Increase your wireless speed without shelling out

Most of the major ISPs and all of the home router manufacturers are quick to tout the wireless performance of their equipment.  Often you’ll see claims of the “fastest wireless speeds” and “best throughput” of any device, yet often your actual experience will differ greatly.

It’s important to understand that a manufacturers quoted speed for a WiFi device is the absolute maximum that the device could ever achieve, not what you should expect in everyday use.  But, there are things that you can do to make sure you get the best possible performance from your existing equipment.

Position your router

Making sure that your router is in the best position will ensure consistent signal strength across your home.  As a guide, you should be aiming to position the router at a high level, like on top of a bookcase or high cabinet.

It’s important not to obstruct your router either, if you place a vase or photo frame next to it you’re immediately weakening the signal in that direction.  Try to give your router clear space on all sides in order to maintain a good signal strength in all directions.

Don’t use it unless you have to

It’s so much easier to use WiFi for things like Smart TV’s, consoles or computers, but if it’s convenient to use a wired connection then you should .  If you have wired devices sat near to your router, then it’s best to connect them via an Ethernet cable.

By reducing the number of WiFi devices connected to your router, you’re reducing the amount of data whizzing around, which frees up precious bandwidth for the devices that do need it.

Check your WiFi routers channel

The part of the radio spectrum that WiFi uses is split up into different channels.  Each WiFi network will operate on a specfic channel, with all connected devices automatically switching to the correct channel without any involvement from you.

Multiple routers can operate at the same channel at the same time, but when they do they have to share the radio waves which can lead to interference and slower network speeds.

Some routers will automatically switch to the channel with the least networks already on it, but most don’t.  The good news is that most routers do allow you to manually select a channel, so you can head for a quiet part of the spectrum.

You can check how busy the radio waves are in your area by using an app on your mobile device to see what channels other networks are using.


In the example above, there are multiple networks using channels 6 and 11, so I’ve positioned my network on channel 1, which has no other signals on it.  Doing so ensures that the other networks shouldn’t interfere with my devices.

iOS users can check out Network Analyzer Lite in order to see what’s going on in their neighbourhoods.  For Android users I recommend checking out WiFi Analyzer.

For instructions on how to change the channel on your specific router, it’s best to refer to the information supplied by the manufacturer.

If all else fails…

If none of the methods above yield results then it may be time to upgrade your router, or supplement it with a WiFi range extender.  Modern routers are available featuring technologies such as MiMo (Multi in Multi out) and 802.11ac (a new standard for 5GHz WiFi) to get higher throughputs of up to 1 Gbps.  While you may never see anything as impressive as that in real terms, you should certainly get better performance than an older router without those technologies.

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