Gone are the days when you had to fight with your family members for that elusive data dongle. WiFi has slowly and steadily crept into our homes and become an integral part of our lives. It’s hard to find a guest now-a-days who asks, “Can I have a glass of water, please?” These words are replaced with “What’s your WiFi password?” Considering the fact that WiFi has democratized the use of internet (especially within the family – children are often the biggest consumers of data), it becomes a huge irritant when for some reason or the other, your home’s WiFi network doesn’t cater to all areas of your humble (or proud? Have it your way) abode. This happens when there are dead zones in your house – areas/rooms where the WiFi signal just doesn’t catch. If it’s the parent’s room, they will wonder, “What the hell are we paying for if we can’t even check email before going off to sleep?” The kids, on the other hand, will call it a conspiracy to sabotage their ‘social’ life if they are the ‘affected’ ones. Before a time comes when families break over WiFi coverage issues, let’s help you increase the range of your home WiFi.
- Position your router well – I know I will receive a lot of flak. You are asking me how to ensure that your whole house gets the WiFi network and all I suggest is position your router well? I get it. But many a times, just changing the room in which you have the router can make all the difference. I know a lot of people who have spent a fortune buying a new router and then realizing that it doesn’t make one bit of a difference. As is obvious, generally speaking, the router has to be placed somewhere in the middle of your house. Specifically speaking, if you have a long corridor and rooms lined up along the corridor, then investing in a stand for the router in the middle of the corridor makes sense. Also, you should try to place in such a way that the least number of walls come in between your router and the other rooms.
- Working on your present router – If you have ensured the best possible location for your router but still cannot catch the signal in some areas, here’s what you should do next. Check that the firmware of your router is the latest one. You can do this through a simple Google search. Type in your model number and search for the latest firmware version. Then log in to your router and check the version that you have. In case it needs updating, do it using the firmware update option that’s there on most router pages.
There’s this other thing that you can try. If you got the router free on purchasing the broadband connection, then there’s a very good chance that the external antenna(s) that it uses are omnidirectional, meaning that they throw (for lack of a less technical word) signal equally in all directions. This is good in general but what if your rooms are in the opposite direction to the router. In that case, what you need is a higher gain antenna, which throws signal in a specific direction.
- Try Wireless Bridging – Once you have exhausted all the above options, what you can do is try to use the Wireless Bridging feature. What this basically does is that it creates a bridge between two routers. So yeah, you will need to shell out extra money for a new router. But once the setup is done, you can put the two routers in two different locations of your home and use the WiFi in peace. However, you need to make sure that both the routers support the Wireless Bridging protocol and that you have technical help ready in case you are not that router-savvy. The drawback to this otherwise fool-proof solution is that the concept of Wireless Bridging has not yet made its way into India on a large scale. I realized this when I tried to set up this feature in my house and my broadband support guys had no clue what I was talking about. Still, if you wanna go for it, then Netgear routers are the best for the purpose. If you prefer D-Link, then only the D-Link DSL 2750U model supports this feature.
- Change your WiFi router – This is the second last option (yeah, there is one better than this too, wait for it). But before making that investment in a new router, here’s what you need to know. You need to check the wireless standard that your present router uses. This will be printed on the box or you can do a simple Google search too. There are different wireless standards offering different speeds. Without getting into the technical specifications, let me just say this. If your router is using the 802.11/802.11a/802.11b/802.11g wireless standard, then you might get some reprieve by changing your router to, say, one that uses 802.11n or 802.11ac, which provide higher speed and reliability. There is no point in changing your router if it uses the latter as they are the best wireless standards.
- Use Wireless Repeaters – This is something that will work for almost everyone. It’s like the last and the most effective resort. A wireless repeater is a small plug in device which catches your existing WiFi signal and spreads it further. So, what you need to do is place the router in, say, the living room, and the repeater in the room till where you get the signal. This will ensure that no dead zones remain. The best part is that repeaters are very easy to set up and the name and password of the WiFi is the same as the primary router and you can seamlessly move from one room to other without worrying about connectivity.