These days, more often than not, people naturally associate the performance of the Internet in their home or business with how it is working on a wireless device like a smart phone, tablet or laptop or a smart TV. In this case there is more than one aspect to getting strong broadband. It starts with a pipe that is adequate. The phrase “high speed broadband” gets tossed around very liberally. The Federal Communications Commission considers “high speed Internet” to be speeds of 25 Mbps or higher. In markets where commZoom operates, that eliminates just about everyone, except us of course. Whether it’s fixed wireless, satellite or phone company DSL, you’re not going to get that kind of speed typically. As you know, commZoom offers download speeds of up to 100 Mbps (up to 300 Mbps in several markets) over miles of hard-wired hybrid fiber-coax plant. Enough shameless plugging.
The next matter for discussion is also important to your broadband experience. We will deliver the aforementioned speed, and all other speed increments, to a modem, which is connected to a a wired connection. When you order Internet access service from commZoom. we’re going to bring you a modem that we will install to get you the service you’ve ordered. To get WiFi, you need a router, which has a different function than a modem. We recommend an 802.11 ac or 802.11 n (or higher) router. This is the piece of gear that gets the signal out into your home or office so that other devices can connect without being connected directly to the modem. These can be purchased at all kinds of retailers, online or we’ll offer it as an optional activation on an all-in-one modem/router (mostly for residential service). Once you have the signal on a router, then multiple devices can be connected.
But wait, there’s more. Not all WiFi signals and are created equal. We went to commZoom’s Director of Information Technology, Darron Legnon, to get some tips on things you can do that will enhance your WiFi experience.
Q: We often hear people say they want WiFi service and we know that what they really mean is they want Internet service. Let’s start with explaining the difference between the two.
Darron: That’s a great question to start with. Today most customers are essentially using tablet devices and mobile devices of all sorts. What that means is if the customer has Internet service installed in their house, a lot of times, they don’t have wireless capability. When the provider installs Internet for the first time in the residence they have the option to add wireless services (or provide it themselves) to enable mobile and tablet devices to have Internet access essentially anywhere around the house where there is coverage. Or for Xbox gaming, or Apple iPads or Android devices. Any of those sorts of devices. Nowadays you see some home security systems that also have wireless capabilities. So what happens is the customer has the modem installed in their house and can only hook up one device to it at a time if they have it hard wired. If you have wireless capability it allows you to add multiple devices and share that same internet connection. You can’t have WiFi capability without Internet but you can have Internet without WiFi.
Q: Without getting too technical here, what do people need to connect those other devices besides the hard-wired desktop that they have?
Darron: Most Internet providers these days, including us here at commZoom, offer a modem that is wireless capable. We offer it as an option. Technology today is usually wireless “N” or wireless “AC”. What that means is these are different wireless technologies, different revisions of it, that allows devices to get the best signal be it through walls, around appliances, etc.
Q: A lot of folks have routers and they may have had them for a long time. Is that something you should upgrade? Does it have a limited shelf life?
Darron: Yes, it’s just like anything else technology-wise. Your cars eventually get old and out dated and you’d like to have the newest thing. It’s the same thing with routers and wireless technology itself. A router you may have had for ten years, the speed capability of it may not be sufficient enough to handle the load of all of the mobile devices, tablets, smart TV’s and any other devices you may have in the house. You may be bottlenecking your connection between your modem and the devices themselves and it may seem like your Internet connection is slow when realistically it’s your wireless router that may not be up to the job.
Q: Are there things that folks should consider like obstructions, walls or whatever? Are there WiFi extenders folks could use?
Darron: Yes. There are a couple of different recommendations. Essentially what you want to try to accomplish is to have your WiFi router in a centralized spot in the house that will essentially cover the four or five corners of your house. If you have a larger house, they make devices called WiFi Extenders which you can plug those in to multiple areas where the signal may not be that great. Essentially what those devices do is take the signal and retransmit it to the other ends of your building or house to get you a better signal. With wireless AC technology, it’s more efficient going through walls and around appliances and having less interference so that when you are using a tablet device or smart phone you’re not as affected by those obstructions in the environment where you’re trying to get a signal.
CEO’s Editorial Comment:
“These little extenders aren’t bad. They’re not expensive. The one I bought was about $20. It plugs into an electrical outlet. I have a little office in my home that is no more than 15 feet from the router location. However, the WiFi signal has to go through two walls and around a corner to get to my laptop in this room. With those kinds of common obstructions, I was slowing from a 45 Mbps connection (I don’t have commZoom where I live!) down to 1994 speeds. I could get mail faster. I put in an extender, set it up and it made the situation much better.”
Want more tips? Check out our WiFi 2.0 article on how to optimize your home’s WiFi performance!