How to optimize your Wi-Fi network?

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Aina Martin
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Laptops, smartphones, tablets, printers, speakers, televisions, connected objects ... the list of devices that connect to the wireless network in homes is growing a little more each day. Depending on the number of devices connected simultaneously and the configuration of its home, the Wi-Fi coverage of Internet boxes may be too limited. Here are some simple methods to optimize the range and speed of the Wi-Fi signal.



 


©Netgear

Position the box correctly

The range of the Wi-Fi signal of the boxes is sometimes too limited to surf properly in certain rooms of the house, on the balcony or even in the garden. The location of the box in the home can play an important role. Ideally, it should be installed as much in the center of the accommodation as possible or at the intermediate level if it has several floors. The box must be placed high (1 meter or more) on a piece of furniture or a shelf, in a space that is not cluttered and open so as to promote the diffusion of waves horizontally and vertically. 



Load-bearing walls, cupboard doors, or even metal structures are all obstacles that may interfere with or even block the signal. Wi-Fi technology is also susceptible to interference from other devices such as microwave ovens, wireless phones and audio systems, halogen lights, etc. These devices operate on the same frequency bands (2,4 and 5 GHz) and can in some cases interfere with Wi-Fi reception. The best solution is to keep the box as far as possible from other electrical devices. The simple act of moving a box can significantly improve the quality of a wireless connection.


© They

Change the Wi-Fi channel

Wi-Fi wireless technology uses frequencies set in two bands to avoid interference with other equipment as much as possible. The 2,4 GHz frequency band which generally includes channels numbered from 1 to 13 - the number of channels may differ depending on the country and the network equipment (boxes, routers, etc.) - is the most widespread and is often activated by default on Internet boxes. The 5 GHz, divided into 4 channels (36, 40, 44 and 48), offers a smaller range and is more sensitive to obstacles, but it is able to deliver a better flow. When the home's Wi-Fi network is on the same channel as that of the neighbors, this can affect the quality and stability of the signal, which is called congestion. In this case, all you have to do is go to the administration interface of the Internet box (or of its wireless router) to view the occupancy rate of each channel in order to switch to the one that is less congested. A manipulation that it is not always obligatory to carry out, however, since some recent boxes and routers are able to change channels depending on the size.



To go further, there are also free applications such as Acrylic WiFi HeatMaps (Windows), or WiFi Analyzer (Android). They provide precise information on network congestion and indicate the best channels to select in the two frequency bands (2,4 and 5 GHz). This method can breathe new life into a connection as long as you regularly make sure you're always on the best channels possible. Be careful though, the congestion of canals is above all a matter of collective housing, in which capturing more than a dozen (or even many more) networks is commonplace. In single-family homes and particularly in the countryside, it is rare for the reception of neighboring networks to have an influence on the speed of home Wi-Fi.


WiFi Analyzer_Android

Secure your Wi-Fi network

Strengthening the security of a Wi-Fi network does not boost its performance, but avoids possible intrusions from neighbors or other unscrupulous individuals. A multitude of applications now offer the possibility of breaking into a poorly protected Wi-Fi network with little technical knowledge. When configuring Wi-Fi, we strongly recommend that you select the WPA2 security protocol (with AES or TKIP encryption), instead of WEP, which is much less reliable and yet activated by default at many box providers. 'Internet access. In this way, information exchanged over the network such as the password becomes almost inviolable. Other important rules: modify the network name (SSID) as well as the Wi-Fi key provided by default by the operator via the administration interface of the box. 



It is possible to mask and / or personalize the SSID, taking care not to indicate any personal or material information (example: "mabox75"). Also choose a complex password of at least 10 characters. The longer a password, the harder it is to crack. One of the tips for easily remembering a long password is to make a simple sentence such as: "Where are my 20 years old?" ". Even if there is no such thing as zero risk, these few basic rules guarantee a better level of security.


Choice of security protocol on the administration interface of a Freebox.

Install a Wi-Fi repeater 

It is not always possible to effectively position your box or router in the center of a home, the number of telephone or communication sockets being limited. So, when all the rooms in a home cannot be fully covered by the Wi-Fi network of a box or a router, the solution is to be found on the repeaters side. Repeaters provide the ability to extend network coverage to remote rooms where the Wi-Fi signal is weak. This device, which plugs into a power outlet, picks up the box's Wi-Fi network and repeats the signal in order to extend network coverage. For this, it must be placed in a place where it still receives the signal correctly. Most models also offer a visual placement aid, making it possible to ensure that the capture of the original signal is optimal. Easy to install, this type of product does not accelerate the speed of the wireless connection, but significantly increases the range of Wi-Fi in remote areas. Manufacturers like Netgear, TP-Link or even Devolo offer models at a price of between 20 and more than 100 €.

Netgear Nighthawk EX7300

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©Devolo

Advanced Wi-Fi systems are coming


Wi-Fi systems like the Netgear Orbi make it easy and efficient to take advantage of a strong Wi-Fi network.

In recent months, a new solution has also started to emerge among the various network equipment manufacturers: Wi-Fi systems operating in mesh. Unlike repeaters, it is not a question of using the existing signal to extend the coverage, but simply of replacing the connectivity of an existing box or router with a more efficient and modular system. These systems thus consist of a transmitter base which, in addition to broadcasting Wi-Fi, communicates via a dedicated high-speed Wi-Fi link (often 4 streams on the 5 GHz band) to one or more satellites arranged in the rest. housing. Base and satellites communicate continuously together so as to offer a wide, meshed network. A single network is also seen by the devices connecting to it and the throughput is optimal in each room since the bandwidth does not have to be halved (transmission / reception) as with conventional repeaters. Netgear was one of the first to offer such a product with Orbi, followed by the Google Wifi system or more recently the Devolo Gigagate.

Use a hybrid powerline kit

Powerline kits are also a simple solution for connecting equipment to the Internet via electric current. Some manufacturers offer models called hybrids, combining Powerline and Wi-Fi. A practical solution for routing a wireless connection in an area of ​​the house where the signal is too weak to install a repeater, for example. Depending on the model, they can optionally create a second access point or operate transparently and extend the existing wireless network (clone mode). Their prices vary from € 50 for an entry-level model like the Devolo dLAN 500 WiFi to over € 100 for the TP-Link TL-WPA8630P.

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