WiFi can sometimes seem as temperamental as a two year old. Yesterday your signal was great. Today you have trouble connecting. The signal is strong in the bathroom but weak in your bedroom. What’s going on?
How WiFi works
WiFi is a wireless networking technology that enables your computer and other devices to communicate without wires. WiFi signals run through a wireless router or wireless access point. In most cases, your router is hard wired to a modem using Ethernet cable. The modem is the device that actually receives the internet signal from your internet service provider (or ISP) while the router communicates with devices on the network.
Your wireless signal travels through the air, just like radio waves. If there are too many obstructions between your device and your router, you may have trouble connecting. Obstructions can include walls, furniture, appliances, and anything else that creates a physical barrier for the wireless signal.
To improve your wireless connectivity, think about how far your device is from your router and consider the number of obstructions. If you want to access your WiFi from anywhere in your house, you should place your router in a central location. If you mostly use the internet in your home office, try placing your router on top of the filing cabinet. If you mostly use WiFi to stream movies, the living room might be the best place.
Remember not to locate the router inside a metal cabinet, metal is a particularly effective obstruction.
The air is full of invisible signals that can compete with each other. Baby monitors, cordless phones, and microwave ovens can all disrupt WiFi signals. Technology Solutions Owner Ron Potvin tells a story about a client who discovered, after much trial and error, that every time his garage door opened, he lost his WiFi signal. The garage door opener was on the same frequency as the WiFi.
If you’re having a problem like this, it is possible to change the wireless channel that your router uses. This article from PC World gives you directions on how to do this. (Look under the third heading: Change the WiFi Channel on the Router) But if the idea of tinkering with your wireless network gives you a headache, contact your local tech support team or call Technology Solutions at 207-368-2880.
Finally, like any equipment, your wireless router will eventually wear out. If your wireless router is a few years old and you start having problems that can’t be explained by interference or blocked signals, it might be time for a new router.