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Expectations for Home Wireless (Wi-Fi)

Android™ Expert

Many people have been facing issues with their Wi-Fi speed, especially with fibre broadband. Wi-Fi has been becoming the bottleneck for these users. In this article, I will be explaining how you can optimise your Wi-Fi experience.

 

The Router

 

Routers come in many sizes and specifications. If you are on a 100mbps or better connection, chances are you would want your laptop to experience the full bandwidth over wireless. If you belong to this category, look for routers that have dual band capabilities. The reason being dual band routers are able to achieve a 300mbps Wi-Fi connection (for 2x2 MIMO) on both the 2.4GHz band and 5GHz band over 40MHz bandwidth. In order to achieve the 300mbps connection, your router transmits the data over a wide spectrum, which is over 2 channels. For example, to achieve 300mbps the router has to transmit over channel 1 + 5. (See chart below)

 

2.4GHz.jpg

 

However, maintaining a 300mbps connection on the 2.4GHz band is usually almost impossible due to the good neighbourhood policy. That is when your router sense that there is multiple access points, it will stop transmitting over 2 channels and uses only 1 channel. This will result the connection speed to drop to 144mbps.

 

With a dual band router, you will be able to use the 5GHz band and the 2.4GHz band simultaneously. 5GHz band has a shorter range, less congested and has more channels available. It will be able to transmit over 2 channels without much interference.

 

5GHz.jpg

 

5GHz signal drops drastically over walls and obstacles. Having a dual band router also allows you the flexibility to use the 2.4GHz band when you are in an area with a lot of obstacles. I personally find the 2.4GHz band useful when I am using my phone in the toilet.

 

It is also good to note that the Wi-Fi connection speed that you are seeing on your computer is not the actual speed you will experience. They are the theoretical speed, the actual speed is usually half of that or even lesser.

 

Another thing to note is to ensure that your devices are connected to the Wireless-N network. If you do not have any Wireless-G devices, it would be the best to set your router settings to use only Wireless-N. The wireless security should also be set to WPA2-AES.

 

The Adapter

 

The wireless adapter plays a big part in your Wi-Fi experience as well. If you purchase a high-end router but you do not have an adapter that is dual band capable, there will be minimal difference in your Wi-Fi experience.

 

There are various Wi-Fi adapters available in the market. Some comes in the form of a USB stick while others comes as PCI cards. USB Wi-Fi adapters brings the convenience of ‘plug & play’ but they usually do not perform as well as their PCI cousins. I will explain more on the PCI type of Wi-Fi adapters, using Intel’s cards as reference.

 

You may refer to this link, http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/wireless-products/wireless-product-selection-guide.html, for a list of Intel’s wireless adapters. Similar to choosing routers, you got to choose those that has the similar specification as your router. Mainstream laptops usually comes with Wi-Fi adapters that are only single band, you may want to replace it with a dual band one. I will be uploading a video on how to change your Wi-Fi card as soon as I have finalised it.

 

After changing your Wi-Fi card, you have to also ensure that its setting is correct as well by checking its properties. With all these set and done, you should be experiencing the optimal Wi-Fi experience.

 

wifi properties.jpg

 

300mbps.png

 

 

Interferences

 

There may be various interferences which might affect your Wi-Fi experience. These can be due to both hardware and software. To do a proper speed test with minimal interference, you should disable your firewall and antivirus, use a freshly installed browser, and use difference browsers (eg. Chrome, firefox). You should also remove any added equipment such as bridges, switches and homeplugs. Only one computer should be using the internet connection while you perform the test as well.

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