By Himanshu Kale, TP-LINK Tech Support
If you’re struggling with a poor wireless signal or slow connection speeds then you need to read on. This article outlines five quick fixes that will boost your internet connection speeds, security and wireless coverage.
1. Never underestimate your router. It’s your gateway to the internet. It sounds simple but make sure it’s in the best possible location to maximise wireless reach. Like ripples in a pond, a wireless signal is disrupted by physical barriers, for example walls. So, to get the best possible signal strength and range from your router place it somewhere central.
Many ISPs provide a free router but it may not be man enough for your business. Wireless is measured in Mbps, megabits per second. The higher the number the faster your network and the more bandwidth you can share between all the connected devices. You can check your wireless speeds by doing a simple speed check using one of the many free tools available like www.broadbandspeedchecker.co.uk/. It’s also important to note that there’s a new wireless standard called AC that can increase wireless speeds by up to 3 times in comparison to the previous standard, wireless N.
Depending on your ISP, you may not be able to change your router. But you can still improve the wireless performance. Turn off the wireless on your ISP provided router and connect another router to act as an access point and provide the wireless function. This may sound daunting but it is, in fact, a simple process to maximise your wireless output so more devices can connect simultaneously. You can pick up an entry level AC router from as little as £50.
Choosing the right router speeds box out.
Heavy Usage - AC Wi-Fi
For busy environments where interruptions are inexcusable and bandwidth is at a premium.
Three times faster than wireless N, AC provides a solid foundation for bandwidth hungry locations.
Choose AC when there are 10 or more wireless devices connecting at the same time.
Medium Usage - N600 Wi-Fi
Microwaves, digital phones and wireless routers all transmit on the same frequency, 2.4Ghz. Beat the wireless bottlenecks and use two frequencies at the same time.
Dual band is perfect for environments with more than 5 devices connecting to the wireless network simultaneously.
Light Usage - N300 Wi-Fi
N300 is a good choice where speed and bandwidth matter and where less than 5 wireless devices connect to the network at the same time.
2. Check for wireless congestion. If, when you search for a network lots of names appear then you could be suffering from wireless congestion. Where multiple networks broadcast on the same wireless frequency you will experience a decrease in performance. This tends to happen if everyone is using the standard 2.4Ghz channel. To improve performance you can log on to the routers administration page by typing in its IP address which will start with 192.168 (and will probably appear on the bottom of the router) then go to the ‘wireless settings’ section and follow the instructions to change channel.
Alternatively you can introduce Dual Band wireless, in other words you router will broadcast on two frequencies simultaneously which means you can spread the load on your wireless network therefore providing more bandwidth for each device. There will be some devices in your office that are not dual band enabled and will only connect to the 2.4Ghz frequency. Other devices like laptops, smart phones and tablets that are dual band enabled and can connect to the less congested 5Ghz channel. See tip 3 for ways to upgrade desktops and laptops to dual band.
3. Boost wireless reception at a device level. In the case of laptops and desktop PCs wireless functionality is often built-in to the device. However, depending on the spec of the wireless receiver it may be limiting the quantity of data the device receives per second. To improve reception, the most simple and straightforward solution is to insert a USB wireless adapter. Like with routers, the higher the Mbps the more data you can receive per second and therefore the faster your wireless connection. Adding a USB wireless adapter means you can upgrade a laptop or desktop to dual band for less than £20. For a more permanent and faster solution for desktop computers only, you can insert a PCI or PCI Express card which connects directly to the motherboard to maximise connection speeds. Unless you are comfortable with the inner workings of your computer it’s recommended you outsource this to an expert.
4. Improve security and performance. When security and performance matter, creating a separate SSID or wireless network for individual departments will streamline data flows for a faster data transfer speeds. For example without a separate network, members of the marketing team who are sending and receiving large images or video will hog bandwidth and compromise the wireless experience for the rest of the office. Creating a separate network for Marketing ring fences bandwidth for the rest of the office.
Creating sub-networks for individual departments also means that potentially sensitive data for example from HR or Finance can only be accessed by people authorised to use that network. This is particularly important if you provide wireless access to visitors and guests. Providing a guest network means you control which people and devices can access servers, printers and of course desktops within your business. Why is this important? Whether intentionally or not, visitors’ devices may launch Trojans or malware onto your network causing potentially catastrophic data corruption and compromise your businesses integrity. Most routers include a guest network facility, alternatively for larger organisations you might want to consider access points developed for business use. Typically they are ceiling mounted and need to be installed by an expert.
5. Wireless Dead Zones are a common problem particularly in large, industrial or older properties where wireless simply won’t reach. In this instance there are two simple solutions to boost wireless coverage, depending on your preference and level of expertise. A wireless range extender will boost the range and strength of your wireless signal. The range extender unit has to be placed within wireless range of your router to work. It will then clone your router settings to provide a seamless wireless roaming experience.
Alternatively there are powerline adapters. You need at least two adapters to create a powerline network. One adapter connects to the Ethernet port on your router and effectively pumps data into your electrical circuit. Place the second or subsequent powerline adapters in an electrical socket wherever you need an internet connection. Powerline adapters come with a range of features from multiple Ethernet ports connecting multiple devices simultaneously to wireless hotspot functionality so you can choose between a wired or wireless connection. As long as the adapters are on the same electrical circuit you can use them to provide an internet connection to a remote building within a power circuit of 300 meters or less.
So, if your wireless network is causing bottle necks, don’t despair there are simple solutions that don’t require a degree in computer science. Take a moment to step back and analyse the problem then pick the right fix from the list above.