The allure of fast WiFi is one of the selling points of wireless networks. One can very quickly get addicted to the effortless manner in which you can access the Internet to listen to music, stream video or engage in online gaming.
We expect our WiFi to work all the time, just like turning on the lights. When it doesn’t work the way it should it can be challenging to figure out the reason for the degraded performance and the only thing on your mind is how to make WiFi faster.
After enjoying years of trouble-free WiFi I began to have issues with the system in late December. First a little background on the system. I do not live in a huge house and there are not many devices that are connected at one time. We do use the Internet to stream YouTube TV as well as our other online activities. For the most part, there are only two people using WiFi. We might have four connections going simultaneously if we are both watching TV and on a computer or iPad at the same time.
All was fine until late one Sunday afternoon in December. I am a bit of a sports fan and was watching an NFL game when I was assaulted by the spinning circle in the middle of the YouTube TV picture. This indicates that the app is trying to connect to the Internet, or is experiencing such slow performance that it cannot keep up with the video stream. This would occur sporadically throughout the game, rendering it almost unwatchable.
Since we had not faced any issues like this previously, I was at a loss as to what to do to resolve the problem. I definitely wanted to see the end of the game and tried rebooting the router several times, to no avail. I even considered digging up an old Ethernet cable and plugging it into the back of my cable modem but then that’s not WiFi anymore. Oh, and my iPad doesn’t have an Ethernet port. Does yours? Exactly.
So I was forced to actually take the time to track down the culprit in the hope of returning the capability to enjoy my WiFI connected devices to its previous lofty state. I have a feeling that I am not alone in facing this dilemma and that others are afflicted with the scourge of slow WiFi in their home or office.
Therefore, in an attempt to pass on some hard-earned knowledge I am going to describe the steps I took to resolve my issue. I’m going to talk about how to make WiFi faster and we will discuss a number of possible remedies that you can try without spending a dime.
These are the no-cost methods that I used to try to improve my Internet speed.
The first thing I chose to do was to test my Internet connection. The question was how fast is my WiFi. Was I expecting too much of my in-home equipment when the problem was a slow connection to my ISP? There are many speed test tools out there, and I chose one and tested my connection.
The results showed that my download speed was well over 45Mbps which should be more than enough for the way we use it. I also tried testing during an occurrence of the connectivity issue, but could not connect to the Internet at all at that time. So when it was up, the speed of the connection was fine. On to the next step.
The way my house is laid out made the northwest corner of the house the logical place for the router. This is where the cable from the ISP enters the house and minimizes the amount of internal cabling required. At this time I was using an Arris modem/router combo that had been provided by the cable company when they installed the Internet connection in the house.
In an attempt to eliminate any obstructions or interference resulting from the router’s location, I spent an afternoon experimenting with various other, more centrally located places to house the router. Following best practices, I kept it away from physical objects and tried to minimize the exposure to other devices such as my microwave that might be causing interference. No luck, as the sporadic WiFi degradation continued.
Next, I went out to the router’s administration panel and updated the firmware. While I was there I also set it to update automatically so I would not have to think about this again. There was no noticeable difference in WiFi performance after updating the firmware.
I wanted to see if I was being impacted by neighboring WiFi installations, so used the NetSpot WiFi analyzer to discover other nearby networks. There were other networks detected, and they all were using channel 1 or 11 in the 2.4GHz frequency. I did not see other 5GHz networks that might be affecting my router.
Thinking I had finally found the reason for the problem, I updated the router to use channel 6 for the 2.4 GHz frequency in my home. No other network was using this channel, so if that was the bottleneck it should now be resolved. Unfortunately, the issue persisted. I was out of ideas and had to take it to the next level.
After striking out with my own attempts at fixing my WiFi connection I resorted to contacting the cable company and having a tech sent to my home. He took one look at the Arris equipment, shook his head, and said they did not support that old device any longer. He did hook up to some testing equipment and ran the router through its paces. The verdict was that the device was on its last legs and was the most likely reason for my WiFi issues.
We ended up purchasing a Netgear cable modem and a Linksys router to replace the antiquated and malfunctioning Arris modem/router. After configuring the equipment and changing the default passwords we fired up the WiFi and have not had any issues since the new router and modem were installed.
As you can see, pinpointing the issue that is degrading your WiFi speed can be a challenge. I would suggest that if you are faced with this problem, you follow the steps discussed above to try and resolve the issue. In most cases, you will see an improvement by changing channels or moving your router.
Unfortunately, not all WiFi issues can be resolved at no cost. When faced with the prospect of continued sporadic Internet problems or spending a few dollars, the choice was easy. We are back to enjoying our WiFi without interruptions. Isn’t that what we all really want?