The Wrap Special – Fixing WiFi at home

WiFi is one of the biggest causes for complaints, so how can you fix it? We’ll try to help in just five minutes as we talk speed, mesh, and more.

Transcript

WiFi. It’s one of the biggest reasons for people to complain, and it seems like it just never works, but we can’t really live without it.

On this special edition of The Wrap, we’ll try to fix WiFi woes in just five minutes.

It’s a pretty safe assumption that you have WiFi at home, and depending on how many people live there, you may have more devices craving wireless connections.

Phones, TVs, computers, game consoles, and you can even get fridges and washing machines with WiFi, as well as heaters, air conditioners, and lightbulbs.

WiFi is everywhere, but it’s rarely great, and the more devices you have, the more your WiFi is likely to struggle.

Generally, these problems can be traced back to the wireless router, the device that controls who and what gets the wireless connection you’re sending out. Remember that everyone’s home is different. We all have different needs, and so there’s not one “right” solution for every WiFi network.

But many are probably using the router that came with their internet connection, and that’s a bit of a problem.

Graeme Reardon, D-Link: The WiFi routers we generally get from the service providers out there are okay, I’d probably classify them more as starter devices or entry level devices.

That’s D-Link’s Graeme Reardon, who says that the routers you get with a connection aren’t really meant for performance, and offer just enough to get started with.

Graeme Reardon, D-Link: You know, they’re really just designed to get you connected, rather than really looking at obviously individual situations where you’re trying to get the best coverage as well as the best speed for the amount of devices you’ve got on your network.

As entry level devices, they may not have the power to get to the entirety of your home, which is where more powerful routers come in, something you can determine by reading the numbers on the box.

Amit Rele, Netgear: You can kind of tell the specs and how fast that router is by the AC or AX number.

That’s Netgear’s Amit Rele, who said an AC or AX number basically gives away the performance and speed.

Amit Rele, Netgear: Generally speaking, you know that AC 3000 system is going to be significantly faster than the AC 1200 system. Generally speaking, the bigger the number there, the faster the system, and therefore can handle more devices and faster speeds.

So AC5400 is more powerful than AC3000, but the new AX technology is faster again.

And then there’s mesh, which works a little differently, as Linksys’ Melanie Kennedy explains.

Melanie Kennedy, Linksys: Mesh technology allows you to have the whole home covered. It ensures that your Wi Fi strength and speed stays at the maximum level. And even if you’re a distance away from your router or have thick brick walls dry your home, your speed is not going to degrade over time.

Let’s say you live in a home that’s not so much a square, but a long place. In the smaller square home, a good wireless router makes sense, but the longer home needs a wider range, and that’s where mesh comes in, as Netgear’s Amit Rele explains.

Amit Rele, Netgear: It’s really you know, if you’ve got a need for a fast Wi Fi everywhere in your house, perhaps you have a backyard. Perhaps you’re the service provider installed your your dropped off your line or installed your router somewhere in the side of your house in your office or your study or your smart TVs completely on the other side of your house or sometimes getting buffering. That’s when the collective power of all the different mesh Wi Fi systems will get you really fast speeds everywhere in your house.

Mesh networks come with the added bonus of being very expandable, but generally force you to buy another mesh point from the same company. So if you buy a D-Link mesh, you buy a D-Link point, or a Netgear one, you buy one form Netgear, and so on.

However EasyMesh looks set to change that, and it’s something we’re beginning to see in Australia, with Telstra launching it locally.

Michele Garra, Telstra: Everyone had a different way of implementing technology, and many of them were closed systems. And that was really limiting the innovation and experiences that we were able to provide to our customers.

Telstra’s Michele Garra told Pickr its use of EasyMesh meant it could improve WiFi using a standard Australians could rely on.

Michele Garra, Telstra: Australians live in larger homes by comparison to say the UK. Our homes are built with stronger materials, and we have a really high demand for entertainment. And they’re all factors that impact the WiFi solution for your home.

And while much of this may come as a suggestion to fix your WiFi by replacing it, the reality is you just might need a few tips.

Amit Rele, Netgear: Put your router somewhere in the centre of your house. So you get coverage in all the different directions.

Graeme Reardon, D-Link: If you buy a new WiFi router, really think well what am I going to need in two or three years time if it keeps accelerating that way and I keep adding devices to my network.

Melanie Kennedy, Linksys: We always recommend that people go for the best speed and multiple user capabilities, otherwise known as MU-MIMO.

Amit Rele, Netgear: Also avoid large metal objects, keep it away from your refrigerator for example. That’s a really the refrigerators do really bad things to to Wi Fi just because
you know it can’t get through metal. You get what you pay for and and you know the trick there is to figure out how much you’re willing to pay for good WiFi.

In the end, you should take a look at your device situation. Start thinking long term, and you might just find an update and upgrade is where you need to be to get better WiFi in your life.

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