By Ishan Patel | Point of View
We have better home internet than ever before, but we also ask more from our internet — and Wi-Fi technology — than ever before.
With more devices from TV to speakers to in-home assistants to doorbells and many more making demands on your home Wi-Fi, it’s important that your home Wi-Fi is set-up to make the most of your wireless bandwidth in order to cover your needs across your whole household.
With some basic Wi-Fi know-how and a few easy tips, you can make sure your home is a Wi-Fi workhorse.
Basics of Wi-Fi technology
A Wi-Fi network is your wireless gateway to the internet. This connection comes from a wireless router which is often connected directly to an internet modem from your ISP.
The speed of this connection will depend on the internet speed you subscribe to, and the router’s capabilities and placement. Your bandwidth refers to the amount of traffic your internet connection can handle at once. One wireless network can only handle so many devices without slowing down. Different types of devices take up a different amount of room and speed on your network.
For example, 4K streams on whatever device you use, downloading updates on your gaming PC, and streaming virtual reality content set will have a high impact on your Wi-Fi , whereas smart light bulbs will have a very limited impact. Take an audit of your home devices and understand how much bandwidth they need.
Check your Wi-Fi frequencies and update if necessary
Three different Wi-Fi frequencies exist, each with their benefits and tradeoffs.
The 2.4 GHz band is the oldest and most widely used Wi-Fi band. It offers good range and penetration, making it a good choice for devices that need to be connected to a network in a large area or through walls and other obstacles.
However, the 2.4 GHz band is also the most crowded, as it is shared by many other devices, such as microwaves, baby monitors, and garage door openers. This can lead to interference and reliability issues. 2.4 GHz band is ideal for devices with low bandwidth needs such as smart light bulbs, door locks, and other iOT gadgets.
The 5 GHz band is newer and less crowded than the 2.4 GHz band. It offers faster speeds and better performance for bandwidth-hungry activities, such as streaming video, file downloads, gaming, and file sharing. However, the 5 GHz band has a shorter range than the 2.4 GHz band, so it may not be a good choice for devices that need to be connected to a network through walls and other obstacles.
The 6 GHz band, released in 2021 is the newest Wi-Fi band and offers greater than 1 Gbps Wi-Fi speed. It is also less crowded than the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands, so it is less likely to experience interference. However, the 6 GHz band also covers a shorter range and not all Wi-Fi devices support it.
While this may seem confusing, users typically don’t even have to think about it. Most Wi-Fi routers will auto-connect to the best frequency as long as the Wi-Fi network name (SSID) and password are the same across all frequencies.
Create multiple access points in your home for Wi-Fi
One router can often have difficulty covering an entire home, especially if the home is larger or has thick walls. A mesh network, which combines two or more access points and creates a seamless transition as you move around the house, can help solve this problem. These networks can be tailored to fit the size and needs of your home. Identify where you use your devices most. If you routinely experience poor Wi-Fi speeds in an area, you can improve your coverage by placing an access point halfway between the router and poor coverage location.
Wi-Fi: Hardwire slower and higher bandwidth devices
Wi-Fi is great when your device is portable, but hardwiring your devices to an ethernet cable can be a good idea for some devices that use a lot of data but don’t need to move. Hardwiring will always give you faster internet speeds. So, if your home does a lot of 4K streaming or real-time gaming or frequent file sharing, you may want to plug those devices in. This will help with bandwidth and buffering for both those devices and the devices that are using your Wi-Fi.
By using these tips to maximize your Wi-Fi, you’ll get the most out your home internet on all your devices.
Editor’s note: Mr. Patel leads consumer premises equipment (CPE) Product Management at Google Fiber. He has 10+ years of experience in consumer mobility and fiber industries, launching a number of products, services and platforms.