Nowadays we use Internet for everything. Hardly what we can not do on the Internet. We use Internet for shopping, multimedia, gaming, videoconferencing, VoIP, chatting etc. For everything! Internet is present in all areas of our live. However, very often when I look at my friends I see a picture: user sitting at his computer, red with angry and waiting to throw it against the wall.
Why such a reaction? The problem is a speed of Internet connection, namely slow Internet connection. We have XXI century, but most of my friends experience slowly loading webpages, sometimes webpage even does not want to open. Lately, my colleagues could not open even a web page with the bus schedule. Man wants to upload few photos, but can not. I do not even want to mention about videos. And yet, we hear in TV and radio about getting faster Internet offers: 10 Mbps, 40 Mbps and even 150 Mbps. But the truth is that we do not see the results. Let’s use Internet connection measurement tool available on our site. My provider claims that I have 150 Mbps Internet connection. I click START button, wait for a while and the results are:
What have just happened? Something is wrong, my provider lies or something causes that my Internet is slow.
Where is the problem? Most of people would like to write a complaint to their provider. However, before you do it, please read this article to the end. Several paragraphs may show that you are not right and the provider is not guilty.
Measurements and simulations
Let’s start from the fact, that our ISP provides Internet to our WiFi router and this device broadcasts the signal in our home. Most people think that radio frequency waves “fill” the entire area, however the truth is that these are the physical signals spreading in accordance with the laws of physics. Radio frequency waves can be blocked, scattered or weakened by obstacles (e.g. walls or furniture). The phenomenon of spreading of radio waves is called propagation. I have found my old simulation showing the propagation of radio frequency waves inside the building. This simulation was performed using WinProp software (half-empirical propagation model was assumed). For the comparison I have also the map showing measured power of received signal from Access Point. The results are:
You can see, that the singal is the strongest near to the router (red/orange color). The father we move away, the power of received signal is lower. Keep in mind that the measurement results shown on the left figure are spot, so white color does not mean that you can not receive the signal.
So, now we know what can happen with our WiFi signal. For formality, let’s us compare throughput results measured by our tool for computer placed near to the router and connected directly to it (using 1Gbps Ethernet).
The left figure presents results for computer with very good WiFi signal, the right figure is for the wire case. It is known, we can not achieve the maximum throughput (150 Mbps in this case) easily. E.g. our provider may have worse day (i.e. the network is loaded), our Ethernet cable is low quality or installation in our home/building is incorrect. So, what can we do? There are several hints which can help us.
How to speedup WiFi?
A very god idea is to place WiFi router in the center of our flat/home/room. As a result, the radio frequency waves will propagate in all directions in the same way. Of course, we will do it if we want to achieve the same (or very similar) throughput for everyone. If we want to favor ourselves, then we should place the router next to our computer, where we use the Internet the most often. It is no sense in placing the WiFi router in the bathroom, but maybe someone likes it 🙂
The second important rule is not placing the router on the floor. Most of you will ask why. The answer is trivial: router is designed to transmit the signal slightly downward. Experts advise to put the router couple feet over the floor, e.g. on a shelf or a table. You should not place the router in the basement, especially if foundations are concrete.
As it was mentioned, the signal from router can be “absorbed” by many types of materials. Therefore, let’s try to keep the router in “free space”. Do not close it in closet, box, deep shelf etc. Radio waves feel the best in free space, without any obstacle between transmitter and receiver.
The next very important thing is the fact, that your router does not like competition. What does it mean exactly? You have to put it away from others electrical devices, which can interfere with WiFi signal, e.g. microwave cook, telephones, TV etc. These devices can also block RF signal.
Now, very important thing, most people is not even aware of it. Router’s signal propagates perpendicularly to the antenna. Namely, vertical antenna transmits horizontally.
Of course, a lot of applications generating maps with distribution of RF signal is available on the marked. We are not convicted for “pseudo-random generator”.
At the end, couple of the last hints. To be sure, that our problem with slow Internet connection are caused by WiFi, we have to stock up on new and solid hardware which supports the newest standard. We should not expect to achieve good throughput when our fancy router is configured in N standard and our adapter supports the old and poor G.