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Internet and WiFi-What’s In a Name?

Many people confuse the terms WiFi and internet. Internet is the world-wide web. WiFi is a technique of connecting multiple devices to an internet circuit from a wireless router device.

There is common confusion of these terms, but it is important to understand the difference in order to optimize the experience of accessing the internet.

With the arrival of COVID-19 in March of 2020 there has been a massive increase in the number of people accessing the internet all day from home for work, school, shopping and entertainment. Many people are using a wired broadband connection in their homes for the first time as they learn more clearly that mobile phone access provides sub-standard performance and not efficient for a multi-user, multi-use environment.

Here are some tips that will improve the performance of WiFi in your home or business:

Why does my Wi-Fi disconnect frequently or run slowly?

Every single home in the world has some degree, whether small or large, of wireless interference – or EMI (electro-magnetic interference). Additionally, interference sometimes originates from outside the home. This can cause issues maintaining a connection to the wireless network and can also affect the speed of the wireless connection. Wireless performance cannot be guaranteed due the many variables in homes which can affect wireless connections. It also helps to reduce the number of devices on your network. Having dozens of things tapping into the Wi-Fi at once can be problematic.

If the computers, which have a hard-wired connection with Ethernet are working well, but the Wi-Fi devices are not, then the issue at hand is likely EMI (electro- magnetic interference). While the list of variables that can cause EMI is massive, there are some basic and common things we can check to improve the Wi-Fi signal:

How high is the router off the ground?

Generally we want the router to be about 3-5 feet off of the ground, or in other words, at about the same height as the devices being used or even higher.

Is the wireless signal traveling through walls?

Some walls cause interference more than others. For example, walls made of steel will cause massive interference; walls with plumbing in them will cause significant interference, and walls with electrical wiring inside will also cause some degree of interference.

Is the router near any electronic equipment?

For best results, try to separate the router from any electronic devices – especially home theater equipment and appliances, but even smaller devices as well. Wireless baby monitors, cordless phones, wireless headphones, and key fobs are more examples of devices that can affect your devices ability to keep a connection to the wireless router

Are there any other wireless technologies in the home?

Devices that utilize Radio Frequency (RF) can impact wireless signal in your home. Please make sure all devices which use wireless frequency as well as radio frequency are positioned away from the router as much as possible.

Which frequency is the router using?

Most routers now use dual band technology, broadcasting at the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies. The 5 GHz band will get you a faster connection to the internet, though it has a shorter range than 2.4 GHz. If troubleshooting EMI is not producing results, try setting your device to utilize the 5 GHz band instead. Please bear in mind, any devices which will connect to the network must be capable of communicating at 5 GHz. Using this frequency is particularly helpful when surrounded by other wireless networks or when all other troubleshooting fails. If you must use the 2.4 GHz band try changing the channel to whichever out of the nonoverlapping channels 1, 6, and 11 has the least traffic and/or interference. Note: Changing the frequency on your router is a fairly simple process. Simply google “How do I change the frequency on my wireless router?” for an assortment of useful information and instructions.

What security standard should I be using for my home?

This can depend on what the router can provide, and what the device can support. If all of your devices are manufactured after 2006, your router should be configured to use WPA2-AES. This is strongest encryption algorithm available and provides the best security. Remember to never share your Wi-Fi password with any neighbor or anyone you don’t trust.

For more on this topic, see our post from November 2017 and the interview with Darron Legnon, commZoom’s Director of Information Technology. 

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