What’s new in mesh Wi-Fi?

The latest crop of mesh Wi-Fi products are helping a lot of people get better Wi-Fi coverage in their homes. We’re fans of using mesh Wi-Fi when you don’t have or it doesn’t make sense to run network wiring for a wired network. The new generation of mesh Wi-Fi makes it even more compelling with better stability and coverage.

Mesh Wi-Fi networks

Mesh networks are made of nodes that talk to each other to create a network. Here the mesh networks use Wi-Fi itself to bounce Wi-Fi to parts of your home. Since your Wi-Fi router is often stuck in the basement or on one side of your home, the far reaches of your place may live in the darkness of no Wi-Fi. With these nodes, you can place them where the signal is still strong enough, and it will extend it further out. You can keep installing nodes until you have the coverage you want. Consumer mesh Wi-Fi devices have apps that help you figure out if the placement is good, or if you need to find another spot.

The next generation

The last generation of mesh Wi-Fi was pretty good, and the latest generation is getting better. Their speed, stability and coverage has improved. Google has its new version, Nest Wifi, and we’ve had great success helping people with eero Pro extenders. They use three bands of Wi-Fi to help spread Wi-Fi goodness in your home. They also offer automatic software updates and network control (perhaps, for example, you’d like to pause or limit Wi-Fi for your children).

So much that we do in our homes from working to media streaming to smart home automation requires good Wi-Fi. Without good Wi-Fi, often everything becomes an effort in frustration. Mesh Wi-Fi can make the whole experience so much better – perhaps its even a great holiday gift idea!

 

What is Wi-Fi 6?

 

We need Wi-Fi in our homes, but the Wi-Fi people haven’t been very good at making it easy for us to understand Wi-Fi versions. Most people aren’t sure what the letters mean; is 802.11ac better than 802.11n? Now they’re trying to make it a bit more easy to understand.

802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wave 2 – really, its not just random letters

The fundamental issue is that the non-profit Wi-Fi Alliance has been using the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 802.11 working group naming. While we really appreciate the Engineers work on the technology, their naming conventions are a bit hard to follow.

The Wi-Fi Alliance has finally figured this out. While we may have gotten used to names like 802.11n and 802.11ac, they decided a straight forward numbering system would be easier for non-technical people to understand. So, they have used simplified to generational names moving forward. 802.11n is called Wi-Fi 4 and 802.11ac is Wi-Fi 5. The next Wi-Fi standard, 802.11ax, is christened Wi-Fi 6. It will take a while for this to catch on, but it certainly makes it easier to understand that Wi-Fi 6 is newer and better than Wi-Fi 4. Maybe in the future, the average consumer won’t even know or need to know what the IEEE name is for a future variant of Wi-Fi.

SU-MIMO vs. MU-MIMO, what the heck are those?

While we’re waiting for the new naming to stick, the fine Wi-Fi folk have a second wave of 802.11ac (or Wi-Fi 5) coming out. 802.11ac Wave 2 has a theoretical speed of 2.34 Gbps. Of course theoretical speeds, are just theoretical, but your could be looking at about 1 Gbps when you’re in decent Wi-Fi range. In general, this means that 802.11ac Wave 2 will give you about double your network speed of Wave 1.

There’s also some fancy technology updates like improved channel use, but the other big Wi-Fi deal is MU-MIMO. MIMO, or multiple-input and multiple-output, uses multiple antennas on both side to get more out of a wireless link. Here the wireless link is a Wi-Fi connection. The MU part stands for Multi-User. Older Wi-Fi was a round-robin waiting game. You hand to wait your turn to ‘talk’ to the Wi-Fi router (ie Single-User). Of course this goes super fast, so it seems like you’re always getting a Wi-Fi turn. MU-MIMO allows for multiple users to talk at the same time – four at a time for 802.11ac Wave 2. This will be noticeable faster.

A few things about Wi-Fi 6

As you would guess, Wi-Fi 6 will be even better and faster. Its theoretical top speed is 9.6 Gbps, so even real world speeds should be impressive. It also ups the ante by being able to connect with up to eight users at a time. They’ve also worked to make Wi-Fi 6 better for low power devices like small smart home sensors, so their batteries should last longer. Wi-Fi 6 also bulks up the security to use WPA3, the next generation of Wi-Fi security.

Hopefully we’ll start seeing the terms Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6 being used more often. While it will take a year or so until Wi-Fi 6 devices are readily available, it will help us keep track of what we should be looking for vs trying to remember that 802.11ax is better than 802.11ac!

Home tech pro observations

A home tech pro is like other professionals – we notice certain issues (with technology) that others might not see. Like a mechanic that hears that your car isn’t right, or a physiotherapist that notices poor posture, or a singer that hears off notes when it sounds good to the rest of us. We’re often pulled into new homes that we were not involved with where things were missed because home tech was an afterthought. Here are some of our observations from the field.  

Exposed wires and tech

We’re surprised when we see easy (and inexpensive) details missed in new builds. You should use recessed wiring boxes for wall mounted TVs locations. Recessed boxes allow mounting TVs closer to the wall to help minimize impact on room aesthetics.

Exposed TV wiring is another issue. If a TV is to be over a fireplace, there should be a conduit (pipe for wires) in the wall to hide the wires. Most home owners or designers have decided where a TV is going to go, so make it ready to hide the wiring.

The other piece of the puzzle is where to put the cable box, Apple TV, Blu-ray player, etc. These can sometimes be hidden behind the TV, but otherwise plan out where to put these boxes. If you’re not sure, talk to a home tech pro. It will make a big difference in the look and feel of your home.

Table of remotes

If your system is just a cable box and a TV, then you’ll likely be OK with just the cable box remote to use them. The issue is that every time you add a piece of gear, e.g. an media steamer like an Apple TV, all of a sudden you’re juggling multiple remotes depending on what device you’re watching. Often it’s only one or two people in the house that actually know which remote controls what device.

Not everyone has the desire or budget to spend their money on audio/visual equipment. For those who do, budget in for a universal remote control. There is no point in spending lots of money on an amazing system if its hard to use. Depending on your needs, a universal remote can start under $100. A proper remote should be part of the mix and budget if your system involves more than two or three devices. You can talk with a home tech pro for assistance for more complicated systems.

Proper networking wiring

People expect Wi-Fi to work everywhere in their home. Unless the home is small or you’re lucky, this can’t happen with just the Internet Service Providers Wi-Fi router. You need to use separate access points to make Wi-Fi grace every corner of a home (and outside!). Although we’re advocates of using Ethernet wiring everywhere you can, you must at least have in-wall wiring for Wi-Fi access points as needed.

We were recently called in to a new home where there were no in-wall Ethernet wires installed for anything, Wi-Fi or otherwise. This was unfortunate as we had use expensive adapters to allow Internet over TV coax cables for Wi-Fi Access Points. The Wi-Fi coverage is much better now, but not ideal due to coax cable location limitations. Now everything has to use Wi-Fi. TVs, computers, printers, etc, can’t be wired and are slowing down Wi-Fi only devices like smartphones. Take a look at your living space, and make sure there are network wires for things like TVs, computers and Wi-Fi access points.

Video/sound quality 

It may sound snobby, but we really notice when things look or sound off. You don’t have to spend massive amounts of money for decent equipment. Yes, high end stuff can be expensive, but riding the value curve gives impressive results with a reasonable price tag. People may try to ‘save’ money by installing less quality gear like ceiling speakers. Some may not immediately notice that their system sounds bad, but they use it less and less as its fatiguing. Often when they walk into someone else’s home, they’re wowed and wonder why it sounds better. Balance your budget for all components – a cheap TV or cheap set of speakers will limit the performance of the rest of your equipment. 

Make sure these kind of issues are addressed when you’re building or renovating. If you feel its out of your comfort zone, then reach out to a home tech pro to get some help.

Top five simple home technology upgrades

We often get asked about what smart home technology upgrades are possible without major or costly renovations. Thankfully there is much that home owners and renters can do that doesn’t involve costly or messy construction work. Here is an overview of simple-to-implement home tech that our clients are most interested in.

Smart TVs

Many of our clients last upgraded their TVs when the original flat TVs dropped in price and these TVs are getting to the point that they need to be replaced. The timing works out as the next generation TVs, 4K TVs, are great value. They also come with smart features for watching streaming services like Netflix or showing pictures from your smartphone. While our clients are updating their TVs, they want the wiring and remotes cleaned up and simplified. We help them update and organize their digital audio/video worlds by determining which smart TV features work for them and provide programmed universal remotes to make it all easy to use.

Wireless and streaming music

Our clients are often curious about wireless speakers or have gotten the wireless speaker bug and want help expanding on it. Wireless speakers like Sonos and Bluesound, and streaming music services like Spotify and Deezer have revolutionized the way we listen to music. These great sounding speakers require a Wi-Fi network and power. You can also use them to augment that new 4K TV for updated sound for TV shows and movies.

Smart lighting

There is a lot of interest in updating light switches to smart dimmers and switches. Companies like Lutron and Leviton have very functional dimmers and switches at reasonable prices. They are also inter-compatible with other home technology upgrades such as wireless speakers and thermostats. While most devices replace your current light switches, there are also plug models that allow you to smarten up lights like floor lamps without any re-wiring required. From then on, you can control your rights from your smart phone or on smart timers when you’re away. These are not only convenient for everyone with features like lights that come on when you near your home, but may also be and asset for seniors and disabled people to simplify lighting control for them.

Automated shading

Automated shading is also growing in popularity. There are reliable battery powered options, so you don’t have to have your windows wired for power. People want these shades for privacy, light blocking and energy savings. Sometimes clients want convenient shades that open and close timed with sunrise and sunset. Maybe its to keep a bedroom dark when enjoying a sleep in. Sometimes it helps block out the afternoon sun before it heats their home like an oven. Whatever the reason, they can have great looking shades that are smart and easy to use. Plus, you will never have to worry about operating them in difficult to reach places like high windows.

Better Wi-Fi

It seems that everything in our lives these days requires Wi-Fi. When your building or renovating, you can make sure all the right wires get put into your walls to help create the perfect Wi-Fi system. For older homes or condos, you sometimes have to look for another way. As mentioned in the past, mesh Wi-Fi products provide a decent Wi-Fi system to use in these tricky situations.

There are many simple home technology upgrades available for those who want to smarten up their homes but are not building a new home or doing an involved home renovation. We’re always happy to help them, and its rewarding when we get to see their faces light up like kids on Christmas morning when they first use their new upgrades.

Home Tech 101: What to look for in a router

home tech router networkWe’ve talked a lot about proper networking equipment for home tech lately, and its important to understand the equipment that goes into a network. Most people will know a ‘router’ as a Wi-Fi router as this is what most people have – either from a big box store or a ‘gateway’ (Wi-Fi router & modem) from their Internet Provider. A router is arguably the most significant piece of technology in your home, as all home tech activities from surfing the web to streaming media to home automation need a router to work. While all routers route home and Internet data (see below), amongst the long list of features, there are other ones like VLANs and remote management to look out for.

Routing & firewall: Although routing is what a router does, its worth reviewing what that actually is. A router is a device that connects data between two computer networks – in this case, your home’s network and the Internet. You need a router to do this because originally there wasn’t enough computer addresses available in the world to allow your home computers and devices to have their own unique addresses. Instead your home network uses a subset of addresses that can be re-used in all homes and businesses – their routers also translate the address between their networks and the Internet. Computer IP addresses are similar to home addresses – just a way for computers to know where data needs to go. (The world is now starting to use IPv6 that has lots of addresses, but that’s another story.) A Router can also implement a “firewall” that offers a level of security to help shelter your home’s devices from the big, bad Internet. Security features can include Stateful Packet Inspection (SPI), Denial of Service (DoS) prevention, WAN Request Blocking (blocks ping requests), and content filtering (e.g. block adult content).

Performance: We have nothing against consumer grade Wi-Fi routers for the right home application – its just that they’re often the wrong tool for the job. People demand so much from their network and often they’re not aware that they’re asking a lot from basic equipment that was never designed for heavy usage. Often basic equipment fails families even when they think they “aren’t really doing much techy stuff” at home. Proper equipment helps ensure that all of your home tech can do what you need it to do from Instagram to HD Netflix streaming. More and more people can benefit from commercial grade networking equipment that is built to handle the load that they need. A good router can also prioritize certain data and/or balance data needs within your allotted access to the Internet. While great Wi-Fi capability is extremely important, it doesn’t necessarily need to be built into a router. Often a router is stuffed away somewhere that doesn’t make sense for Wi-Fi coverage. In those cases, we look at putting Wi-Fi Access Points in central locations to provide the needed Wi-Fi coverage.

VLANs: A LAN, or Local Area Network, is the local computer network in your home. In a home network, a significant amount of data is broadcasted to all devices regardless if they want it or not. A VLAN, or Virtual Local Area Network, allows the network data to be tagged with an ID that separates it from other data. You can use VLANs to separate data even its on the same physical network – those broadcasts can be separated to only the devices that need them. For example, you can tag all of your entertainment devices for the same VLAN so they think they’re on their own network and not compete as much with other devices such as surveillance cameras. You can expand this with VLAN compatible IP switches to make a powerful and flexible network.

Dual WAN: For those who want to ensure their Internet is dual WAN portsalways on, you can use the dual WAN (Wide Area Network, i.e. the Internet in this case) to connect the network to two different Internet Service Providers and/or configure your WAN connections to load-balance and link failover.

Remote Management: Since we help people with home tech, remote management is a big benefit for both our clients and us. In the event something goes awry with a router, we can remotely check on the router, modify configurations, and restart it without having to set up an on-site appointment, etc. Very handy!

A router is the centre piece of the home network, so its important to use one that fits your particular needs. Regardless if you’re building or renovating, or if you’re looking for a stable network in an existing home, a bit of focus on the networking foundation of your home will pay dividends.

How to build a great home Wi-Fi network

Wi-Fi Access Point

Home Wi-Fi networks can’t be ignored. Not that long ago, you could go down to the local electronics big box store, buy a $99 Wi-Fi router, connect your laptop to the Internet, and call it done. These days most homes have a growing number of devices, and Wi-Fi networks are stretched extremely thin. You can apply the basics about how to get better Wi-Fi to help coverage, but if you’re building or renovating, you need to step it up to ensure your home will be fully functional now and the future. Let’s take a closer look at planning the wireless part of your home network.

You may think that there aren’t many Wi-Fi devices in your home, but sad wifiyou’ll likely be surprised if you count up your smartphones, tablets, laptops, Apple TVs, smart TVs, etc. It gets more complicated as people add devices like surveillance cameras, smart locks, smart thermostats and smart lighting. Pile on the fact that today’s devices are increasingly data hungry with the likes of HD video, and you’ll quickly understand why basic wi-fi routers and Internet Provider supplied gateways just aren’t built to take that kind of abuse.

Poor Wi-Fi coverage is the first thing that most of us notice with our smart TV Ethernethome networks. Perhaps its a bedroom where the Wi-Fi barely works or a TV room where the Apple TV takes what seems like forever to play Netflix. The first step is to plan to use wired connections wherever you can. For example, media players and smart TVs usually have an Ethernet port, so build in Ethernet wiring into your home to connect to anything that has an Ethernet (or LAN port) available.

The second step is to build your home to allow for additional Wi-Fi access points. Access points, like the Araknis Networks’ 100-series Access Point, are similar to Wi-Fi routers, but just have the Wi-Fi part. This will allow you to add ‘hot spots’ to expand your Wi-Fi coverage into dead spots. These can be tucked out of sight, such as in a closet, or discreetly on a ceiling. This way you don’t have to worry if your Wi-Fi router in the basement will reach to the top floor or if your home’s construction materials are blocking Wi-Fi signals.

The third step is to invest in good quality networking gear. A cheap Wi-Fi router from a big box store will give you a cheap experience – poor coverage and clogged data. If you have basic needs (one or two devices, no streaming media) and low expectations (don’t mind waiting), then a cheaper solution may work for you. Chances are though, that you’ll need several devices, including a Wi-Fi router, access points, etc. Invest in Wi-Fi networking gear that will provide good coverage and reliability. Better manufactures also provide high-end or business grade Wi-Fi wireless controllers that include allowing your devices to roam properly in your home. For example, this will connect your smartphone to a stronger access point when you move around in your home, instead of it holding on to a signal as you move too far away from it. Not only is higher-end equipment made to work well together, you can expect it to handle higher data and device loads. The right equipment will pay dividends in the future.

You need to put a reasonable amount of planning and investment into your Wi-Fi networking design. In the future, we will look deeper into best practices for the wired part of your home network as well. This will propel your home network into a stable and enjoyable backbone for your entertainment, smart home and work devices. So go ahead, and turn that Wi-Fi frown upside down!

Know your Wi-Fi

Asus's premium router: RT-AC68U

Wi-Fi routers are how most of our devices connect to the Internet and home networks, but unfortunately they are often marketed with jargon and tech specs. The current top Wi-Fi standard is 802.11ac, but that doesn’t tell us much. Although Wi-Fi routers have many features and important settings like security (hint: use WPA2), two key attributes are data rates (speed) and frequency.

So what should you know about data rates? The table below shows different Wi-Fi standards and advertised max data rates. Keep in mind that these data rates are best case and your experience will vary – you’ll be lucky to get half of the advertised rate. As mentioned in How to get better Wi-Fi, there are lots of reasons your data rate will be less. Most of us just care that we’re connected with enough speed for what we’re doing. To give a baseline without really needing to know what ‘bits per second’ is, an average music file is about 128 kbps (128,000 bits per second) and Netflix video is about 5 Mbps (5,000,000 bits per second). If you’re reading email, a slower date rate is likely fine. If you’re watching a movie on Netflix, you’ll be looking for more speed. The newer and better Wi-Fi standards usually give the higher data rates under the same home conditions. This is accomplished by using improved technology and methods, but we can leave that to the Wi-Fi equipment designers. Note that 802.11ac hasn’t been officially been passed, but with the likes of Apple selling products with it, it should be OK. The long and short of it is to try to buy and use the latest technology, but don’t worry about upgrading to the latest and greatest unless you’re having particular issues.

802.11 Data Rates

The other buzz term with Wi-Fi these days is Dual Band – 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. These refer to frequencies and not data rates. Dual Band Wi-Fi routers can operate at both the ‘old’ 2.4 GHz and ’new’ 5 GHz frequencies. If Wi-Fi frequencies were like a piano keys, 2.4 GHz would be the lower notes and 5 GHz the higher notes. 2.4 GHz is much more common and often over used. If you live in an apartment building with lots of Wi-Fi networks from your neighbours, it’s like everyone is pounding on the lower piano keys – its really hard to hear what you’re playing! In this case, using 5 GHz might help, as being the newer technology, less people are playing the ‘high notes’. This will change as more people start using 5 GHz, but it should be less crowded for quite some time. The issue with 5 GHz is that the signal doesn’t go as far. Just like a neighbour’s music’s bass pumping though the walls without high notes, the 5 GHz frequencies get absorbed easier by walls, etc. You can also be selective on which devices use which frequencies. For example if you’re stuck with using Wi-Fi for your Apple TV (vs. running a network wire), you could dedicate 5 GHz for it, and 2.4 GHz for your other devices. This should allow for better media streaming as your Apple TV doesn’t have to ‘fight’ with all your other devices for that data speed.

Beyond data rates and frequency, many manufactures beef up their devices with other features like more antennas. Although some models are over priced, often for features you may never use, you usually get what you pay for in Wi-fi routers. If you have basic networking needs and a smallish home, you may be fine with a cheaper model. If you have more intense networking needs or a large complex home layout, you may have to pony up for premium Wi-Fi routers. You should check Internet reviews on Wi-Fi routers, but remember that everyone’s needs and homes are different. If you need help navigating your home Wi-Fi coverage, feel free to reach out to us at Simpleer as well.

Wireless basics: cellular vs. home data

Cellular data vs. home dataA cellular data usage question recently came up, so it never hurts to review data usage strategies.  A new mobile phone owner was getting data overage charges from her carrier.  She had a 1GB limit, so there was surprise she had overage charges.  Her Blackberry Z10 was being a data hog, but regardless of the reasons, we should consider using Wi-Fi whenever possible on our smart phones.

Perhaps you’ve just got your fancy new smart phone, or maybe you’re a salty veteran that is ramping up mobile data usage.  There is so much content available and things like video can chew through data at an amazing rate.  Mobile carriers are starting to provide decent data limits, so you should review your plan as sometimes a new plan will give you more for the same monthly bill.

Either way, this is a reminder to use your home Wi-Fi when possible – just go into the settings on your iOS device, Android or even BlackBerry Z10 to get it on your home network.  There is also free Wi-Fi almost everywhere these days, and if you use Shaw for Internet, you can use their Shaw Go Wi-Fi service that is included with your service.  Just be aware that any Wi-Fi data, especially public Wi-Fi, could be watched by particularly nerdy criminals, but for casual Internet use you’re likely OK.  (If you’re concerned with improving Internet security, you can look into a VPN service like Private Internet Access.)

You should also be aware that home Internet data plans also have data usage caps.  These are huge relative to cellular plans, so unless you’re really into BitTorrents or other heavy data use, you should be fine for now.  For example, Shaw’s 25M plan has 250GB included.  If you’re a Telus customer, they technically have limits and its only a matter of time before they too enforce them.

With the explosion of Netflix and other video services, caps may be a problem for all of us though.  Its a good idea to understand your mobile and home data use and what your plan provides.  It takes a bit of extra work, but shopping around can save you money too.

How to choose networking wire for your home

Networking CableIts a good idea to wire your devices with Ethernet cables in your home when possible (see How to get better Wi-Fi). If you’re building or renovating, take the opportunity to install networking wires (or “cable”) into the walls. OK, but what networking cable should you install? Ethernet cables come in various standards or “Categories” (Cat for short), but there are only a few that you need to know about: Cat 5e, Cat 6 and Cat 6a.

Cat 5e: You can delve into the more technical details of Cat 5e here, but basically Cat 5e will cover up to Gigabit Ethernet (the current fastest home network speeds). It supposed to handle 10 Gigabit speeds for cable lengths of up to 45 meters, but this is under ideal circumstances, so ‘milage may vary’ greatly in your home. Cable runs are often long and are often placed near sources of electrical noise. (Yes, cables and other devices make ’electrical noise’, so ‘crosstalk‘ is an issue). In short, don’t plan on getting 10G networking from Cat 5e. Cat 5e is fairly robust when installing – mainly just don’t bend or kink it. Cat 5e cable is the minimum you should install in your home.

Cat 6: Cat 6 is the next step up. It allows up to 10 Gigabit networking for cables up to 55 meters long (37 meters when not properly separated from sources of electrical noise), so it will provide some headroom for your home tech. (Yes, someday we will need that kind of speeds – think about the next generation of high definition videos.) The trade off is higher cost (should be about 20% or less premium over Cat 5e), but the cost is coming down as corporations are moving to Cat 6. Installation is the same as Cat 5e.

Cat 6a: You might see Cat 6e, but there is no official standard for it. The next tier is Cat 6a, and it allows 10 Gigabit up to 100 meters – the length limit for networking cable. Cat 6a is not commonly used, so its quite expensive. It would be best to avoid at this time unless you know you need 10G network speeds, but that’s pretty unlikely.

Perhaps Cat 6a or even fibre optic cable will be the future, but Cat 6 is the sweet spot right now balancing cost, ease of install and future proofing. Pretty straight forward, eh? The next trick is to plan your home network for today’s and tomorrow’s entertainment, computers and home automation – let us know if you need a hand with that.

How to get better Wi-Fi

A lot of people complain that their Apple TV doesn’t work well, as they wait forever for
music or video to start.  Sometimes it’s that their tablet gets Internet in the living room, but not in the bedroom. This is often a Wi-Fi issue rather than an Apple TV, phone or tablet
problem.  Unfortunately wireless networking isn’t always straightforward.

Wi-Fi not workingYou see, at lot of us think that we just set up our Wi-Fi router somewhere and our home has a magical wireless networking blanket snuggly wrapped around it. For some lucky folks, this may be the case. For most of us though, there are a plethora of issues that can make Wi-Fi less than ideal. These issues include home size/layout, building material, router location, router and interference (microwave ovens, neighbour’s Wi-Fi, etc.).

You may not notice Wi-Fi issues with light Internet browsing or email, but try heavier use like Netflix or iTunes streaming video and you’re experience goes from OK to down right aggravating. Or perhaps some rooms are two thumbs up, but others are left in Wi-Fi wasteland.

So what can you do? Here are some things to try:

  • Wire it: As a general rule, if you can plug in an Ethernet cable, then plug one in.
    Going wireless should be a last resort. If your home is not pre-wired for networking, see if its reasonable to run a cable from your router. If you’re lucky enough to be building or renovating your home, plan out your wired networking to match your needs. Plug in an Ethernet cable whenever possible
  • Change the channel: Most if not all Wi-Fi routers allow you to change the channel being used for your Wi-Fi. You can use a Wi-Fi analyzer tool (see below) to see what the Wi-Fi looks like in your home. Then use a channel that is least used. Some routers will also let you turn up the signal power.Select a Wi-Fi channel
  • Move your Wi-Fi router: Your Wi-Fi router should be close to the centre of your home or near devices like iPads that need wireless networking. People often want to put their router out of sight, but often it’s really bad places for wireless such as in the basement or under a bed. As a general rule, metal around a router, like heating ducts, pipes, wires and box frame mattresses are death for Wi-Fi signals. Metal studs in the wall and old plaster can be bad too.Choose a good location for Wi-Fi router
  • Get a new Wi-Fi router: That $19.99 Wi-Fi router looked like such a bargain in theASUS RT-N66U flyer, but you’ll pay for it in different ways. The same goes for most Wi-Fi routers that Internet providers include with their service. A great Wi-Fi router truly makes a huge difference. Our current favourite is the ASUS RT-N66U (or ASUS RT-AC66U is you’re looking for 802.11AC). Its pricey, but its a real beast (and we mean that in a good way).
  • Try power line extenders: Power line extenders allow your to use your home’s
    D-Link_powerlineelectricity wiring for your computer network.  Older generation power line extenders were quite horrid, but the new ones like D-Link’s are pretty good with decent data flow. That said, they don’t work in all cases such as homes with multiple breaker panels or really poor power circuits. Many manufactures also provide adapters with Wi-Fi access points build in (see next point).
  • Add a Wi-Fi access point: To better cover a large or a problematic home, you can add one or more Wi-Fi access points like a Linksys or Apple Airport Express. (As a bonus, the Airport Express can be used for AirPlay music.) To be clear, we’re talking about adding an access point connected with an Ethernet cable. The devices that just rebroadcast your Wi-Fi signal are temptingly simple, but they will likely only cause you grief in the long run. (They may help get a Wi-Fi signal further, but they really are one of those interference devices mentioned above.) You can also set up an access point with the same Wi-Fi name and passcode, so your devices can simply choose the best signal.Wi-Fi Router with wired Wi-Fi Access Point

You can test out the Wi-Fi in your home using free tools like InSSIDer for Android devices. Sorry iPhone and iPad folks there isn’t a version for you, but there is for Mac and PC. If you use these apps there is no hard threshold, but if you’re seeing something around -80 or less, you’re likely having a pretty poor time with your Wi-Fi. Walk around your home and test Wi-Fi strength for different router locations.Good & bad Wi-Fi signal power

If you need help with any of this, reach out to us and we’d be happy to help plan and update your home’s networking that fits your needs and budget.