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How to boost your WiFi signal

BOOSTWIFIFEATURE

Do your devices struggle to get the job done when they’re connected to your home WiFi? Does the WiFi work better in some rooms compared to others? If you notice the WiFi signal bar on your smartphone, tablet or computer seems to be pretty low, your devices or home layout may be interfering with the WiFi signal coming from your router.

Don’t stress – there are some simple changes you can make to get your home WiFi signal in ship-shape. If you’re suffering from a weak WiFi signal, have a read of this handy guide we’ve put together to find out what to do to improve your WiFi signal around your home.

 

Not all WiFi is created equal

These days, most routers and WiFi devices feature 5GHz AC WiFi, a newer technology that offers faster performance than its predecessors. However, routers and WiFi devices typically also offer backwards compatibility with the older 2.4GHz N WiFi, which doesn’t perform as well and is prone to more interference. Many people use the weaker 2.4GHz by default or simply out of habit. The problem is that so many devices today are using bandwidth on the older 2.4GHz N WiFi network, from phones and computers to WiFi or Bluetooth-enabled household appliances, that it can cause major local congestion.

The newer 5GHz AC WiFi is less congested simply because it has much more bandwidth available to be shared between multiple devices. Not to mention that it’s not fighting with all your other wireless devices to use the same old 2.4GHz radio frequencies.

When it comes to devices that you use for applications such as streaming video, downloads and social media, it’s strongly recommended to use 5GHz AC WiFi wherever possible for a faster, more reliable connection. Switch over your devices today and see the change for yourself!

 

How to get on 5GHz AC WiFi

The first thing to do is check that your router has 5GHz AC WiFi. Just run a quick Google search for “Does [router model] have 5GHz WiFi?” – it’ll be faster than digging through the manual. If you don’t know the model of your router, check its barcode sticker. Not only is this where you’ll find the router model, but you’ll also find the default name and password for its WiFi network(s).

Next, make sure that your devices can connect to 5GHz WiFi. If your device was manufactured after 2014, chances are that it’s compatible. If you have an older laptop or desktop computer, you can purchase a USB plug-in AC WiFi adapter from your local computer shop or office supply store to allow you to connect to this channel.

Still not sure if your device can use 5GHz AC WiFi? Just have a go at connecting – there’s no harm done if it doesn’t work. Once you’ve got all your devices connected, you may notice an immediate improvement in WiFi performance, but there’s still some other things you can check to get the best experience possible.

 

Location, location, location!

While 5GHz AC WiFi does offer better performance compared to older 2.4GHz WiFi networks, it does have a shorter range and lower “signal penetration” (that’s tech-talk for it doesn’t travel through objects as well). This range should be big enough to cover the average apartment or house, but if you live in a larger house or have thick walls, the solution may be as simple as relocating your router.

When choosing a location for your WiFi router, aim for the following:

  • A clear, central place in your home – ideally with as few walls/objects as possible between the router and locations where you use the internet most often.
  • Out in the open – shutting a modem away in a cupboard just adds more obstacles.
  • On a desk or elevated shelf – WiFi signal travels better “downwards” because there’s less obstacles for the signal to pass through, so starting out on the floor is a disadvantage.
  • Away from any trees, plants, pipes, tiles, microwaves, fish tanks, large metal objects or mirrors – these can all act as obstacles for your WiFi signal.

 

WiFi channels aren’t so much of a concern on 5GHz AC WiFi

Much a like a radio, WiFi has different channels to choose from and if too many WiFi networks are operating over the same channel, it can cause performance issues. This is most common in high-density living areas like apartment buildings, where there are more WiFi networks closer together.

However, 5GHz routers support 23 non-overlapping channels (a vast improvement on the 3 offered by 2.4GHz!) and typically scan for the best available channel when they boot up, so in the unlikely situation you do end up on the same channel as your neighbor, getting on the best Wi-Fi channel is only a reboot away! If you still need to use the older 2.4GHz WiFi network, we have a guide for switching to the best WiFi channel on iiNet modem routers here. If you have a third party WiFi modem, please visit the manufacturer’s website for support information or try running a Google search for a guide.

 

Sudden WiFi issues could be a result of background activity

When you’re already confident in your WiFi setup, it can be frustrating when the signal drops out of the blue. With the sheer number of wireless devices in the typical modern home, a common culprit for unexpected signal drops can simply be increased background activity. At any moment, our phones, laptops, gaming systems or any number of other devices may suddenly decide to do a system update, or back-up our files to the cloud, causing slower performance across the whole household. What may look like a WiFi drop may actually be your internet connection running out of bandwidth for all your connected devices.

If you are experiencing intermittent speed issues or buffering when streaming videos, you may need to consider:

  • Checking if your broadband plan is suitable for your needs.
  • Scheduling your devices’ updates or back-ups to occur at times when most users of the service will be out of the house or asleep.
  • Lowering your video resolution while multiple people are streaming at once.

 

Further options if you’re still having trouble on the WiFi

Sometimes the size or construction of your home just isn’t optimised for a WiFi signal, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have options!

  • WiFi extenders
    If you have a larger home and WiFi trouble kicks in when you’re far away from the router, you may want to consider getting a WiFi extender. This device will plug into a power outlet and relay your WiFi signal over a longer distance.
  • Wireless mesh networks
    A serious step up from a simple extender, wireless mesh networking systems have several WiFi devices installed throughout your home, all working for the same WiFi network. These devices capture each other’s WiFi signals and rebroadcast it, creating a “mesh” of WiFi signal without any dead spots.
  • Ethernet cabling
    Ethernet cabling just can’t be beat, especially when it comes to very time-sensitive operations such as online gaming or stock trading. To avoid running long Ethernet cables along floors or under doors, consider contacting an IT specialist or registered cabler to discuss getting Ethernet cabling installed in your home so you can simply plug into Ethernet ports on the wall in the rooms where you have your router, computer, gaming console and/or smart TV.

If you would like more info on optimising your Wi-Fi please check out this handy tool our friends at NBN Co. have created to help improve your home network.

Happy browsing!

Do you have a top tip for boosting your home WiFi signal? Share it with us in the comments.

47 comments

  1. Very Interest the tips about boost the WIFI signal,I will Change the position of the MODEN
    THANKS GINA + iinet.

  2. David Bonner says:

    I think I need a 5GHz router. The signal away from my router is not acceptable. Thank you for this article

  3. T. Nesbitt-Foster says:

    Great disapointment with iinet. Canged to your service earlier this year. totally unreliable frequent drop outs and no internet in study desk top pc’s.Have to use lap tops to get it.

  4. Kerry Furlong says:

    We just have very slow internet in our neighborhood of Drummoyne. iiNet is about 10mbps at the best of times, often running at 3mbps. But that’s way better than Telstra, whose top speed here in the day is 2.5mbps and evening speed is less than 1mbps.

    Since NBN installations recently began in our neighborhood, the dropouts are way worse. Hopefully when that is complete, we will get a decent speed and reliability.

  5. Grammar. ” Gina started working at iiNet …..and she’s probably told you etc”

    Should be “Gina started working at iiNet ….. and has probably told you etc”

    Gina is “she” therefore no need to say “she has etc”

  6. PAUL GOR says:

    You just need get a get a decent Access Point. The WiFi built into most routers supplied by ISPs are bad to say the least.

    Since I installed a quality WiFi AP my Netflix loads much quicker and my music casting doesn’t drop out every 5 minutes.

    Quality APs start around $100- $150.
    Check out the Ubiquiti range, good value for money.

  7. John Harris says:

    I don’t appear to have a major problems but could improve the performance as I have the router in a metal cabinet for security reasons,is this an issue?

    • Leo Yarnold says:

      That’s an interesting one, John!

      Having the device in a cabinet may reduce some of the signal range, with metal also possibly being an issue, so if you can get away with the router not being in a cabinet, its worth giving it a go.

      – Leo

  8. Tony Li Vigni says:

    I am happy with the service and i pay quite a bit for the service too. No complaints about that however when i rang the after hours customer service line, the call centre be in south africa. She could not help me nor answer any tech questions – that’s fine, however when i asked to politely speak with some one else she just disconnected the call – this happened 2 more times after ringing back. Disgusting customer after hours service

    • Leo Yarnold says:

      Hi Tony,

      We’re sorry to hear this, as this isn’t the expected service level that we pride ourselves on. We’re always happy to help and we’re keen to follow this up. Please feel free to get in touch with us directly, with your details and mentioning your review here, to iiOnline@iinet.net.au and we’ll gladly step in to help.

      – Leo

  9. Bruce Levy says:

    Good article- would have been a lot better if you would have advised what the iiNet routers/Modens you supply with your ISP service are compatible for the 5Ghz

  10. Daryll John Topp says:

    After reading Ginal’s article, why does iiNet not provide a 5GHz AC WiFi router to its customers? I have been a customer of iiNet for more than three years and I no longer believe in being loyal to companies as they are not loyal to their customers. If iiNet cannot provide me with a more updated modem then I am more than happy to change companies.

    • Leo Yarnold says:

      Hi Daryll,

      Most of our current range of modems have 5GHz AC Wi-Fi capability, so you’re always welcome to have a chat to our team about this, or, you can even add new hardware via Toolbox!

      – Leo

  11. Dawn says:

    We’ve had drop out and coverage issues since changing the modum with the NBN. We never had any coverage or drop out issues at all prior to that. We have followed troubleshooting options and have been told to get the extender to solve the problem. We are not satisfied with that solution if we are having to do this at our own expense when before we went with the NBN set up we never had any issues. We changed because we had to and now in effect pay more for a substandard service so think it unreasonable to be even more out of pocket to get the same coverage as we were previously used to.

    • Leo Yarnold says:

      Hi Dawn!

      This is an interesting situation, as there are a variety of causes for what you are seeing. From what you’ve posted, we’d suggest that the NBN connection itself is ok, but the change in hardware, required by needing to move to the NBN has revealed a need for further fine tuning of the connection. It could be something as simple as the devices not liking the 5GHz signal coming from the modem, or the signal strength being interrupted by other devices.

      The best way to tackle this is to be very methodical. This will take a little bit of time, but we’d suggest:

      * Testing the connection via ethernet cable first, to a single device, just to ensure that the connection isn’t dropping out.
      * Turn on Wi-Fi but configure the modem to only use the 2.4GHz signal – test the connection at various places in the premises with a single device (laptop/tablet, etc) and see if the connection drops out and doesn’t work effectively. Note down if the connection drops.
      * Repeat this test but turn off 2.4GHz and switch to 5GHz.

      – Leo

  12. Shane Landy says:

    I’m surprised there is no discussion on the simplicity and effectiveness of powerline adapters. I’ve found these a very effective DIY solution to getting signal to awkward places.

  13. Mary Pianka says:

    we seem to have no problem with our wifi – even-though the modem is 3 rooms away through double brick walls.
    FETCH is another story – been trying 3 weeks now to get decent customer service and anyone who will really address the problem. Fetch setup box is right near the NBN and modem. At wits end without TV for 3 weeks and no hope in site. Ready to cancel and go wifi with the dreaded T.

    • Leo Yarnold says:

      Hi Mary,

      We’re sorry to hear this! We want to make sure your Fetch is working and we know that we can help. Please get in touch with us, with your details and mentioning your post here, to iiOnline@iinet.net.au and we’ll gladly step in to whatever we can to assist.

      – Leo

  14. Shanee Luke says:

    I am disappointed with IiNet, started off really great but now all the drop outs and not getting the speed as promised at all. And it’s not just with WiFi it’s with cable too it’s so slow and I will be calling to give a major complaint. I shouldn’t be paying for something that’s ment to be so much better. So far false advertising….

    • Josh McKenzie says:

      Hi Shanee

      The great news is connection issues on our cable service are pretty straight forward to troubleshoot, identify and get fixed once reported to our support team. It’s awesome that you’ve already run some tests over a cabled connection to the gateway. I’d recommend also just making sure the coaxial cable from the wall to the modem is firmly tightened/snug. If you would like us to arrange a call from our support team to run through any last steps prior to raising a fault to have a technician attend, please feel more than welcome to shoot us an email with your availability to iiOnline@iinet.net.au and we’ll have someone that can help give you a call.

      https://iihelp.iinet.net.au/Troubleshooting_iiNet_Cable_for_Dropouts

      – Joshy

  15. Damian says:

    We are on HFC in inner Melbourne and have a lot pf drop outs. Family of five including teenagers using Apple products on your supplied Huawei router. Have tried two other routers but they don’t work on HFC NBN. Can you supply or suggest other routers that can work.

    • Josh McKenzie says:

      Hi Damian,

      There isn’t really a white list of what modems will work with NBN HFC. Most modems that support WAN/EWAN connections and support VLAN Tagging should work, however please keep in mind that the netphone will only function with the supplied modem. If you’d like to scope out what modems you’re specifically interested in and shoot us a query on whether the specific models will work to iiOnline@iinet.net.au we’d be happy to do some digging for you.

      https://iihelp.iinet.net.au/Broadband_Settings

      – Joshy

  16. Marg says:

    After reading the write up I was excited to think there was an improvement on the 2.4Ghz modem. So I phoned for a 5GHz modem and iinet wanted an additional $99. I had hoped this was included as I have already bought the service and have been with iinet nearly 8 years, should we really be paying for the upgrade after paying for the service on a plan?

    • Leo Yarnold says:

      Hi Marg,

      Modem hardware is regarded as a seperate item to the internet service. You’re able to add new hardware at any time via Toolbox or opt to recontract to obtain a new modem at a discount.

      – Leo

  17. R Tucker says:

    Its a pity you neglected to provide information to the specific router models provided by iinet to its customers

    I have a TG-1 Broadband Gateway router

    RT

    • Tal Waterhouse says:

      Hi RT,

      The goal of the article is to provide general feedback that would be applicable to all WiFi capable modems.

      If you need any specific advice related to a modem supplied by us, it may be best to give us a call on 13 22 58 or shoot an email to support@iinet.net.au with some more details so that our team can have a look into the matter and help out.

      – Tal

  18. Francisco F says:

    Isn’t interesting about IInet talking about wifi connectivity, before I came to IInet I was with Optus, I didn’t have any issues with my wifi as I do now, unless I’m closed to the modem i can loose connection, strange? but true, with Optus I could even go outside the street and still have connectivity.

    • Tal Waterhouse says:

      Hi Francisco,

      Thanks for your comment. If you’re having any issues with WiFi connectivity across the devices in your home it would be worth localised testing and troubleshooting to help determine the best configuration for signal strength in your home. Definitely give our team a call on 13 22 58 when you’re home and our team will be more than happy to help run through some testing.

      – Tal

  19. Jill dillon says:

    My wifi keeps falling out for some reason. It has not been like it, only in the last couple of months.

    • Tal Waterhouse says:

      Strange to hear, Jill. This would definitely warrant further investigation through local testing. Give our support team a call on 13 22 58 any time that works best for you or shoot some more details to us via email to iiOnline@iinet.net.au including anything you’ve tried and we’ll be happy to help out. – Tal

  20. Peter Fortune says:

    Warning – do not contact the “support team”. a) They are based overseas in Sth Africa,b) have limited training/knowledge,c)read their fixes from a text book. I have twice fell victim to their wrong advice and have had to have an independent come in and fix my problems caused by them.

    • Leo Yarnold says:

      Hi Peter,

      We’re very proud of our team in Cape Town. We’ve had them onboard for close to a decade now and they work extremely hard to provide top-notch service. All staff, no matter their location, are trained the same way and to the same standard. We’re sorry to hear that you’ve had a couple of issues, but mistakes do occur no matter the location; its up to us to resolve them for you where we can, irrespective of the site that the assistance is coming from.

      We’re here to help – if there’s anything that you’d like to discuss, please feel free to get in touch with us directly, via iiOnline@iinet.net.au and we’ll be more than happy to assist.

      – Leo

  21. My wifi which was working well until three months ago now drops out every few minutes…in fact often it won’t stay on long enough to send an email. I have tried ringing your telephone line but as I have only my wifi through you….I am a customer of Westnet which I joined ten years ago…cannot be verified apparently….though you are still happy to bill me each month…surely there is some way of letting me speak to a technical assistant without verifying my phone number and most importantly solving my trouble with the wifi. My landline and mobile are billed through Telstra. My Westnet email address which I do not use is [Redacted] I think

    • Tal Waterhouse says:

      Hi Sylvia,

      Your access to WiFi would also be related to your modem’s active connection to the internet and it would be worth determining if the issue is solely on the WiFi or an overall connection dropout.

      It would be best to work through this via testing with assistance from members of our support team. Could you send us an email via iiOnline@iinet.net.au with the same information including your best contact availability so that we can help get this followed up for you?

      – Tal

  22. Lyn Broadhurst says:

    I have read all of these comments. I switched from ADSL and my only choice with NBN was fixed wireless. That grates me, but I have also been with Westnet/iiNet for 14 years. During that time, only twice have I not received a call back. After the switch, It took 9 months to get the ”tweaking” correct so I could have a VOIP conversation without the chat dropping out. From both parties, it took patience and communication to get a satisfactory final result. My Netcom 6153 modem supplied by Westnet is dual, is positioned high on a shelf central in our home, on 2.4 GHz and easily copes with a timber frame/structure from the lounge room to outside on the back verandah. Reading this article, I shall try the 5 GHz but will have to see about upgrading the equipment for my 2011 Mac.

    • Josh McKenzie says:

      We’re wrapped to hear that the team were able to work with you to ensure your Netphone was performing as it should, Lyn. If you need a hand chatting about hardware and if an upgrade of modem will benefit the situation, we’re always keen to lend a hand. Please don’t be a stranger!

      – Joshy

  23. PS says:

    This is fine, except for those with a 2.4 laptop/PC, who are reasonably happy with current setup and throughput without extra expense.
    Is this an attempt to push 5GHz wireless, and why?

    • Leo Yarnold says:

      Hi PS,

      This certainly is not an attempt to push 5GHz wireless. Instead, we’re looking to inform our customers as to what wireless options are available to them at home. If you’re happy with your current setup, then stick with it.

      We hope this helps and thanks for dropping by.

      – Leo

  24. Sharyn Sinclair says:

    NBN installers told us their equipment had to be installed in our garage.

    Now stuck with it.

    • Leo Yarnold says:

      Hi Sharyn,

      You’re always able to raise an installation dispute through us, that can be lodged to NBN, should you so wish. NBN installers will choose to try to install equipment as close to the street as possible but you do have the right to request a different installation location.

      – Leo

  25. Mark says:

    Hi,
    Can we upgrade from a Boblite for better wifi in our house?

  26. Anne says:

    Thank you for all the above . Very informative to someone not so tech savvy.
    Cheers, Anne

  27. Wayne says:

    We have an Archer VR1600 modem supplied by Westnet/iinet. It has 2.4 & 5GHz wifi and both lights are on. How do our devices use that, especially the newer ones that would presumably have both capabilities?

    • Leo Yarnold says:

      Hi Wayne,

      It sounds like the modem is broadcasting both signals, so the compatible devices should be able to detect the 5GHz signal. One way to check this is to disable the wireless on a device, give it a minute, then turn it back on and watch to see if the5GHz signal is being picked up.

      – Leo

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