.
When WiFi becomes its own worst enemy
When looking for the best way to boost WiFi signal, there’s a real danger of missing the blindingly obvious. As technology gets smarter and sleeker, we’re becoming so used to everything being ‘wireless’ that we risk becoming cable-phobic WiFi snobs. Anything connected via a cable somehow seems old fashioned, outdated, ugly.
A case in point is the latest flavour of the month, mesh WiFi. The problem is, like so many other boosting devices designed to extend WiFi range, it relies on getting a good signal wirelessly between WiFi access points. Fine if your walls and floors are paper thin. Not so great if your building’s construction involves thick walls, metal joists, underfloor heating, concrete reinforcements, and any of numerous other WiFi-blocking materials.
When it comes to delivering a wireless signal around a building, as soon as cable is taken out of the equation, the law of diminishing returns applies.
Network cabling is the only 99.99999999% reliable way to distribute WiFi around a building without degrading the signal. Think of it like an intravenous drip for your WiFi. It gets the good stuff directly to where it’s needed, and fast.
And it’s not like you have to have it draped around your home like Dad does the tinsel at Christmas! There are many ways to hide, or at the very least minimise visibility, of network cable:
- In cavity walls and loft spaces
- Under floorboards
- Outside the building, behind guttering, fascias or foliage
- Under carpet and floor coverings
- Behind furniture or other static fixtures and fittings, like radiators
If the only option is to surface mount there’s also modern decorative trunking, with multiple finish options designed to blend into different environments. And network cable can even be painted to match the surrounding decor.
Arguably a small downside compared to the abject frustration, and potential cost, of slow WiFi, buffering and wireless signal drop-outs.
In our experience, probably the number one concern raised by customers prior to installation is cabling aesthetics. Once the work is complete however, it’s surprising how little is visible, as evidenced by these customer comments.
If poor WiFi is driving you to distraction and none of the fixes on the market are working for you, it could be time to bite the bullet and embrace the cable.
Get help to boost your WiFi signal
If you’re struggling to find the best way to boost WiFi signal in your business or home, we can help.
We offer a free WiFi survey, as well as professional wired and wireless network installations in the Bristol and Bath area. Contact us today for friendly, local WiFi help and advice.