Our increasing dependence on WiFi wireless networks is no secret. Who hasn’t heard someone say, “the network’s down” or “the WiFi is down” at least once a month, whether at home, office, school, or a coffee shop?
There are few things that we rely on more than wireless networks to interact with our world. Even when we are hurtling through the air at 30,000 feet, we want and expect to be connected. We watch streaming shows, sports, music, and live events from our family and friends.
Check these 5 things when you can’t connect or if you have slow speeds:
Sometimes it is the network - We’ll check this first, because if you can connect to the Internet, you don’t need to check the basics. Ultimately, the APs connect to an Internet connection. Sometimes that connection isn’t capable of supporting the number of people using that network. Sometimes that connection goes down. You can test your speeds and connection using sites like fast.com or bandwidthplace.com - neither need Java or require you to install an application to run. You should definitely see the speeds you are paying for, or if you are using someone else’s network, you’d like to see about 5 Mbps to stream video. Call your cable or phone company if you aren’t getting the speeds you are paying for.
The Basics - Let’s get the basic settings verified first if you can’t connect to the Internet. Verify that you have WiFi enabled on your device. See that you’re connected to the right SSID (or network name). Verify your device has been authenticated. If not, check you have the correct password. And double check that the AP is broadcasting the correct SSID. You may need to talk to the help desk if this isn’t your home or business network.
Don’t DoS Yourself - you can actually cause speed problems for yourself by setting your wireless access points to the wrong channels. Use channels 1, 6, or 11 for your 2.4 GHz band. These are the only non-overlapping channels. Better yet, use the 5 GHz band, where there are far fewer devices, 24 non-overlapping channels, and you can get faster speeds.
Microwaves - this one only matters if you’re using the 2.4 GHz band. Microwaves are close in frequency to the 2.4 GHz band and can overpower your signal when in use. One of my co-workers has very young kids and they have learned that they can’t watch their videos when they use the microwave to make their popcorn. Again, change to 5 GHz if you can, or move your AP so the microwave isn’t between you and the AP.
Not enough APs - the number of devices connected to your AP, and the distance between your device and the AP impact the network speeds you’ll be able to enjoy - or not enjoy. There’s only so much capacity available per AP. The more devices that connect to an AP, the slower the experience will be for everyone connected to it. Add APs to balance the load and keep the distances short.
If you are a business or school and need expert advice on how to design and operate your WiFi network, give us a call at 1-888-994-9446 or email us. We’ve done just about every type of WiFi network for hospitality networks large and small, festivals, retail, and schools. You can see some of our previous work here.