3 home wifi and networking tips

3 home wifi and networking tips

Working from home has thrown up a few problems for people; if you don't have a small home office then its a laptop on your lap or the kitchen table, sometimes it may be a spare bedroom or a distant room in the house where there is some peace and quiet.

However, this then creates technical problems surrounding getting WiFi or internet conenctions that are reliable, so here is a very practical set of answers to this problem, with costs and links to equipment correct as of May 2020

The Background

Most people at home have a router (with WiFi built in) supplied by their broadband provider (Sky / Virgin / TalkTalk etc). This sits in the lounge or hallway and on the back of the router there is a WiFi Username and Password which you use to connect

The Problem

The location of the router is often not central to the home so distant points of the house and far away rooms suffer with poor coverage, resulting in slow speed. Additionally these 'free' routers can be good for light use on wiFi but now they're being used all day by many people then they can't offer the speeds you need.

The Solution

There are 3 key ways you can make improvments to your home WiFi or networking setup and they are :

  1. Hard wire with PowerLine adapters
  2. Extend the range of the current WiFi router
  3. Replace the current WiFi with a better solution

1. Hard Wire

This is the most straightforward solution. Having a cable to your device is the most reliable way to use the internet within the home. It might not be as flexible as being wire-free but it offers the most robust link back to the router so it brings the highest reliability and zero loss of signal from source

You buy PowerLine adapters in a pair as a starter kit because, as you can see, you need one either end of a link. However, once you have 2 then you can add a 3rd, 4th, 5th etc and they no longer have to be paired-up

I recommend these which I use myself : TP Link AV600 Nano

2. Extend

If you prefer to use WiFi but have 'dead spots' in the home then extending your current WiFi signal can be a suitable option.

After purchasing the WiFi Range Extender, you position it midway between your dead spot location and the main router, connecting it into a standard 3 pin plug. The extender then picks up the signal from the current WiFi router and ‘amplifies or extends’ the signal onward to your more distant locations. Please be aware, some basic configuration of this extender is needed when it arrives, but they come with simple instructions

They work fairly well  and can be a suitable solution for low volume use, but they’re not perfect.

I recommend these which I use myself : TP RE200 Range Extender

3. Replace

If you feel that the 'free' router from your supplier is not giving the best service, or you want to enhance what you have with better options, then replacing the existing WiFi is likely to be the next logical step, but don't think that getting new WiFi means throwing away all that the supplier has given you.

Retaining the router but disabling the WiFi means you will not be creating support problems in the future (the core of their kit stays in place) but you simply connect better WiFi iequipment to the router which gives a wider range of speed and reliability

Most WiFi replacement units would come as whats called an Access Point, or AP. Each AP operates on its own and you can get a single AP with more power and thus swap one poor WiFi device for one better device

However, if you have a larger home or one with thick walls, it may be sensible to get 2 or 3 AP's and drop them around the home in order to cover the widest area and provide the strongest coverage

The new AP's operate in a ‘mesh’ – meaning that 2, 3 or 4 units work together and present a single WiFi name for the whole home. Older AP's were not able to do this and so you could end up with WIFIA, WIFIB, WIFIC etc and you had to move between the AP's as you moved around the home. Mesh AP's do that for you so no matter where in the home you are, the AP's will connect you to the best and strongest signal

Having new ‘mesh’ AP's would mean that you’d be best to install them via a PowerLine adapter as they’ll need to be spread about the house and you want them cabled back to the router to make for a more reliable overall connection. This means that you'll need to combine Option 1 and Option 3 here for the best results

Setting these up requires more technical skill as you need to add each AP to a Cloud Management Platform (via scanning the units bar code) and then setting up a free account to manage the device(s). However, this is all part of the service Abussi cna provide if you let us take the strain on such installations

I understand this might be seeming very complicated and it may appear complex to complete on your own. Abussi can provide local installation services if you’re happy to have one of our engineers visit your home with social distance and pretective equipment used as required

I recommend these which I use myself : Zyxel NWA1123 PoE Access Point

Conclusions

This may all appear to be a lot of work and expense to setup, but with home working set to be with us for some time yet, its worth getting good quality home WiFi so you're productive and not suffering issues which make a challenging working environment even worse.

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