It's not always easy at first glance to tell whether it's your broadband or WiFi that is slow, but if a PC connected to your router with a cable is working perfectly fine and your phone seems slow, then it's worth checking your WiFi network.
Here are 6 simple steps to help you improve your WiFi speed. There are some more advanced options available to more tech savvy users, but we'll save those for a later article. For now try these simple steps.
Usually the WiFi network in your home is delivered by the router that was supplied by your broadband provider.
The latest WiFi standard is 802.11ac, that sounds a bit techy but you can find the details easily enough by looking up your router on your broadband provider's website and checking the spec. It's important because 802.11ac can run upto 3 times faster than older WiFi. New routers offer dual band functionality, which means they can use 2 different frequencies bands, the older 2.4GHz range and the newer 5GHz range, which increases the number of channels available on your network.
BT's latest router, the BT Smart Hub supports the latest technology and has 7 antenna to transmit its WiFi signal, BT claim that the Smart Hub is the best on the market. If you upgrade to BT Infinity, you'll receive this router as standard or you can buy it on its own from various high street and online retailers.
Sky's Q Hub also supports 802.11ac and is dual band like BT's Smart Hub. The Sky Hub supports 802.11n so while better than older routers out there it's not quite as up to date on the tech front, but can still handle 32 channels so may well be more than adequate for most households.
VIrgin's Hub 3.0 and TalkTalk's Superrouter both offer dual band 802.11ac so it's worth checking whether you've got the latest router available from your broadband provider as the newer tech can have a really positive impact on your WiFi performance, especially in busy homes where there are many wireless device competing for bandwidth.
Once you're happy that you've got the most up to date technology, check out where it's been placed in your home. Your router is usually connected to the master telephone socket, this is the one that brings the cable into your home. Your router needs to be off the floor, so put it on a sideboard, bookcase or table so that it's most effective. If it's on the floor some of the radio waves will be lost. Also make sure that the cable that connects the router to the socket isn't too long, as this can affect your broadband speed.
Next consider where your router is in relation to the people who use the WiFi in your home. Is it centrally located or is it in a corner on the opposite side of the house to where you usually spend most of your time ? Are your internal walls made of brick or plaster board ? Solid walls can weaken the WiFi signal so that it can't get through, and metalwork can reflect signals. Imagine your router is a fire radiating heat and don't place it anywhere where you would lose heat, behind some furniture, next to a window or in a cupbaord.
If you find that your router isn't in the ideal location, then instead of moving it further away from the master socket, you could consider buying some WiFi Powerline adaptors. These can be plugged into sockets in hard to reach areas and carry the WiFi signal over your electrical power cables.
One of the best powerline adaptors on the market is this TP-Link AV2000 TL-PA9020PKIT powerline adapter kit. The adaptor has built in technology to reduce interference from other devices and allows you to continue to use your socket for other devices. It offers a high speed connection suitable for gaming or streaming HD movies.
There are a number of mobile apps that enable you to check the signal strength of your WiFi in various places around your home or you can look at the signal strength indicator on your mobile phone to see where the signal is strongest. More sophisticated apps will show which devices and applications on the network are using the most data and some apps allow you to control which devices has have access to the network based on time of day.
It's possible to see your neighbours' WiFi networks even in areas where the houses are quite spread out. In urban areas where houses and flats are close together, many people people will be able to see your WiFi network so it's very important to make sure you have security enabled so that people can't use your bandwidth without the correct password. You don't want to be providing free bandwidth to the rest of your street or comprising the security of the devices that are connected to your network ! Most of the major broadband providers who provide a router as part of their service will already have enabled this security, the WiFi password is usually printed somewhere on the router.
Lots of devices, such as baby monitors, bluetooth speakers, electronic garage doors and microwaves use radio signals in the 2.4GHz range - which is the same as most WiFi, so make sure your router isn't close to one of these types of device. Some newer routers can automatically switch you into the 5GHz range which suffers from much less electronic interference.
Most of us never switch off or power down our devices these days, mobile phones stay switched on throughout the night, laptops and PCs slumber in sleep mode, ready for use at a moment's notice. But if you're experiencing problems with your WiFi, switching to Flight Mode or disconnecting and reconnecting from the WiFi network will refresh the connection and may improve your bandwidth. A full restart every once in a while benefits most devices, as it frees up resources that will have become used up over time, leading to slower performance.
Following these 6 simple steps should help to boost your WiFi speed, if you're still finding that your connection is slow then consider carrying out a broadband speed check to see the actual bandwidth that's being delivered to your home. Alternatively take a look at what can affect your broadband speed.