TECH BRIEFS: Wi-Fight the Inevitable?
Posted by James Ott Jr on 5th July 2017
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Photo Credit: BlogGeek.me

WiFi is a technology that uses radio waves to provide network connectivity

 

WiFi is a funny thing. WiFi is made up of RF signals that are going through your home or business. A good signal from your router depends on signal coverage, and minimal interference.

Location. Location. Location. The location of your WiFi router can be very important. The higher up in your building you can place your router, the better coverage you should have. However, even with a higher placement, coverage cannot always be guaranteed. There may be “dead spots” or low signal areas. Signal boosters or repeaters may be used in larger homes and businesses for increased coverage. A simple coverage test can tell where coverage exists and what accessories you may or may not need. The main drawback is that you may sacrifice overall throughput. Enter WiFi Mesh. WiFi Mesh Networks are fairly new to the industry. The design behind this newer tech is to combine access points in a different way so as to increase coverage without the sacrifice to throughput.

Router placement in your home is key
WiFi Coverage | Photo Credit: Ekahau.com
WiFi Mesh | Photo Credit: Netgear

So what about interference? WiFi RF is transmitted in frequency channels. When dealing with urban and high density suburban areas, WiFi signals from neighbors can “flood” your home and block your own signal. Sometimes it only slows down your connection. Many times it can almost completely cut off communication with your router. Testing your WiFi to see which channels are free is usually a great step forward. Moving to the right channel that is less crowded can improve your signal strength dramatically. Newer WiFi routers have started making the move from 2.4GHz to the 5GHz range. This is to help alleviate the frequency overcrowding. Below is an example of how WiFi networks overlapping can cause interference.

WiFi Congestion | Photo Credit: WiFi Analyzer

While there are still many WiFi routers that can only work on the 2.4GHz range, most devices in the last couple of years were built to communicate on both frequency ranges. The main drawback is still overall coverage. The 5GHz range does not offer better coverage when compared to the 2.4GHz range. However, if you are in a flooded environment, 5GHz range may still be the right answer.

2.4GHz VS 5GHz | Photo Credit: Phorus

The best WiFi routers are the ones that can broadcast in both ranges simultaneously. This provides most users the benefit of both signal strength and coverage. Without a dual router, the question you may have to ask is what is more important, bandwidth or range?

Now I’m sure that you are going to ask about your mobile devices themselves. Cell phones, laptops, tablets and such made in the last four years or so were built to communicate on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies. Chances are the mobile phone in your pocket right now can communicate on the 5GHz band. So why not just go “All In” on 5GHz? That is a very good question without a decent answer. The short answer: People. The not-so-short answer: Many times adopting newer technology is scary. It is very easy to shy away from what you do not understand. Not making the change is more of an excuse than a compelling reason.

With newer streaming services and cloud-based technology, there has never been a better time to move to 5GHz for WiFi. I pushed my chips into the center. Now it’s your turn to go “All In”

Photo Created By: PT Computer Repair