Wi-Fi signals are essential connections, literally. However, like with any connection, that paves the way for the presence of strong or weak points.
Users today are streaming, downloading, and accessing content at massively higher rates than decades before. With such a need for data access, the demand for higher speed and connectivity is not only desired but is key.
First and foremost, the strength of a Wi-Fi signal must be labeled accordingly. Long gone are the days of happily conforming to “free” Wi-Fi by using a neighbor’s lackluster connection that merely displayed one or two bars.
As a user, there are steps that you can take to drastically improve Wi-Fi Signal Strength in order to reach higher and more efficient connectivity speeds.
Signs of “Bad” Wi-Fi Signal Strength
The First Step
The back of the router is the first spot to visit when experiencing Wi-Fi connectivity or signal strength issues. By simply turning the router off and back on, several connectivity issues can be corrected. Allow for 30 seconds before turning the router back on in order for rebooting to occur. If the problem persists, then it is time to move on to other methods, such as those found below.
Proximity to Router
Chances are, you have more than one internet-capable device in your house. In the current era of smart devices, most televisions, tablets, phones, and even some appliances function through a Wi-Fi connection. That being said, devices are subject to being scattered throughout various locations in your home and or office.
One of the most common tell-tale signs that a Wi-Fi signal is weak is based on each room’s connectivity response in relation to the proximity of the router. In other words, certain Wi-Fi enabled devices to work better in rooms closer to the router when there is a signal strength issue. Here’s a tip: move your mobile phone or laptop into a different room, if the areas closer to the router have better connectivity, this is a clear sign that Wi-Fi signal strength is not performing at its peak.
The placement of the router is also important. You can have the best router possible, but if you decide to place it behind a large wall or television set, it is most likely to hinder connectivity. Try to place your router in an area not blocked by a large object or in a central area of your home or office. The surface upon which the router is placed should also be flat and leveled and, if possible, in an elevated location.
The age of a router can directly influence Wi-Fi signal strength. Routers that have the ability for both 2.4 and 5 GHz Wi-Fi signals are a sound option when upgrading equipment. The importance of router placement also comes into here as well. However, old routers don’t always have to go to waste. One way to keep an old router going is by converting it into a wireless repeater. Wireless repeaters work to extend Wi-Fi signal connectivity to larger ranges.
If you’re looking to take connectivity a step further, mesh routers are a viable option for those looking to cover their entire house or workspace. Mesh routers are used to locate “dead spots” or areas of lost coverage and automatically perform firmware updates.
Alternatively, before investing in this type of router, consider heat mapping techniques to increase Wi-Fi signal strength. With heatmaps, users are able to access visual maps that display the strongest and or weakest area within the Wi-Fi connectivity range. NetSpot offers interactive heatmaps able to pinpoint problem areas before the investment of pricey modem upgrades.
Another issue that can compromise the strength of a wireless signal is overlapping channels. Regardless of the frequency, most routers broadcast to a designated channel. If two access points overlap or are in close proximity, disruptions in connectivity may occur. Signal-to-Interference Ratio is the phenomenon that arises from these overlapping channels. The solution, in this case, would be to change channels or configure channel settings based on the recommendations of the router manual.
It’s Not You, it’s Me
Note: If for any reason the act of plugging in an ethernet cable to the router does not improve Wi-Fi signal strength the issue is not related to Wi-Fi. This is most likely a network connectivity issue that should be addressed separately.
How to Measure and Read Wi-Fi Signal Strength
Wi-Fi is measured through milliwatts (mW), however, calculating the decimal spots needed to show strength is not very practical. Fortunately, manufacturers convert this measurement into decibels relative to milliwatts (dBm). This will be expressed under the Received Signal Strength Indicator, or simply, RSSI.
As a general scale, dBm is measured on a negative scale from -30 to -90. The ideal measurement is about -50 dBm. If the scale reads at -30 dBm then congratulations, you have the best Wi-Fi signal strength possible. On the other hand, if -90 dBm is displayed, then there is most likely no possibility of receiving a connection.
There are a variety of ways to troubleshoot, and a previously mentioned method is by creating heatmaps. At times, appliances such as microwaves or even lighting fixtures can interrupt the Signal-to-Noise ratio, rendering otherwise strong connections as useless. Similarly, Signal-to-Interference arises but when other channels are present.
Improve Wi-Fi Signal Strength
If you’re not ready to raid rooms, map-out areas, or decipher decibel readings like some makeshift Wi-Fi Indiana Jones, leave the guesswork to us. MacBook and PC users can perform a WiFi signal strength meter test by simply using NetSpot’s Wi-Fi Analyzer app.
Our meter conducts a strength test enabled through your computer’s Discovery or Survey Mode and also works on Android or Apple powered devices.
NetSpot’s Wi-Fi Analyzer app takes the guesswork out of Wi-Fi connectivity issues. We offer interactive and transparent models to create a one-stop-shop for all your Wi-Fi signal troubleshooting. This is because we combine different methods to get your Wi-Fi connectivity to its optimal levels without the need for a lengthy troubleshooting do-it-yourself. Best of all, unlike competitors, NetSpot offers its advanced tools for free.
For more information on how to get started with diagnosing Wi-Fi signal strength check out NetSpot’s cross-platform app.
When it comes to the #1 App for Wi-Fi connectivity issues, NetSpot has you and your Wi-Fi connection covered.