Whether you’re streaming videos, using social media, or running your businesses online, a strong and steady WiFi signal is incredibly important. No one wants to see that spinning wheel that tells you your signal is too low to progress — especially while working on a deadline or trying to enjoy family movie night.
Before you invest in new equipment, however, you can do a few things to make sure your router is working to peak capacity:
- Place your router in a central location; walls, fireplaces, and other architectural elements can impact the signal.
- Make sure you’re not getting interference from other devices, particularly microwaves and wireless phones. Try moving the router around and testing the signal.
- Update your router software.
If you’ve moved things around and you’re still struggling, it’s time to look at other options. An old router will provide less-than-ideal coverage no matter what you do. If your router is more than 8 to 10 years old, it may be time for an upgrade to the best speed, security, and features available.
If your router is still in good shape, these other solutions can extend the range of your WiFi network:
Long-range WiFi antenna
Wireless routers come with antennae, but they’re not necessarily the highest quality available. Purchasing and installing a more robust omnidirectional antenna may give you just the boost you need. Plus, it’s a fairly quick and inexpensive fix.
- Easy to install
- Still have to contend with barriers in the house
- May still not reach the far corners of the home
Works best: In smaller/compact homes where devices are largely stationary.
Wireless Internet signal booster
WiFi signal boosters take your existing signal and amplify it so that you have a better signal further away from your router. These systems create new access points for your home network, effectively acting as additional routers. While this increases your WiFi’s bandwidth, it does require your device to switch between routers as you move throughout your home. If you’re connected to one router and move to an area with a stronger signal, your device may not know to switch to the router with the more robust signal.
- Easy to use
- Inexpensive to just add one booster in a low-signal area
- Devices may not transition easily between different access points.
- Amplifying a shaky signal may not help.
Works best: When one or two parts of the home need a signal boost, especially for devices that are stationary, such as smart TVs, game systems, and desktop computers.
Wireless mesh networking WiFi
Wireless mesh WiFi options, such as Xfinity’s xFi Pods, may seem similar to wireless signal boosters, but they behave differently. Mesh WiFi uses a set of devices that share a signal and work together to blanket your home with wireless coverage without appearing as multiple access points. Your device doesn’t have to change connections as you move around your home, so it’s a completely seamless experience. Mesh systems like the xFi Pods pair up with an existing router, while others are stand-alone systems with a built-in router.
- Provides seamless coverage
- Works well in larger homes with multi-floor setups
- Can be pricey, especially for large homes
Works best: In larger or multistory homes where there are low- or no-signal areas. It’s also ideal in homes with a lot of mobile devices, such as laptops, tablets, and phones, that are used in multiple locations in any given day.
Spotty WiFi coverage can be anything from an annoyance to a serious problem, depending on your reliance on Internet at any given time. Fortunately, it’s not something you just have to live with. From quick stop-gap options to comprehensive solutions, you can find the right balance to extend the range of your WiFi network.