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How to Fix Slow WiFi: 5 IT Remote Work Tips

05.19.20

Is your home network struggling to keep up now that you are working from home? You are not alone. Many remote workers are learning how to fix slow WiFi to stay productive from their home office.

Most home networks are meant to support approximately five devices, but in addition to laptops, smart phones and tablets, many home networks are overburdened with new wireless devices like Alexa, Nest, Peloton and Sonos. All in all, some homes have more wireless devices than some small businesses.

Whether you work from home all the time or sometimes, you likely notice the free router/modem from your internet service provider is just is not cutting it in today’s smart device world. Thankfully, there are several ways to simply fix slow WiFi at home, so you can stay productive outside of the office with ease.

How to Fix Slow WiFi by Adding Wireless Antennas

What should you consider when upgrading a home network? To expand the WiFi coverage in your home you will need more wireless antennas, or access points.

All WiFi routers and access points have about the same coverage, so by adding additional wireless antennas you will improve your WiFi coverage and strength.

Brands that BPM’s Managed IT Services professional recommend include Netgear Nighthawks, Linksys AC and Asus Tri Band routers.

Upgrade to a MIMO Router

Investing in a better internet router may seem like the obvious fix, but choosing the right router can make or break completing your work from home agenda.

A basic upgrade from a 2.4 Ghz to 5 Ghz frequency can be supported by most modern wireless routers. However, while 5 Ghz is faster the range is shorter and that should be considered if you tend to work from multiple areas around the house.

If you do not want to compromise speed for range, a more advanced upgrade to a Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) router. A MIMO WiFi router communicates with multiple devices simultaneously and thus decreases the internet lag time on devices and radically speeds up your network.

A MIMO router with two antennas (2x2) is good, but a MIMO router with four antennas (4x4) is even better. If you are planning to take the time to upgrade your system, bigger–in this case–is better.

Choosing the Best Location for Your WiFi Router

If you have chosen to upgrade from your internet service provider (ISP) router/modem to purchasing your own, consider location.

Since a WiFi signal is fixed, you cannot make it stronger, so putting it in the right location is key. If your home is a single story, try to put it in the most central location. If you are unable to cover your entire home, put it in the most open area, like your living room.

It is also important to consider your home construction materials, because they will impact WiFi signal.

If you live in an old house made with plaster, or a home with concrete, brick or thick wood walls, your WiFi signal may barely cover two rooms. WiFi signals will struggle to penetrate thick materials, so you can expect a slower connection.

In open space, WiFi will reach a maximum of 150 feet. Walls can reduce the signal by 50% depending on construction material.

To avoid this issue, connect your router as close as possible from your office or where you work from home more often.

Improve Your WiFi Network With Ethernet and Advanced Router Features

Ultimately, plugging into an Ethernet port will provide the fastest possible connection to your internet. If that scenario does not fit into your ideal telework setup, there are some advanced WiFi router features that will improve the quality of your internet.

When evaluating equipment, it is important to make sure the router includes either a quality of service, traffic prioritization, or application control setting. You will find these options on most gaming routers. All Netgear Nighthawks, Linksys AC, and Asus Tri Band routers have these options.

Next Level Networks: Mesh WiFi and Ubiquity Unifi

Whether you have a large home, or an old home with thick walls, it is likely that no matter where your WiFi enabled router is located, you will not be able to adequately cover your entire home.

Welcome to the world of Mesh WiFi.

Mesh WiFi consists of multiple wireless access points that act as one, allowing you to move around your home while staying connected to the same network. This is also a great small business solution for traditional office spaces, as employees need range to move from their desks to conference rooms and beyond.

Amazon and Google are now both offering more affordable mesh network products to solve this issue.

While the Amazon Eero and Google Nest use WiFi to send traffic back to the router, ideally these devices should instead send traffic via a hardwire back to your router. Hardware performs at a faster speed–about 1GB vs WiFi’s 300MB–and it is more reliable and stable than a fluctuating WiFi connection.

Linksys Velo is perhaps the only home consumer product with hardwire capabilities. This product enables your home network to operate more like a business network, with a router connected to your ISP modem and access points spread throughout your home connected via an Ethernet cable.

If you are not technically-savvy, but need to overcome many of the WiFi obstacles experienced at home, consider Ubiquity Unifi. This product will allow you to build a small and very configurable network managed from the cloud.

These systems have the capability to boost speed in larger homes, or for those who work from home with larger families or many devices, because it has the ability to power 25+ devices. They can reach your TV in the upstairs bedroom all the way downstairs to your home office, living room, even your garage if that’s where you have an internet-connected workout system.

BPM’s Managed IT Services team has the knowledge and experience to help you deal with any of your at home IT needs, including setting up next level networks. Contact BPM Partner Michael Sellai to get started on a path of enhanced remote work productivity.

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