Byte Me Article 291 – Wi-Fi Woes

Fixing all your Wi-Fi worries

So you have Wi-Fi at your place but it doesn’t always work and sometimes it drops out and you don’t really know if it is working properly.  Well today I will attempt to explain the how, why and what to do if this is the case and if you think it’s not an important issue just ask your kids or wait until the grandkids come and visit and want to leave sooner than expected!

Wi-Fi is a wireless signal that is broadcast around your home by a device that is sitting in your home that you have purchased or which has been supplied by your Internet service provider (ISP).  This is not to be confused with the phone/Internet signal (3G/4G/NextG – wireless broadband) that is broadcast from a Telco’s tower sitting on a nearby hill top.  Your Wi-Fi device is normally integrated into your modem/router (black or white box) and in Central Queensland the majority of modem/routers are ADSL ones – which connect to a copper phone line.

For people getting the NBN rollout you will still need a modem/router however it will most likely be a different one to your existing ADSL device.  For satellite and wireless broadband users that have a device that also resides permanently in your house, some of these devices also have a Wi-Fi component built in.  The point that I am getting to is that most of these ‘built in’ Wi-Fi devices are pretty sub-standard.

What we find and what we are going to find more with the NBN is that if you have a modem/router with integrated Wi-Fi then it is often the Wi-Fi component that lets people down.  If you think about the typical cost of these ‘all-in-one’ devices which are in the $100 to $400 range and often free from your ISP then you can see that the Wi-Fi part of them may be worth as little as $30!

In the areas of IT you don’t get much for $30 and as a result many of these devices offer very limited range with this Wi-Fi signal.  For instance if the router is at one end of your house and the bedrooms at the other then the ability to look at something on the Internet from that location is often impossible.  Furthermore many people confuse this weak Wi-Fi signal with the idea that their Internet is running slow.

Any chain is only as strong as its weakest link and in some cases the link between your router and the Internet may be fine but the Wi-Fi link between your router and your laptop or tablet may be at fault.  You can’t really put a better Wi-Fi antenna in your laptop or tablet but you can increase the range of your router drastically.

A dedicated wireless access point (Wi-Fi device) can literally have 10 times the signal penetration and range as some of the devices talked about above.  We have seen people battle with Wi-Fi range extenders, extra routers and all manner of crazy solutions only ending up both frustrated and out of pocket.  The dedicated wireless access points that we supply easily cover a large 2 storey brick home from top to bottom and front to back with just the one device.

As a side note this week – keep in mind that if your Internet stops working all together out of the blue then consider that it is most likely all the work that is currently going on with the NBN rollout causing the problem.  In this case it will often start back up on its own accord after an hour or two and if not that would be the time to start phoning your ISP or looking for another fault. 

Future Byte Me topics can be emailed to [email protected] and Bruce is contactable at Kerr Solutions, 205 Musgrave Street or on 49 222 400.

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