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How to Improve Your Wi-Fi Range

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Wi-Fi, the all-encompassing invisible internet giver. A lifesaver when it’s working but a damn straight annoyance when you lose signal. In the world of Wi-Fi, the range between your device and router can be the difference in quality, speed and even connection. So how do you go about improving the range of your Wi-Fi?

This week our Tech Experts at TP-Link are going to take us through the options for improving your Wi-Fi range and what to look out for on the market.

 

Get the best out of your Wi-Fiimprove wifi router

A smart TV isn’t smart if it’s constantly buffering, gaming online is no fun if you keep losing the signal and a tablet without Wi-Fi is little more than a paperweight.

To get the best out of your devices you need a solid network foundation. So if you want to sit back and enjoy smooth HD streaming, glitch free gaming and instant online chat here is the ultimate Wi-Fi boosting solutions for you. Whether you need to increase the speed of your home network, wipe-out wireless dead zones, improve network security or simply connect wireless speakers, we have the right solution for you.

 

For networking beginners, start with simple to set-up and easy to manage solutions like wireless USB adapters, wireless range extenders and powerline adapters. These devices will rapidly improve connection speeds between your wireless router, PC, laptop, smart TV, Xbox, PlayStation, Apple TV or blu-ray player.  Ideal for networking novices, these devices are simple plug and play solutions.  No configuration is required.

PowerlineWhat is powerline

We love Wi-Fi and always want to be online. However, most homes have Wi-Fi dead spots which means there are areas where wireless just won’t reach or there is a poor signal resulting in slow downloads and buffering. One option is to run Ethernet cables through the house connecting the router and your wired only devices.

A powerline network overcomes these problems. By connecting a powerline adapter to your router, and plugging the second powerline adapter close to your device, you can connect via Ethernet or, depending on your powerline’s features, via wireless.

Powerlines, also known as ‘homeplug’, ‘powerline adapter’ or ‘powerline extender’, are more versatile than Ethernet cables, easy to install and simple to use. Powerline is the secure, fast way to extend your home network. Using your home’s existing electrical circuit, powerlines connect your devices directly to your router via electrical sockets.

Whilst standard powerlines provide a wired only connection, wireless powerlines allowing multiple wireless devices to benefit from a stronger wireless signal provided by the original router. You can also benefit from seamlessly roaming because some of the wireless powerlines automatically copy the wireless network name (SSID) and router password.

 

Range Extenderimprove wifi range extender 2Boost the range and strength of your Wi-Fi network to banish wireless black spots.  A range extender or wireless booster, when placed within range of your wireless router, amplifies the strength and range of your wireless network.  This simple device can be used to provide wireless coverage to that hard to reach bedroom, office or even the garden for uninterrupted browsing and smooth streaming.

Before running through the simple set-up, it’s important to find the best location for your extender. You need to put it halfway between the router and your wireless dead-zone. Because a range extender rebroadcasts the router’s original wireless signal, it needs to be positioned within the wireless range. Some of range extenders have lights that help you find the ideal location for the maximum wireless boost possible.

A range extender works with any router and ISP connection to improve your wireless coverage. It will extend the wireless signal to the furthest reaches of your home, home office or garden providing a reliable, high speed wireless signal so you can stay connected everywhere.

 

Wireless USB Adapterimprove wifi usb wireless

Turn ‘wired’ into ‘wireless’ with wireless USB adapters.

Use a wireless USB adapter to improve and upgrade the wireless connection to your Windows PC, laptop or netbook.  Simple to use, secure, flexible and portable, a network adapter slots into any USB port to provide a stable wireless Internet connection.

When you need extra speed, management or security options, consider upgrading your router.  A concurrent dual band* router will speed up your overall network to improve the wireless signal strength and stability for your bandwidth hungry applications like FaceTime, Skype, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video as well as your favourite online video games like League of Legends, Call of Duty or team games like Minecraft.

 

Routers

Choose the right type-

Upgrading your router can increase the overall speed of your network plus, provide additional security and management features to prevent bandwidth hogging, slow downloads and interrupted movie streaming.  Before choosing a new wireless router it’s important to select the right type.  DSL routers will work with Phone Line ISP’s like BT, TalkTalk or AOL broadband.  If you have a contract with BT Infinity or Virgin Media you need a cable router.

 

Choose the right standard-

The first generation of wireless routers was ‘802.11b’, followed by ‘802.11g’ then ‘802.11n’, and now ‘802.11ac’, also known as ‘AC’- the next Wi-Fi generation. The primary difference among the router standards is speed and range. AC Wi-Fi offers data transfer speeds 3 times faster than wireless ‘n’, delivering seamless performance for super-high speed, home wide coverage while minimizing the risk of interference.

If your router pre-dates wireless ‘n’, you should seriously consider upgrading.

 

Dual band or tri-band?

When Wi-Fi first became a standard fixture in homes and business around the world, it transmitted and received data on a single 2.4GHz band. This connection was relatively slow, but was compatible with almost all wireless devices and could provide satisfactory coverage and range. Eventually, the era of dual band Wi-Fi arrived, with its addition of a 5GHz band. The newly added band provided the speeds that are necessary to support for all of our favourite bandwidth-intensive online activities, such as streaming video and online gaming. Now, tri-band Wi-Fi is poised to become the new solution and enhance the speed and reliability of our connections by creating an additional connection on the 5GHz band.

The 2.4GHz band is used by a lot of other wireless devices such as digital phones and microwave ovens. Because there are more devices competing for space in this band, it results in interference and congestion which may affect how well the router performs both in speed and consistency. The 5GHz band provides better performance because there is less interference.

When you consider a dual band or tri-band router you need to make sure your wireless devices such as mobile phones, tablets and computer are compatible with 5GHz band. It is an end-to-end operation so both ends should be able to send and receive data over 5GHz frequency band.

 

*Please note, you will need a dual band USB adapter if your devices are not dual band enabled.

 

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Danny Young

Features Editor

16 comments

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  1. Stephen Herbert 18 March, 2016 at 11:01

    Loved the no nonsense acticle, even though I am a tech. Think the information is good but may product examples would be a good addition, although I realise recommendations maybe are not possible

  2. Gary 18 March, 2016 at 21:16

    To echo Stephen I love the fact that you have kept it KISS but it would have helped if you mentioned during a few modern day products. I’ve been in “the industry” since it was born but still miss new technologies and ideas every now and then.
    I about to retire from the IT industry and buy a guesthouse so am definitely on the market for adding WiFi to 3-4 floors so this is particularly relevant.

  3. Sheefag 1 April, 2016 at 09:29

    The big one that everybody always forgets is good old fashioned RF interference.
    Download a free app like WiFi Analyzer, check out the radio channel that neighbours are using and choose an empty one instead.

  4. Glen 1 April, 2016 at 09:45

    Lovely article, and in a language easily understood.

    One of the drawbacks we experience here with ‘powerline’ technology is that in Spain the live wire is not always live, and often to get them to work we need to either rewire the plug socket or if it is an EU plug, turn it upside down! Do miss 3 pin plugs, but the challenge of getting technology to work here is great!

    With stone walls up to a metre thick, we opt for wired extenders, 2nd routers and in some cases, huge rooftop antennae to spread Wifi to every corner.

    Bring on LiFi – it ‘should’ make light work of the challenge!

  5. Robert 1 April, 2016 at 09:47

    If you have a contract with BT Infinity or Virgin Media you need a cable router.

    Incorrect as far as BT Infinity is concerned (and the other resellers such as Plusnet). These service comes with a BT Openworld VDSL router which is fed from a standard BT socket.

  6. Anonymous 1 April, 2016 at 10:48

    Good initiative to publish this. Noone can afford to drift through the WiFi minefield without knowing the basics. Thank you.

  7. Ari 1 April, 2016 at 11:14

    I have been using Powerline adapters for a few years now but I find that internet speeds are restricted quite a bit, e.g. I know that I have 100Mbit+ speed through Virgin cable (I can see those speeds by measuring wirelessly using my phone or tablet) but I only get 40-50Mbit on my iMac connected through Powerline.
    I have different Powerline adapters (Netgear, Zyxel, TP-Link and D-Link) and the experience is the same. Could the limitation be on the house wiring itself?
    Another issue I face is speeds going further down when my son is playing online on his xbox. The ‘quality of network’ lights across all of the Powerline adapters turns red in such occasions.
    Is it worth installing RJ-45 wiring around the house, would things improve?

  8. Anonymous 29 April, 2016 at 09:41

    Another challenge I and many others are starting to hit is a limit to the number of attached devices determined by many routers out there. I often find devices on the network stop working for this reason. My Sky router caps this at 16 devices and while this sounds a lot it can quickly be reached when you consider that every person in a home may have a phone and a tablet; add to this Smart TVs; Sky boxes; wireless printers; PCs and laptops; games consoles; music players like Sonos. That’s even before you start adding smart devices, like wifi plugs and wifi lights.

  9. Anonymous 29 April, 2016 at 11:22

    KISS – well the ISS part stands for ignorant, stupid and selfish. Poorly designed powerline adapters fill the ‘airwaves’ with so much interference that large parts of the HAM and shortwave frequencies become unusable. Yes the government know about it, no nothing will be done because it is too difficult, competing incompatible technologies, Chinese made, can’t ban them, blah blah. Still, if I built an extension or something else that blocked your satellite dish line-of-sight, you would scream your righteous indignation.

  10. Anonymous 30 April, 2016 at 00:48

    Best thing you can do for your wifi is ditch that isp supplied router and buy a proper one, yes all of you out there with those god awful BT homehubs, get rid of them.

  11. DavidW 6 May, 2016 at 09:41

    Thanks for the good article but there are a couple of points I should like to add

    In the UK DECT cordless phones do not interfere with 2.4GHz Wi-Fi as they use 1.8GHz. USA phones can use 2.4 and should be avoided.

    Wi-Fi repeaters always reduce connection speed by at least 50% since they can only transmit or receive at the same time. When positioned away from the primary router the speed will already be less than maximum. So speeds in the dead spot can never be as good as using additional wired Access Points

    Finally for use with VDSL modems a cable router is indeed required as they connect together via Erhernet. (Cable routers are so called because they can connect to cable TV boxes in the USA)

  12. Kev Ellis 6 May, 2016 at 10:38

    This article is largely useless because it completely fails to discuss the pro and cons of each of these technologies.
    Truth be told there is no way to increase WIFI range that doesn’t cause other issues.

  13. Kevin N, 6 May, 2016 at 22:31

    I have tried quite a few different extenders and adapters and have found then to be a complete waste of time and money. I live in an average 3 bedroom house , so no mansion but have never been happy with any of the gadgets, even using BT adapters and extenders don’t work well with my BT router, have wasted hundreds of pounds chasing so called fixes for speed, lagging and slow downloading. Have now disconnected them all and use Ethernet cables for smart TV and desktop PC and wifi on tablet and smartphone, even them still get pixelation on TV screen sometimes . My advice is don’t bother your just chasing a dream , until we get a better service from the companies that supply our internet connections and routers that say the honest truth about speeds and strengths of signals.

  14. Anonymous 17 August, 2016 at 20:29

    our house walls block wifi signals virtually soon as you go to next room it drops 40%

    Buy a new house with paper thin plasterboard walls. lol

  15. Emma Savory 8 November, 2016 at 13:47

    Thanks for the advice! I have recently been having loads of problems with my WiFi and have tried loads of different solutions, many which involve buying new modems and adapters and none have seemed to work so far, wish i had come across this article sooner. However, one thing i have tried which has worked has been about how to change the channel of the wifi to improve speeds- http://www.lucidica.com/help/how-to-improve-your-wifi/. I changed my router to channel 6 now and it already seems to be running faster than before so hopefully it will help your readers also! Definitely going to keep in mind these tips when i buy new equipment

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