Our home life is more dependent than ever on the quality of wireless internet access, or WiFi. Signal strength, number of connected devices, reliability, and speed of service are just a few of the features of WiFi that are now everyday considerations. Optimizing your home data network, including WiFi, means managing these variables and building a wireless infrastructure that is as reliable as your household electrical or plumbing systems. Here are a few options to improve the quality of your home wireless network.
If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It.
Most folks realize that the constant advancements in technology means obsolescence of old technology. The manufacturers are improving the speed and quality of new items, at the expense of the continued functionality of legacy devices. Your stuff that used to work fine becomes slow or fails to function at all. You really have no choice but to update your old hardware before it fails.
Have you ever used an extension cord in your home and noticed the cord got warm or even hot to the touch? You know that happens because there are too many devices plugged into the receiving end of that extension cord and you’ve overloaded the cord. Similarly, your home wireless system will overload, slow down, and fail if too many devices are connected to it. These days there’s plenty you can connect to your wireless network including phones, tablets, computers, game consoles, televisions, thermostats, doorbells, security cameras, appliances, and the list grows every day.
Local internet service providers (ISP) commonly include the wireless equipment you need with your monthly service plan. Where I live, that’s AT&T or Cox Media. With the hardware you receive, you’ll likely have adequate service if you live in a home with less than 1000 sq ft and if you don’t try to use more than a half dozen or so devices. If you need an additional upgrade in quality, your local retailers and on-line shops like Amazon carry a dizzying quantity of wireless routers that range in price from $40 to $300 or much more. Be careful what you buy because despite your best efforts and investment, it’s possible to make your home system worse.
WiFi Coverage is the Most Common Problem We Find.
The WiFi transmission or coverage area is the dome that surrounds the wireless router and several factors limit that coverage including sheet-rock walls. The solution is to increase the number of transmitters or access points in your home. This can be accomplished with addition of ceiling mounted devices that look like smoke detectors to extend the range of the transmission. Access points connect by wire to the “home base,” the router supplied by your ISP. In this scenario, the best practice is to disable the wireless feature of your ISP-supplied router. Sometimes they will help you with this and sometimes not.
You can also create a “mesh network” within your home with a series of small boxes from “eero.” Each eero box plugs into the wall for power and uses other eero boxes to “hop” the WiFi transmission back to the home router. The eero system is sophisticated enough that all boxes automatically find each other and connect to create optimum coverage and give you the best wireless speeds possible. Little to no installation is required for this solution.
You gain incredible functionality when you allow your newly purchased electronics to connect to the internet, and you do that through your WiFi network. The number of devices you can connect to your wireless network is growing at an exponential rate. Industry pundits tell us internet connectivity is the default of the future, and you’ll be at a distinct disadvantage when not connecting. When you improve your WiFi connectivity, you literally are improving your life.