What are some common issues in WiFi today and what causes them?

Frustrated by that eternally buffering pinwheel of death while catching up on the latest episode of Mad Men? Experiencing snail-paced connections? Or dead spots in your home where you can’t get online? These are some of the most common WiFi woes.

What are the culprits? Slow network connections and buffering can be caused by low bandwidth. Bandwidth functions like lanes on a highway, allowing traffic to travel at high speeds. When too many requests are traveling through a network with low bandwidth – for example, if you’re simultaneously streaming YouTube videos, transferring large files, and streaming surveillance footage from your pool house – traffic can slow the connection to a virtual standstill. Picture the drive to Tahoe on a holiday weekend; nobody’s going anywhere fast. To eliminate data bottlenecks, you can upgrade your connection and add more bandwidth. This would be like adding extra lanes to the highway.

Another common cause of slow connections is interference. Interference can be caused by physical barriers like concrete walls or refrigerators, or invisible barriers like microwave and cordless phone signals. These signals can interfere with the path of WiFi radio waves.

If you’re experiencing interference, one simple solution to is to move closer to your router, avoiding dense walls and proximity to other objects that cause interference. However, if the enemy is your neighbor’s WiFi, you might look into getting a dual-band router that operates simultaneously at 2.4GHz and 5GHz to help you avoid congestion on the often overcrowded 2.4GHz band.

A common cause of dead zones and buffering is that we expect a single router to cover an entire home. WiFi radio waves degrade quickly with distance. To increase the range of your connection, you could try a router with stronger broadcast strength or install a range extender. If you’re feeling particularly brave, you could also hardwire your home for multiple routers.

And hey, maybe we’re a little biased, but you could also look into a mesh network like eero to solve your WiFi woes.

 

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