What is WiFi?
Many devices can use wireless (or Wi-Fi) e.g., personal computers, video-game consoles, smartphones, some digital cameras, tablet computers and various other devices. These can connect to a network resource such as the Internet via a wireless network access point. Such an access point (or hotspot) has a range of about 20 meters indoors and a greater range outdoors. Wireless access points can be used to cover a small area such as a room using just a single access point or something as large as a whole city, this is done by using multiple overlapping access points, allowing users to roam through as if they were on a single wireless network.
What do all the letters mean? A, B, G, N, AC… air conditioning?
Wireless like a lot of other things has to conform to certain standards, this is mainly used to avoid interference between different devices. Safety is a big factor in this. If these standards didn’t exist a wireless devices could potentially interfere with airplane communications or other such communications. Most new wireless access point are either wireless-N or AC, in most case they can also use the A, B and G, but because these are older standards they are being phased out as well as being slower.
My wireless access point is in the next room, but my connection keeps dropping out…
Wi-Fi is far from an exact science, many things can interfere with the signal strength. The more signal strength you have the faster and the more stable the connection. Walls will affect Wi-Fi signal strength differently depending on what their composition. Wi-Fi will penetrate plaster and stud walls far easier that a solid concrete or brick wall. However it’s not just walls that affect the Wi-Fi’s signal strength, everyday objects like books and furniture can affect Wi-Fi, but probably the biggest culprits are other electronics, which emit radio waves that can interfere with Wi-Fi signals.
What about security?
In terms of security there are various options, all of which can be put in place at the same time. The most common option is to use a password to encrypt your WiFi. This locks down your network using the password as the key, and unless you have the password you won’t be able to connect to the network or the internet. There are different encryption types (WEP, WPA-TKIP, WPA2-AES) with the later versions being more secure and allow for faster network speeds.
The second option is to hide you network, it’s difficult to crack a wireless if you don’t know it exists. To connect to a wireless network that is hidden, you must have knowledge of the wireless’ name and any password it may have.
Another option is to only allow certain devices onto the network. The wireless access point is given a list of devices that are allowed access to the network, if your device isn’t on the list, you can’t access it. These are the most common ways of securing wireless networks. There are other ways that businesses and government entities may use. have knowledge of the wireless’ name and any password it may have.
What are my options?
Even though WiFi has come a long way since its inception, the best option is still to plug your devices directly into your network wherever possible. It is the most secure and most reliable connection method and it also helps in reducing the load on the wireless network. Regardless of speed and range issues, a WiFi router can only handle a limited number of WiFi devices simultaneously, so more devices you have wired in to your network means better WiFi performance in general. In the case where plugging in isn’t available (phones, lack of sockets, etc.) just follow the guidelines below.
- Make sure you have a current router taking advantage of the latest in WiFi technology. Ideally you would want a wireless N or AC access point as they have a stronger signal and the transfer speeds are superior to the older A, B or G.
- Configure your WiFi network to have some level of protection from unwanted users. Without this you could find that your monthly download usage is being used by your neighbours or that your data is being looked though on your computers. In general, a simple password using WPA2 encryption is more than sufficient.
- Place your WiFi router in a central location in your house / business in an area free of obstacles. WiFi travels better outwards and upwards than it does downwards so it’s better not to place the router too high up to avoid reception issues. The closer a device is to the WiFi router, the better its WiFi strength, reliability and speed will be.
- If the signal still isn’t strong enough in locations where you require the wireless, a WiFi repeater / extender may need to be installed, however these have their limitations as they receive the original signal and then amplify it. If the repeater is getting a bad signal, then it will amplify a bad signal. The more effective and reliable option is to run a cable from your router to a location where you want Wi-Fi access, and then install an additional WiFi access point (WAP), or multiple if needed.
If you need any help installing your WiFi devices or reconfiguring an existing setup, just give us a call at Restart on (03) 9528 4200.