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How to boost your Wi-Fi signal to get the most out of your internet

BY Allconnect | Thu Aug 30, 2018
How to boost your Wi-Fi signal to get the most out of your internet

If your internet isn’t as fast as the internet speeds you pay for, your wireless internet router signal is probably the reason. Although many factors affect Wi-Fi speeds, your Wi-Fi signal can make or break your home internet experience.

When Facebook won’t load upstairs due to slow internet, it may be time to make your Wi-Fi signal stronger at home. Use any or all  of the following tips to boost your home’s Wi-Fi signal.

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  1. 6 Ways to boost your Wi-Fi signal range and strength
  2. 5 Ways to boost your Wi-Fi speeds
  3. Ways to boost your satellite internet signal

6 Ways to boost your Wi-Fi signal range and strength

Many of the following tips can help you improve how far Wi-Fi signals reach in your home, but they can also increase signal strength, which results in a faster internet connection.

1. Angle your Wi-Fi antennas

Wi-Fi signals spread out perpendicular to your router, but Entrepreneur warns that Wi-Fi signals weaken considerably when traveling through walls at an angle. Not all Wi-Fi routers have antennas, such as all-in-one modem and router gateways. However, if your internet router does have antennas, you can angle the antennas to help your Wi-Fi signal travel straight through walls and retain signal strength.

Boost your Wi-Fi signal by angling one antenna to be vertical so Wi-Fi signals travel directly side to side through walls. Angle the other antenna to be horizontal so Wi-Fi signals travel directly upward and downward through the ceiling to second floor rooms and through the floor to the basement.  

2. Check out antenna upgrades

Another alternative is to upgrade your antenna. Some router models are equipped with visible antenna, and high-speed internet customers with these models are in luck. Why? Because some third-party manufacturers produce replacement antenna with more robust signals than the ones provided by your cable and internet provider. Some antennas are omnidirectional, so their positioning is irrelevant to maximizing your hardware upgrade—you won’t even have to angle the antenna to boost your Wi-Fi signal.

3. Move your wireless router to an elevated, clear spot

It may seem obvious, but the location of your Wi-Fi router has a big impact on the strength of its signal. Position the device in a high, open space with limited obstructions for better Wi-Fi signal results.  As we already mentioned, signals travel perpendicular to your router.  If your router is on the ground, many of your Wi-Fi signals will travel horizontally along the floor and reach fewer parts of your home. You may be able to improve the signal even further by setting up the router on the second floor if you have a multi-level home.  

Placing your router too close to materials like concrete or brick can limit its ability to broadcast to the rest of your home. The denser the objects around your wireless router are, the greater the signal loss.

4. Move your wireless router to a central part of your home

Again, since Wi-Fi signals spread perpendicular from your internet router, placing your router in a central spot can help maximize where your signals travel.

Since you probably won’t hang your Wi-Fi router as a living room chandelier, here are some alternative locations you can place your router to boost your Wi-Fi signal.

Best places to put your internet router

  • On a mantle in a central living room or family room
  • On a small coffee table placed strategically in a central hallway or living space
  • On the second floor landing if you don’t have a basement

Places to avoid putting your internet router

  • In the kitchen where other devices emit waves that can interfere with your signal
  • In a corner of your house or in a windowsill—most signals will travel outside where you’re not using them
  • In the basement

5. Configure or purchase a Wi-Fi repeater

Solving your Wi-Fi signal issues may be as simple as adding a Wi-Fi repeaterA repeater helps carry your Wi-Fi signal further while keeping the same SSID and password settings.

Essentially, the repeater contains a wireless router that picks up your current Wi-Fi signal and then another wireless router inside the repeater boosts and transmits the stronger Wi-Fi signal to other devices in your home.

You can also fashion a repeater out of an extra router. By connecting a second router to your first via their LAN ports and configuring the settings, you’ll be able to use the extra device to carry your wireless signal. Some new routers have this feature built in as “access point” mode, eliminating the need for your to mess with the device’s settings.

6. Add an internet extender

A Wi-Fi extender works similar to a Wi-Fi repeater to boost your internet signal to other rooms, but an extender tends to be a more complex solution than adding a wireless repeater to your home. The advantage is that extenders are less likely to limit your bandwidth than Wi-Fi repeaters, and they provide connected devices with a strong internet connection.

A powerline ethernet kit uses a wired link to your router to provide Wi-Fi signals to other devices in your home. Because it’s wired, it doesn’t use additional Wi-Fi bandwidth to communicate. A powerline ethernet kit is usually a good way to boost internet for basement gaming equipment or devices in a garage. Since it requires wiring, though, it’s not the best internet boosting solution for everyone.

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5 Ways to boost your Wi-Fi speeds

1. Cut off bandwidth leeches by updating security

Sometimes improving your home’s Wi-Fi signal speed is as easy as tightening up your home network security. Failure to add protection to your Wi-Fi network means opening your network to freeloaders. Extra users slow your internet connection by taking up internet bandwidth. That’s why ZDNet recommends that all homeowners protect access to their routers with a complex password and WPA2 security.

Keeping your home Wi-Fi network safe from intruders is doubly important if your home is automated. Every single connected device uses bandwidth and the more outside devices that use your network, the less likely your automated home devices will get the bandwidth they need. Plus, failure to keep your network secure might provide strangers with a bit too much control over your coffee maker, air conditioner or automated security system.

2. Optimize your router’s settings

Testing different settings on your router could improve signal strength and speeds in your home.

  • Some devices are equipped with entertainment settings that prioritize bandwidth while you play video games or stream content. This strategy is less effective when multiple users share a Wi-Fi connection simultaneously, so try turning off the entertainment settings.
  • Although it’s technical, you can try to reset the Request to Send (RTS) thresholds on your router. Essentially, the RTS threshold protocol clears a data transmission channel before data packets are sent on it. In a crowded Wi-Fi network, such as an apartment complex, setting your RTS threshold to a lower number could help improve Wi-Fi performance.
  • You can also fiddle with the router’s ir fragmentation and RTS threshold settings. Setting your fragmentation threshold to a lower value can help data packets transfer more efficiently and improve network reliability issues. However, setting the threshold to a smaller data packet size can decrease network performance if you already have a reliable network.   

3. Choose a new Wi-Fi channel

Try switching your router from a standard 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi channel to a 5 GHz channel to boost your Wi-Fi speed by getting more bandwidth and less interference.

Both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies offer multiple internet transmission channels, but 2.4 GHz only offers 14 channels, and those 14 transmission channels overlap. The channel overlap can cause data packets traveling back and forth on neighboring channels to interfere with one another which clogs up bandwidth and slows down your connection. In contrast, 5 GHz offers 23 non-overlapping channelsChoosing a channel on the 5 GHz band could minimize the number of other users on your frequency.

However, some routers are limited to the 2.4 GHz band. If your router is limited to 2.4 GHz, choose either channel 1, 6 or 11. These channels experience the least overlap from other channels, especially if you can get your neighbors to use only channels 1, 6 or 11.

4. Purchase a newer, high-end router

The biggest issue holding back your home’s Wi-Fi connection may be your aging router. Thankfully, there are numerous advantages to purchasing a brand new router, so you invest in more than faster internet speeds.

A new router could also give you improved home security features and be compatible with a wider spectrum of devices. Additional security and compatibility help homeowners interested in automating their home or making their network more secure.

5. Reset your router

It sounds simple, but sometimes resetting your router can boost your internet speed. Just as restarting your computer can suddenly fix unknown computer issues, rebooting your wireless router can alleviate internet connection problems and boost your speeds.
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How to boost your satellite internet signal in 6 steps

You can use the tips above to boost your Wi-Fi signal range and speed at home no matter what kind of internet you have. If you have satellite internet service, use some of the satellite-specific tips below to boost your signal and get the most out of your satellite internet.

1. Remove surrounding shrubbery or other obstacles

Trees and bushes growing around your satellite dish may affect your satellite internet speed. Anything from plants to snow piling up in the winter could block your dish from receiving satellite internet signals, which in turn slows down your internet speeds.

2. Add a satellite in-line amplifier

A satellite in-line amplifier could boost your satellite signal by enhancing the signal that runs along the line from your satellite dish to your home’s receiver or multiswitch.

To boost your satellite internet signal, use a bi-directional, auto-gain amplifier and a splitter. An auto-gain amplifier can also lessen your internet latency and improve both download and upload satellite internet signals.

3. Move your satellite dish closer to your home

Just as satellite signals and Wi-Fi signals can weaken the further they travel, internet signal strength can weaken the further it travels from your satellite dish to your internet modem inside.

If possible, boost your satellite Wi-Fi signal by moving your satellite dish closer to your modem inside. Ask your provider if your satellite dish can be safely placed on your roof, affixed to the side of your home or set up on your patio.

4. Ask your service provider if you need to reposition your satellite dish

Your satellite internet service provider should have set up your satellite dish to face the right direction. However, weather conditions such as high wind speeds can cause a satellite dish to move out of the correct position.

You can check the position yourself by making sure your satellite dish points south (all satellites in the northern hemisphere should face south), but your service provider can confirm whether or not your satellite faces the correct direction.

5. Ask your service provider about switching satellites

Along the same lines, you may need to ask your satellite provider if you can switch which satellite your dish receives signals from. Many providers have multiple satellites orbiting the earth, which increases the chance of getting a good signal at home. One satellite may be better located for your dish than another, so ask your service provider if you can switch which satellite your dish is directed at to boost your satellite internet speeds.

6. Consider switching service providers

You may only have one satellite option for receiving and sending signals. That satellite may not give you a good signal, though. If you ask your service provider about switching which satellite your dish is directed at and they can’t offer another option, consider switching your satellite internet provider.
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A great way to gauge your current internet signal is testing your internet speed in different parts of your home. If you notice that your internet is significantly faster in your living room than in the basement or in a second floor room, you may want to consider moving your router or using another one of our tips to enhance your signal range. Using any of these tips can help you maximize your Wi-Fi signal and enjoy a more connected home.

Originally published 3/30/15. Updated 8/30/18.
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