With one child doing their schoolwork, another gaming and your partner on a work video call, there’s no shortage of devices being used in the home nowadays. With the growing number of things we’re doing online, your wifi may not be cutting it anymore.
No one’s got time for the buffering wheel on the cliff-hanger of your favourite TV show, nor can you afford your video to freeze when you’re trying to present your latest project to your colleagues via Zoom.
Upgrading to fibre, or if you’re already on fibre, upgrading to a faster fibre plan is a great first step, but there a few other things you can do to get your home wifi humming.
Here’s what you need to know.
It’s not unusual for a wifi modem/router to be stuck in a discreet corner of a house or apartment, sometimes even in a cupboard. That’s the worst place for it as wifi is radio; radios have limited range and sometimes have trouble penetrating walls. If it’s practical, try moving your router to a more central location by running a longer coax or ethernet cable from the wall jack.
A good rule of thumb is if you can see your modem, your wifi performance should be good. The more walls between you and your modem, the weaker the signal.
Because people often need wifi signal in multiple parts of the home, being close to the modem may not always be practical. In this case, consider investing in a wifi extender or mesh system. There are a number of good options including Google Wifi, AmpliFi or Orbi. Mesh systems are easy to use, often via a smartphone app. You can pick these up from your local electronics store.
Check out the images below that demonstrate how a mesh system works.
You can see in the image below the wifi modem is placed in the lounge beside the TV – this will likely result in a good streaming experience on the living room television and good signal if you’re working from home perhaps at the dining room table. But you can see the home office signal is not very good.
Now let’s look at what happens when a mesh system is put into the home office. The wifi signal is extended to the office, so you’ll have good signal in there as well.
Every home is different, and you can play around with different locations for your mesh system so you get good signal in all the places you need it. A useful way to try out your signal is using Chorus’ speed test tool.
Wifi 6 is the next generation of wifi. Updating your modem/router to a wifi 6 router will support even faster wifi speeds and the ability to handle multiple, simultaneous connections more efficiently. It will also draw less power from your wifi devices, so your phone, laptop and tablet will last a bit longer between charges.
A number of service providers now include WiFi6 equipment in their standard offering, including a WiFi 6 (AX) router/modem and WiFi 6 (AX) Mesh devices to extend coverage if required.
Wifi 6 routers are also available at electronics stores. We recommend you compare the specifications (memory, processor power, number of antennas) of different models and purchase the best router you can afford.Like any new technology, expect to pay a bit more for a wifi 6 router than a wifi 5 model. If you have a lot of wifi devices or are looking to future-proof your home network, then an upgrade to a wifi 6 router might be a good investment to make now.
And last but certainly not least – a simple but effective way to get a better online experience is to plug data hungry devices like your TV or games consoles directly into an ethernet port in your modem. This means you’ll have an uninterrupted signal fed directly to your device for a faster, more seamless experience.
Let’s face it, wifi is a household essential these days and making sure it’s working as best it can, is a smart investment to make. It can help you work more efficiently, help the kids get their homework done quicker, and make life that little bit more enjoyable.