Having a poor Wi-Fi signal can be a real bummer. Thankfully, most people have plenty of options that can fix Wi-Fi issues. One of the best options is mesh routers. Before you make that upgrade, take a moment to see where your current Wi-Fi is failing you. From there you can develop a better solution.
First things first, run some speed tests to see your download and upload speeds. Once you have those numbers, compare them to the plan you have with your Internet Service Provider. Ookla's Speedtest (Android, iOS) or Netflix's Fast.com (Android, iOS) can help you here. Both will provide you with results on your download and upload speeds. Both are also very simple to use. If your speeds are dramatically different than what your service states you have, give your service provider a call.
Load a speed test app to your phone and start checking speeds around your home. This is the most basic troubleshooting you can do. Run a speed check at least three times to get a more accurate average of speed for that area. This will help you find the trouble spots, including ones you may not know about.
Now that you know where the trouble spots are, you can use an analyzer app to see what is happening. We recommend Wi-Fi Analyzer for Android. With most analyzer apps you will be able to Wi-Fi strength and channel usages. Wireless channels being used by multiple devices can cause issues with speed.
Another area to check is signal strength. This is the other culprit of wireless speeds, next to channel congestion. Signal strength is measured in dBm or decibel-milliwatts. The key is that lower negatives numbers are better than larger negative numbers. For a perfect connection, you will want -30 dBm. As long as the signal is around -60 dBm you should be fine. Anything greater than -80 dBm is bad.
While analyzing channel congestion, you might find some channels that have less activity than others. Keep in mind that 2.4GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi options have a different set of channels. Log into your router and make some adjustments. Most routers are set to automatically pick a channel, but they tend to all use the same channel. Because of this, neighborhood routers can start over lapping and cause congestion for that channel. 5GHz offers more channels than 2.4GHz, which helps with congestion. But, 5GHz does not have the same range as 2.4GHz.
In addition to switching channels on your router, you can reposition your router to help with signal strength. Ideally, you will want your router out in the open, not in a closet, and centrally located in your home. After a reposition, be sure to go around with your Wi-Fi analyzer and check to see how things improve.
Switching channels not enough? Or Cannot move your router to a better spot? Then it may be time to look into some additional hardware. Wi-Fi boosters or repeaters are still an option and are relatively cheap. Place these with in good range of your main router, and they will create an additional network for your devices to join. Your mileage with a booster or an extender will vary. These devices are not ideal for streaming services.
Another option are powerline adapters. These devices will take your network and send the signal through your house electrical system. This system tends to be more costly, but is a much better option. The reason for this is the extenders in this setup will have a hard line connection to your router.
One final option is a mesh networking system. This system uses multiple Wi-Fi routers setup across your home to juggle multiple devices on your network. These devices all act as one router, but because you have more than one the coverage in your home is better. Boosters and Extenders all acts as separate networks, with separate network names. Mesh networks eliminate that problem.
Earlier this year the Wi-Fi Alliance announced their latest certification for Wi-Fi systems: Wi-Fi Certified EasyMesh. This certification helps create a shared standard for extending Wi-Fi coverage throughout your home with the use multiple routers.
As manufacturers of routers adopt this standard, you will be able to setup a EasyMesh network in your home easily. The network converge will be seamless to you and your devices. Currently, most routers feature a mesh network capabilities, but they only really work with other routers by that same manufacture. This creates a lock-in to that manufacture.
Most people will notice that certain locations in their home will have spotty Wi-Fi from their home router. A mesh network will link multiple routers, that you place around your home, to help distribute your Wi-Fi connection. You do not need to run additional network cables with this setup. This is similar to a Wi-Fi extenders. The added benefit is that, unlike extenders, you do not have to deal with multiple Wi-Fi network names. The mesh will automatically connect your devices to the best signal, without you knowing.
EasyMesh will resolve the issue of locking your devices to one manufacture for your mesh system. The Wi-Fi Alliance has been working hard at creating standards for all of your network gear and help make sure they work how you expect them to. Instead of purchasing a certain brand, you can purchase any brand that is EasyMesh compatible and it will work. Do keep in mind, the routers all need to be EasyMesh certified. If one is not certified, then there is a good chance it will not work.
According to the Wi-Fi Alliance, EasyMesh will always monitor your network, load balancing data speed. It will even automatically link additional mesh routers to the network when you set them up. This is similar to how mesh networks work currently, but only for devices from the same company. EasyMesh will do this for all devices.
Additionally, EasyMesh devices will be future proof. Meaning that today's devices will be compatible with future devices. This is great for people who do not upgrade devices often. From what we found, routers need to support, at minimum, the 802.11n Wi-Fi protocol.
This is the area most people will be concerned about. Now, some manufactures have added Mesh network capabilities through firmware updates, but it's not clear if EasyMesh support can be added the same way. The other question is whether or not EasyMesh devices will cost more due to the functionality. Honestly, we would not be surprised if manufacturers use this as a reason to increase their prices.
Regardless, EasyMesh will make creating a home mesh network super simple solution for most people to setup. Based on the the product finder from the Wi-Fi Alliance page, no devices are certified yet. Certifications do not come easy, which helps ensure quality for the EasyMesh brand. We would expect to start seeing devices that are EasyMesh certified by the end of the year. We should also know more on whether current devices will eventually support EasyMesh too.