Electricity, Gas, Water, WiFi ...You'd be forgiven for perceiving WiFi as you would any other household utility, do you know anyone who hasn't got home broadband? ...probably not!
Now here's the issue... You don't have to keep turning your water, gas or electricity supplies off and on again to work properly, so why do we tolerate this with our broadband or WiFi? The answer is of course that the delivery of broadband with WiFi is much more complex for the service providers as many factors and even third parties are depended upon as well as the quality of equipment provided such as routers.
Firstly here's a really basic guide to how you get broadband via WiFi in your home:
- Broadband (and fibre) is provided via your phone line which depends upon your external an internal wiring being up to scratch, many broadband issues can be attributed to internal phone wiring such as badly wired extensions or where applicable the omission of line filters.
- Your router is plugged into the Master Phone Socket, connection via long extensions or leads, for instance to an upstairs office, can cause reliability problems. As a rule extend the network, not the phone lead.
- Your router (usually provided by your ISP, eg. BT) as a rule is pre-configured with the correct credentials such as username and password to authenticate your router onto the IPS's network and then onto the Internet. The tech-ie bit - Your ISP assigns your network an external IP address which identifies you on the internet.
- When online your router offers 2 ways to connect to the Internet, Wired - through several sockets on the back of the router or via WiFi - A wireless connection method which offers freedom to move around the house while maintaining your connection. Wherever possible I personally prefer a wired connection (say the your computer is in a fixed location such as your desk) as you're not dependent on WiFi and therefore there's less to go potentially wrong.
More about the magic of WiFi:
- Wifi comes at two speeds or bandwidths on most modern routers 2.4Ghz, this is the strongest and more reliable bandwidth but delivers a slower connection to the internet, that said in most cases you'd only really notice the difference when transferring large files either locally or online. 5Ghz is much faster that 2.4Ghz but is more prone to loss of signal quality though distance of natural obstacles such as stone walls. My advice is stick to 2.4Ghz.
- Plug your router into the Master Socket and don't sit it on the floor, a table or sideboard is much better for good signal quality. Don't forget routers and phone extension leads are bad 🙁
- NEVER NEVER NEVER use home WiFi without protection - You should have an SSID (your WiFi name) and a Password, if your network does not you'll need to get this fixed FAST as it could be a really bad security risk.
- WiFi Extenders are a great way to get your Internet connection to say an upstairs or even garden office without the hassle of having network cables professionally installed.
Common WiFi Issues:
- Extension leads or bad wiring - I know I keep going on about extension leads but they really are the spawn of the devil! Don't use them! If your broadband keeps going bad, it might be the actual Internet connection or it might be a WiFi issue on the router.
- Have you tried turning it off and on again? I know it's an old cliché but in most cases this will do the trick, if the issue is a one-off or very occasional then there's really no need to worry, but if the fault keeps coming back further intervention may be required. If you switch your router off and back on agin too often then the ISP may put your connection into fault mode, a much slower connection speed while the connection if monitored for further issues, use this trick sparingly.
- It might not be your fault! The first thing you should always do the you have a problem with your broadband is call your ISP to check there's not an issue their end, sometimes you can cause faults at your end that weren't there before! Check first!
- Routers don't last forever! Your router works very hard, distributing your internet connection over wired and WiFi 24/7 year after year, eventually they degrade in performance the eventually stop working all together. If your router is provided by your ISP you may need to argue and jump through some hoops to get it replace but do persevere as a new router often makes all the difference to speed and reliability.