Getting the Best Out of Your Home WiFi Network
Tips on Managing your in-home Network
By Brad Medinger, Directcom Inside Plant Manager
Sometimes you may think “this Internet is slow today”. You may not realize that today most people have a home network that is not managed! You purchase a wireless router from ‘XYZ’ provider and “BAM” you have wireless Internet in your home. What you really have is a home network. That home network probably consists of the termination device, be-it a DSL modem/Cable modem/Fiber Optic ONT, then a wired, and probably wireless router (these could be combined or separate devices) then you have devices that connect to one of the previous devices. With a little care, you can manage your in-home network to get the most out of the great Internet connection going to your home.
Your router gets an IP address (think of it like a street address) from your provider and then it gives out IP addresses to each device that connects to it like your laptop, iPad or cell phone, etc. It then needs to route all this traffic that these devices create. You have a wireless router with a network and much traffic traversing it each day. This device is very similar to a computer that has programming and every now and then could use a reboot to refresh everything. Then once in a great, great while, it may need to have all of its data reprogrammed from default back to where it’s a fresh install.
You may also want to consider if you are purchasing enough bandwidth. One regular Netflix stream can easily draw 5 Megabits (https://help.netflix.com/en/node/306). Most people have an HD flat screen now, and like to ensure they’re using it, so they choose the HD media. If you are only on a 6M plan you only have 1M left. If the kids start a second stream on Netflix, Youtube, etc. in the other room your bandwidth is gone and either one or both streams start buffering (they won’t play the show straight through without pausing to download more of the show).
It may also be prudent to know; Wireless routers have an undetermined shelf life. Think about how often you replace your home computer. Wireless routers which are very similar have about the same lifespan. If you see yourself rebooting that router over and over again it may be time for a new one. You may find a newer has better bandwidth throughput, updated security and other settings that you may want such as Parental options. WEP security is not safe anymore if you’re nursing an old router that doesn’t offer WPA or the newest WPA2 security start looking for a new router. You want to keep fairly current with your router for these kinds of reasons. Another thing to look for in a new router is the latest wifi which is 802.11ac ensuring it still supports older 802.11b/g/n wifi so all of your legacy devices can still connect. Some of the newest routers offer dual radios as in legacy 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz, newer electronics can connect to the 5.0 GHz this is a ‘better throughput’ option, as alluded to before, other ‘better throughput’ mentions would be newer hardware such as chipsets and software that works hand in hand with those chipsets just like a new laptop or tablet will offer.
Placement of this wireless router can also be important. You don’t want to shove it into too much of a corner. It needs proper ventilation to keep it cool. If it’s placed in a closet that is okay, but ensure it isn’t crammed in there with no possibility of airflow, if your wireless router is anywhere where it isn’t receiving airflow you could be seriously reducing its usable life. You’ll want to consider placement also in the form of its wireless signal. A good centralized position in the home would be best ensuring it isn’t too close to metal walls such as a fireplace. If you don’t have the ability of moving the wireless router around there is a second solution. You can purchase a Wifi Extender. Hopefully you’d only need one as they cost about as much as the router. They are in-fact another wireless router with two radios. They receive the signal from your wireless router on one radio and then re-transmit that signal out the other radio extending the signal further through the home.
It may be handy to get a line on someone in your community who can come over in the event your wireless router needs to be re-provisioned. Yes we have great tech support and we are happy to help remotely, but sometimes having that someone in your home can help with more than just this one need. Maybe you have a printer that’s been on your frustration list– this person may be able to help you out with that as well. If you want professional help we do offer a “geek” service as well for this kind of thing.
All in all, we’re looking to help you have the best experience you can have with our Internet provided to your home. Information is power, we hope this little bit of information helps you have a better experience.
Want better WiFi with your Fiber Internet connection? Buy our new GigaCenter–the ultimate Fiber router.