Top 5 Reasons Why Your WiFi May Be Slow at Home

Mar 25, 2020

With so many Albertans being asked to work from home and with schools closed more fights will break out in the homes unless everyone can have the internet speeds they need. It’s one thing to have access to your favorite programs on Netflix, but it is another when you can’t get video conferencing working for an important business meeting. WiFi in your home has suddenly become a critical element of peace in the home. This article will walk you through simple tips to get your WiFi ready for the serious business of working from home.

1. There are too many client devices connected to the Acess Point.

The issue is capacity when you have too many devices all competing for the same amount of attention. Kind of like when you are trying to work from home, and you must deal with your children, pets and others that need your attention. You can only help one person at a time and so it is with your WiFi access point (AP). When you have additional devices at home that are all communicating with a single AP it will slow everything down. With WiFi, the more client devices that are associated to an access point, the more clients utilizing the same channel, and the more clients actively contending for time, then the longer it will take for everyone to be heard – hence, lower throughput.

The Fix:

Minimize the number of client devices associated to the AP or add another AP.


2. You picked a bad spot to place your Access Point and have low signal strength.

It can be frustrating when kids are shouting from the upstairs bathroom telling you there is no more toilet paper, and you can’t hear a word they said.  WiFi APs and devices must be able to hear each other well enough to understand what the other is saying in order to have effective communication. The further away a connected device is from their associated AP and the more physical barriers between them, such as the walls in your home, the weaker the received signal will be, and the more throughput will be impacted.

Signal strength is measured in units of negative decibel-milliwatts (dBm), and is a way of describing how well you can hear someone after factoring in distance and physical barriers. The closer someone is to you and the fewer the barriers, the more likely you will be able to hear them and make out what they are saying.

The Fix:

Move the AP closest to where you use WiFi the most.

If you have stationary devices (XBOX, TV, Desktops) and are able to plug in the ethernet line, plug in the ethernet line.

If you still are experiencing poor coverage in the areas you use WiFi the most, consider adding an additional AP or a WiFi extender.


3. You have legacy device issues.

The older you are the harder it becomes for you to hear others and at times for them to hear you, it is just the facts of getting old. Same goes with WiFi devices that are past their prime. WiFi devices have several standards, the older the device the higher likelihood of it not working with newer cell phones, tablets and laptops. 802.11 describes a suite of standards for wireless local area networks that is governed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) – view http://www.ieee802.org/11/ for more information.

Essentially, think of 802.11 as ‘WiFi’ and 802.11a/b/g/n/ac as the main WiFi iterations of standards for WiFi chipsets that are in the WiFi devices that we use. Depending on which standard the chipset in your AP follows and the chipset in your client device follows, you may not be getting the full throughput potential that you could be getting. If you have a device on your network using an older standard, then you will experience lower throughput not only with that device, but with all other devices associated to the same AP.

Here is a quick reference for the max potential data rates for each Wi-Fi standard mentioned above:

802.11 (2.4GHz, released 1997): 2 Mbps

802.11b (2.4GHz, released 1999): 11 Mbps

802.11a (5 GHz, released 1999): 54 Mbps

802.11g (2.4GHz, released 2003): 54 Mbps

802.11n (2.4 GHz / 5 GHz, released 2009): 600 Mbps

802.11ac (5 GHz, released 2013): 6.93 Gbps

Note that 802.11n and 802.11ac data rate potentials are quite high; 7 Gbps download sounds pretty awesome! Unfortunately, these rates are not yet achievable… But, one day…

The Fix:

If you do not have 802.11b devices on your WiFi network, access your AP’s control panel and disable lower data rates.

Consider investing in newer APs and client devices that are 802.11n/ac enabled.


4. You are relying too much on 2.4 GHz and not enough on 5 GHz.

Data streaming over 2.4 GHz band has slower data transfer potential than data streaming over 5 GHz band. Without getting too technical, 5 GHz can transmit data faster than 2.4 GHz. 5 GHz also has more usable WiFi channels, which means you can have more devices, using channels to increase bandwidth and avoid high channel utilization and other impediments such as co-channel interference (CCI) and adjacent channel interference. 5 GHz has more options to be on a channel with less interference and congestion, giving them greater potential to experience better throughput rates.

The Fix:

As much as possible, plan for using the 5 GHz band.

For 2.4 GHz band only devices, select the channel (1, 6, or 11) that has the least amount of networks.


5. You purchased the wrong internet plan.

With options for high speed internet at home and the introduction of Fiber into many neighborhoods this shouldn’t be a problem. However, the increase of internet usage in the neighborhood will have experienced a huge spike with kids and parents all working from home.

Cable internet is a shared service, so you may want to consider upgrading your internet to rule out any issues with speed. Did you purchase a plan that offers 30 Mbps download speeds and you have a family that loves streaming video at the same time on their own personal devices? Then, you may have purchased a plan that does not provide the download speeds that fit your needs…

The Tools:

Use an internet speed test service to run a throughput test to see what your download and upload speeds are where you use WiFi the most.

The Fix:

Check your internet plan and consider upgrading if you are not getting the max throughput speeds that will meet your needs.

Resource:

Minimum Requirements for Video Conferencing from Home: https://www.popsci.com/story/technology/work-from-home-broadband-connection-internet-fcc/

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