Why Your Wi-Fi Is Slow & What You Can Do About It.

4 years ago | by Chris O'Brien

In a day and age of instant gratification, hectic schedules and the urgency of streaming the latest release of your current binge series, the pain of a slow Wi-Fi is real – and we feel you. But what causes slow Wi-Fi, and what are some things you can do to make for faster speeds?

You’ve probably never noticed, but there’s wireless signals all around you, wherever you go, constantly passing through you. Signals come from things like your mobile devices, Wi-Fi routers, microwaves & more. Given there’s wireless signals all around us at all times, it’s no wonder our connection speeds can become affected – but what are the main culprits of Wi-Fi interference? We’re here to name and shame!

So picture that you’re in the office, ready to join a Skype meeting – or maybe you’ve just finished a hard day of work and you’re about to tuck into a movie, but something’s going wrong… Your Wi-Fi is broken or lagging. You’re failing to join that meeting. And your patience is being tested the more your movie keeps buffering. We’ve all experienced this kind of frustration, so we’re here to suggest a few things that might be causing your connection to be slower than it could be:

  1. Here’s another reason to hate your neighbours. Nearly every household or office has its own Wi-Fi network. This has the potential to create channel overlap, and is especially problematic in housing complexes, apartments, and office buildings that have many routers close by. Channel overlap is mostly an issue for routers that can only broadcast at 2.4GHz, and devices that can only receive a 2.4GHz wireless signal. This is because there are only 14 channels to transmit on, so two routers broadcasting on the same channel, at the same frequency, will interfere with each other. Thankfully modern routers can choose the best channels for you automatically, however it can pay off to explore better channels yourself (or get our help with this).
  2. What are your walls made of? Okay, grab your rulers. Just kidding – we don’t really want you to measure the thickness of your walls with a ruler – there’s an app for that. Anyway, thick walls can pose a problem for wireless networks, and unfortunately you can’t do much about the construction of your office or home, but you can plan ahead and position your router in an optimal spot, with little obstruction between you and your router. Troublesome materials when it comes to a good connection include concrete, metal, brick, stone, ceramic, and mirrors. Thinner partitions, such as those made of Gyprock, tend to be better for your signal. If positioning your router centrally just isn’t an option for you, you may want to try a Wi-Fi repeater which can expand your signal reach and multiply its strength, and if that’s still failing to provide you with a solid connection and reliable speeds, a wired connection may be your best bet for good internet access.
  3. How old is the device you’re experiencing slowness on? Some older devices may actually be slowing things down. Older devices might not support the latest WiFi protocols that enable higher speeds. The result is that the Wireless network is forced to go only as fast as the slowest guy on the network..your device. Consider upgrading to reap the benefits of higher speed.
  4. Is there a software update available on the device you’re using? As mentioned above, it may not be the internet that’s slow – it could be your device. If there’s a software update available, there’s probably a good reason for it, and not running the update can not only cause security issues (among others), but also lagging systems.
  5. Energy efficient windows are saving the world but destroying your Wi-Fi experience: Energy-saving windows are a smart move for minimising energy usage and keeping your home or office’s climate steady, but these windows are also known as Wi-Fi enemies. This is because these windows may include low-emissivity (low-E) coatings (very thin transparent metal), which as we know from the point on thick walls above, are counterproductive to Wi-Fi transmission. If you think this could be causing your issue with bad connection speeds, try moving your router away from your windows – it’s also important to note here that metallic blinds can create a similar issue with causing crappy speeds.
  6. Forewarning to all you fairy light lovers, I’m about to crush your souls (don’t worry – I’m just as destroyed as you are). A few years ago, a popular rumour spread about fairy lights hurting your Wi-Fi signal… The skeptics (and no doubt Christmas lovers) weren’t convinced – however it was found that there is some truth to the rumour. It’s not the visible light from fairy lights that affect your Wi-Fi connects, as the they don’t operate on the same frequency, but instead the electromagnetic radiation from the wires or LED electronics that are blocking your signal (*queue everyone Googling electromagnetic radiation from Christmas lights*). From what we understand about this, it’s not the greatest idea to hide your router behind your Christmas tree this year, but otherwise, this is unlikely to be the main culprit of any pain you experience with bad connections.

If you’ve tried everything and your Wi-Fi just isn’t stepping up its game, it may pay to look into a new provider. We specialise in providing businesses with reliable and fast internet connections of all kinds – simply get in touch with us through the enquiry button below to begin our straight forward process.

Are you sick of slow internet inconveniencing you, your staff and your business?

Let us provide you with a secure, reliable and fast solution.

Our team is ready to talk.