By Matthew Campbell, Head of SME and FTTH at SEACOM
People often take their home WiFi for granted and just assume that it will work in every room around the clock. In many cases, the WiFi signal even extends beyond the walls of the house, but this doesn’t mean that all rooms inside will have signal. Since WiFi is essentially radio waves, obstructions and interferences do exist, which results in dead spots where the signal doesn’t reach.
This can be particularly annoying if the dead spot is in your bed or your favourite couch. By identifying these dead zones, you can make a plan to fix them and maximise your WiFi signal throughout your home. Luckily, this doesn’t require expensive software or a fancy computer degree either.
Causes of WiFi dead spots
Most houses and apartments were built before WiFi existed, so their layout and construction aren’t always conducive to connectivity. Open-plan homes are far better at minimising dead spots, but if your home is older than 20 years, you’re likely to encounter a couple of places with weak WiFi signal.
The contents of our homes can also affect this signal and reduce its strength. Large metal appliances like stoves and fridges may block WiFi, whereas signal-producing devices such as microwaves and baby monitors may interfere with the network. Other WiFi networks in neighbouring apartments may also negatively impact your connection.
The distance from the router is a major factor in signal strength – the further a device is from the router, the harder it will be to connect and use. Remote locations, such as a garage, basement or balcony may have no WiFi signal at all. These are the sorts of things you need to consider when looking for dead spots.
Detecting and fixing dead zones
Finding these dead spots is as simple as connecting your phone to your WiFi and then walking around the house and garden. Watch the signal strength on the screen and note the areas where it dips or cuts out completely. It may even help to draw a rough sketch of your floor plan and mark the spots with weak signal.
Once you know where the problem areas lie, you can begin to address them by boosting your WiFi signal or moving your router to a more central location:
- Move your router or any obstructions – The first step is to move your WiFi router to a more central location which will allow the radio waves to penetrate through all doors and openings between rooms. It may be worth moving the router closer to the room where you will use the WiFi the most, such as an office, TV lounge or bedroom. Try not to place the router near thick brick walls, metal objects or other signal blockers. You can also try to move any potential obstructions by repositioning them in the house.
- Change the router channel – If you can’t move the router or if it’s already in the ideal spot, then try switching the channel to a less congested one. To do this, find your router settings and test the different channels to see if you get a signal improvement. Some routers may have a WiFi analyzer tool that will help you find the least congested channel for your network.
- Buy a signal booster – A WiFi booster, repeater or extender is an inexpensive solution that eliminates dead spots and extends the network’s coverage. These devices comprise two wireless routers that receive the existing signal from the main router and amplify it to far reaching spaces in the house. It’s essentially a repeater station that can be positioned in a different part of the home to boost the network.
- Upgrade your router – You may have the fastest and most reliable fibre network, but if your WiFi router is old or outdated, or if it wasn’t given to you by your ISP, then it could be beneficial to upgrade it to a more powerful model.
There are many factors that may affect the WiFi signal in your home, but by spending time looking for the dead spots, you can come up with some cheap and easy solutions. Since home connectivity is a priority for many South Africans, WonderNet will throw in a free WiFi router when you sign up for one of our home fibre packages. For more information about our fibre offerings or to get a quote for an internet upgrade, please contact us today or check if we’re connected to your address.