HOW TO: Avoid Slow Internet

Wi-Fi is a true miracle of modern times, freeing us from the constraints of working or enjoying ourselves in a fixed location and providing the freedom to move around your home and office whilst still remaining productive.

In the UK, internet companies have been providing homes with Wi-Fi connections for many years but many home-owners are unaware of how to go about improving the signal in their home and may be the victim of weak Wi-Fi signals in certain rooms.

This article is a short guide to improving your Wi-Fi signal and getting more from your Internet connection.

Are you receiving the advertised connection speed?

Many do not receive the connection speed that they are paying for. Companies get away with this by advertising this as a maximum speed at which you will connect. To see whether you are receiving a good deal, go online and conduct an Internet speed test.

Armed with the information about your connection you can switch providers or negotiate a better deal for yourself. Those living in rural areas may be unable to access a fast connection but the government has pledged to provide 2MB connections for all UK households by 2014.

Improving signal distribution

The mid-range Wi-Fi routers that are typically supplied in the UK are omnidirectional, meaning that they transmit signal equally in all directions. As most routers are situated next to an external wall, this can lead to dead spots in your signal. If possible your router should be centrally located, raised from the floor and 30-50cm from the nearest wall.

Signal strength will be attenuated by bulky walls or appliances, so ensure that such items are not in the desired signal path, though this will more likely involve moving the router than removing walls!

Reflective surfaces such as mirrors or even polished metal services of appliances will reflect Wi-Fi signals; often not in the desired direction. This effect can be used to your advantage if your Wi-Fi router is placed next to an external wall. Placing a mirror against the wall bounces the signal back into your home boosting its strength.

If none of these fixes provide a solution to your problem there are a number of further options available. The simplest way to provide connectivity for a distance part of your home is via an Ethernet cable which can either be directly connected to your computer or laptop, or connected to a Wi-Fi router at the other end to provide wireless Internet.

Internet signal can also be distributed via PowerPlus plugs which use electrical wiring in your home to form an ad hoc network. Speeds of up to 200 Mb can be achieved making this a great solution for those wishing to share large files such as movies.

Other solutions include upgrading the antenna on your router to boost the signal strength or buying a more expensive professional model. Signal boosters are all so available which can extend the range of Wi-Fi by hundreds of metres and provide access to the bottom of the largest garden allowing unfettered Internet access throughout your home.

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