The Problem with Wi-Fi
WiFi, A marvel of modern technology. Enables us to cut the cord to work and play anywhere, any time. We can look up recipes in the kitchen, stream music in the bathroom and watch shows in the garden. It’s been with us for years now and is a staple of any home or business. So why is it that with this state of the art, thoroughbred technology lets us down so often?
Standing on the wrong side of a room or stepping through the wrong door can cause annoying and confusing inconsistencies with signal strength. The long and short of it is that Wi-Fi is chaotic and fickle:
- The signal bounces off certain materials more than others.
- Thicker walls in older houses or old external walls of extended houses are riot shields to Wi-Fi signals.
- If other routers in the area are operating at the same specific frequency, then there will be congestion and interference.
- Metal structures in home, offices or industrial units almost act like a mirror to the signal.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many factors that go into what makes a good Wi-Fi signal, but with a typical home/business setup of one router, in one place, it’s nigh on impossible to cover a large complex structure. That’s not ideal and there’s not a whole lot of tweaking that can be done to remedy the situation.
There are a couple of popular off the shelf solutions available: Wi-Fi repeaters, and Wi-Fi power-line adaptors. Wi-Fi repeaters work by…. well, repeating the signal. They take in the main signal from the router and push it back out as a freshly invigorated service to cover the local area. The problem is that if they are placed in a room where the signal is already bad, the signal they push out will be as terrible as it was before.
You may see full signal on your phone but it will still be limited by what the repeater is taking in. The other problem is that Wi-Fi repeaters are generally less powerful than your routers output power, so even if they are repeating a good signal, it’s normally only good for the room it’s placed in.
The next best solution is to use a power-line adaptor. These work by transmitting the data over the electrical wires in the house rather than connecting to the router through Wi-Fi. This might sound like a solution to solve the problem, but there’s a catch:
- They can be unreliable, often requiring a reboot on both ends to get them working again.
- They don’t play nicely when plugged into surge protectors or even some extension leads.
- If you have different electrical boards (consumer boards) within the house or perhaps a garage or office you want to extend to, they will not work.
The upside to these solutions is that both can be bought cheaply, and most people can install them with ease. In some settings under near perfect conditions, they are certainly the right things to get, but for more complex situations they will cause more problems then they solve.
The real solution:
The best solution to total, reliable WiFi coverage is to run dedicated cables to wireless access points (AP’s). They cost more than the aforementioned units but once they are installed, they will be consistent and reliable. However, you shouldn’t run in to a project like this without fully understanding what is required. The building should be surveyed with a test unit and heatmapping software to plan the optimal locations for the AP’s. After that, a proper plan for cable routes should be written up so that you get the most efficient and tidy installation possible.
It’s likely that this sounds like a technical, complex task to take on, or perhaps you just don’t have the time or resources to take it on. At EasyPC we have over 10 years of experience installing networking and WiFi systems that give full coverage with a small footprint. Our experienced engineers have performed installations in homes, offices, farm houses, hotels, schools and country halls. All our installations are neat and tidy, and if no cables are allowed to be on show, then we will always find a solution.