The internet has drastically changed over the years and Wi-Fi plays an important role in providing seamless access to it. With various Wi-Fi routers and configurations available, it can be overwhelming to decide on the optimal Wi-Fi set-up. To ensure you’re getting the best out of their Wi-Fi, you can take a few simple steps at home to ensure optimal internet speed if working from home. 

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Understanding Wi-Fi Basics

Ishan Patel leads consumer premises equipment (CPE) Product Management at Google Fiber.

Having a basic understanding of what Wi-Fi is and how it works can help you better understand your home’s internet needs and adjust your set-up accordingly. Your Wi-Fi comes from a wireless router which is often connected directly to a modem. The speed of this connection will depend on the internet speed you subscribe to, router’s capabilities and placement of your router. Bandwidth refers to the amount of data your network can handle at once. 

A single router can only handle so many devices without slowing down, since each connected device impacts Wi-Fi differently. Streaming on 4K TVs and downloading updates for your gaming PC will have a high impact on your home Wi-Fi compared to smart light bulbs and thermostats. 

Know Where Your Most Streamed Rooms Are

It’s not unusual to have one router covering an entire home, but this doesn’t always provide a great internet connection in every room. Devices might be placed in areas with poor Wi-Fi signal, resulting in interruptions and degradation of the Wi-Fi network. You can solve this issue by setting up a Wi-Fi mesh network, which combines one or more access points with your router and creates a seamless Wi-Fi experience across your whole home. Try placing an access point halfway in-between the Wi-Fi router and beginning of the poor Wi-Fi area for a performance boost. 

Plug-In Your Some of Your Devices 

If you have a dedicated office for working from home or a gaming room, you might want to consider connecting stationary computers and gaming consoles to a router via an ethernet cable for a dependable internet connection. Wired devices aren’t susceptible to Wi-Fi interference and typically receive better speeds than Wi-Fi. Wiring high utilization devices can often lead to better performance for Wi-Fi connected devices as well, since it reduces congestion and opens up the airwaves for Wi-Fi devices. This also can work well for streaming devices, like 4K TVs.    

Not all Wi-Fi is created equal

There are three different Wi-Fi frequencies:

  • 2.4 GHz: Most common across all Wi-Fi devices and routers. 2.4 GHz is typically heavily congested due to interference from neighboring devices and other consumer electronics. 
  • 5.0 GHz: Most modern smartphones, laptops and Wi-Fi routers support this. 
  • 6 GHz: Recently launched for public use and only available in high-end Wi-Fi devices. 

All three frequencies have pros and cons. A 2.4 GHz spectrum usually reaches more areas and offers wider coverage. However, it has considerably less bandwidth than a 5.0 GHz spectrum, meaning your streaming TVs may have to buffer. The 5.0 GHz offers less range but can power many devices at once, so smartphone and laptop users won’t have to worry about interruptions with this frequency. 6 GHz offers even better speeds than 5 GHz, but at the expense of coverage area is limited to new phones and laptops. 

Users typically do not have to make the decision about which frequencies to use, as long as their Wi-Fi SSID and password are the same across all frequencies. Your Wi-Fi devices will auto-connect to the appropriate frequency based on its location and intended use. For example, while a device may be connected over 5.0 GHz, it will automatically switch to 2.4 GHz when it’s on the outer end of its signal range. Similarly, your smartphone will automatically switch to a better frequency as it moves closer to the router. 

The internet and Wi-Fi devices continue to evolve, your home Wi-Fi network needs to keep up as well. Saving these internet tips and tricks may prevent a frozen meeting moment when working from home and keep those movies and games running smoothly in every room of the house.

 Author: Ishan Patel leads consumer premises equipment (CPE) Product Management at Google Fiber. He has 10+ years of experience in consumer mobility and fiber industries, launching a number of products, services and platforms.