Tips and Best Practices for Optimal Home Wi-Fi Internet Connections

This article is broken into two parts: Ways that may improve your home Wi-Fi experience without spending money, and ways that may improve your home Wi-Fi by spending money in upgrading.

Part One: Tips and solutions that do not normally cost money to implement

Watch a two-minute video with information and tips about Wi-Fi connectivity

Update the router and modem firmware
Upgrading the firmware on your modem and router can significantly improve Wi-Fi speeds. If you own your own equipment check the product website on how to complete a firmware update, or call their tech support. If you rent your equipment from your ISP, call their tech support line for help.

Change the default Wi-Fi channel
Wi-Fi routers can broadcast their signal on more than 10 channels. Often the default broadcast channel is 6. Moving it to another channel, like 2 or 11, will stop your router contending with others in your neighborhood and can greatly improve Wi-Fi performance.

If your router has a 5Ghz SSID, connect to it
Some routers broadcast both SSID’s at both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz. If your router has the 5GHz option, it’s much faster. Just keep in mind that 5Ghz has shorter range than 2.4Ghz.

Disconnect VPN unless you specifically need it for the meeting
Disconnect from VPN unless you specifically need it. VPN connections can reduce your connection speeds by as much as 50% and most cloud-based services like Zoom, Canvas, Google’s GSuite and Outlook do not require a VPN connection.

Power cycle (reboot) your modem and router frequently
Just like rebooting your computer, power cycling your home Wi-Fi equipment will almost always help improve performance.

Be certain the router is in a central part of the house, away from walls and electronics
Keeping your router in the middle of the house, higher off of the ground, away from electronics and other things with motors, and with as few doors and walls as possible, will give you the best possible speeds. Do not leave your Wi-Fi router in a closet, cubby or hidden away as it will greatly reduce the quality of service.

Take inventory of what online activities other house members and devices are using
If family and house members working and learning from home, it’s important to be mindful of what others are doing on the network during prime usage hours. Downloading large files will saturate a network connection as will streaming high quality (1080p / 4K) videos from popular services like YouTube, Netflix, Disney+.

Part Two: Solutions that usually cost money but offer the greatest Wi-Fi performance enhancement

Upgrade your internet speed
There is probably no better way to improve the Wi-Fi speed and experience of your home network than upgrading the speed of internet. This is especially so if there are numerous users within the household that are also regularly using Wi-Fi that were previously not (working from home or children taking on-line classes).

Upgrade to a DOCIS 3.1 modem
DOCIS 3.1 is the latest cable modem standard that allows full gigabit internet service. Gigabit internet is extremely fast as long as you have modem equipment to support it. To get the full advantage of these speeds, you’ll need the DOCIS 3.1 modem and a high-speed router that has 5Ghz speed. Note, many ISPs like Comcast also rent all-in-one units that feature both the modem and router in one.

Look for the higher end of the range of routers from bands such as Netgear, Linksys and ASUS to name a few.

Upgrade to a high end, modern Wi-Fi dual-band router with 5G speed
Consider upgrading to a very powerful router by a trusted brand. Some things to look for when buying a new router: dual band broadcast of 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz, very wide broadcast range that can easily cover your entire home, and ideally, even past your yard. Also look for a model that is easy to administer so you can update your own firmware regularly, change broadcast channels and even administer from your smartphone and remotely reboot if needed.

Look for the higher end of the range of routers from bands such as Netgear, Linksys and ASUS to name a few.