How Fast Should My WiFi Be?
Before you embark on the quest for faster WiFi, you should first figure out how fast your WiFi is supposed to be. You might find out that the speeds you’re currently getting are actually the maximum speeds you can reasonably expect to get.
To start with, you should find out how fast your home internet is. If you’re not sure, contact your internet provider and ask. Let’s say you have a 100 Mbps connection going into your house — that’s 100 megaBITS per second. Since nobody except for ISPs thinks in megabits, it’s useful to convert the number to megabytes per second, which gives us 12.5 megaBYTES per second.
In other words, it should take you approximately 1 second to download a 12.5 megabytes-large file from the internet under ideal conditions, of course.
But that assumption is only applicable for hard-wired connections and not for wireless networks. When you download a file over WiFi, you introduce several important variables, with your wireless router being the most important one.
WiFi routers broadcast on two main frequencies — 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz — and each of these frequencies is divided into several channels. What’s more, WiFi routers use several different IEEE 802.11 protocols, which provide the basis for wireless network products using the WiFi brand.
The oldest still commonly used WiFi protocol is 802.11g, and it supports transmissions speeds of only 54 Mbps, or roughly 6.75 megabytes per second. If you have an older wireless router that only supports the 802.11g WiFi protocol, and you pay for a 100 Mbps internet connection, it’s impossible for you to utilize your connection to its maximum capacity. In that case, your only option is to upgrade to a newer router, which, of course, isn’t free.
But what if you have a newer router, let’s say one that supports the 802.11ac WiFi protocol, which has a multi-station throughput of at least 1 Gbps and single-link throughput of at least 500 Mbps? If that’s the case, consider yourself lucky because you should be able to utilize your internet connection to its maximum capacity even over WiFi.