Mar 10, 2023

Troubleshooting your Wi-Fi connection

There is nothing quite like a slow, buffering internet connection to get you frustrated. And for good reason – in our connected world, a stable, reliable and fast internet connection is a work, school and lifestyle essential.

Technology and connectivity have become integrated into every aspect of our lives. We’re living in a world where reliable and fast internet connectivity is fundamental to us being able to access and use such technology – think security, CCTV and alarm systems, mobile phones and tablets, computers, banking, music and movie streaming services, e-commerce, gaming, online learning, online meetings and working from home – the list of applications and number of connected devices is seemingly endless. As we look to futureproof our connected lives, home networks are also getting more sophisticated as fibre internet rolls out to more and more suburbs. It is also one of the reasons why it is important to understand what the difference is between the ‘internet’ and your wi-fi connection at home, and the impact of the latter on the quality of your overall internet experience.

MetroFibre Networx, an open access fibre network operator (FNO) and Internet Service Provider (ISP) offers a step-by-step guide of all the important things that you need to know, and what the difference is between the internet connectivity versus Wi-Fi connectivity, and how to ensure that connectivity issues don’t leave you buffering…

What is Internet Connectivity?

When you purchase monthly internet services for your home, your ISP gives you all the physical equipment you need to connect your devices to the Internet. This includes a physical line such as a fibre optic cable that ends at the Termination Point (TP) / Fibre installation point and will connect your home to the ISP’s network. Inside your home, this physical fibre line is connected to an electronic device called an Optical Network Terminal (ONT). In some cases, this ONT also acts as your router, providing your Wi-Fi and physical ethernet/LAN cable connection. However, in most cases, the ONT is connected to a separate router with an ethernet cable. Once the router is installed in your home to provide you with your internet connection, there are two ways that you can connect your device such as a laptop, phone, tablet or TV to the router and internet – either with a physical ethernet/LAN cable from the router to your computer, or over Wi-Fi which is the most popular option.

What is Wi-Fi?

Wi-Fi is used as a term for wireless internet access. Wi-Fi is a localised network of devices that can communicate without the need for physical connections and cables between the devices. Wi-Fi enabled routers are used to broadcast your fibre internet wirelessly within your home and you have the capability to connect directly to your router with a physical ethernet cable.

The quality of this Wi-Fi connection can make or break your internet experience, so ensuring that you have the best Wi-Fi signal strength is important.

MetroFibre Networx offers seven convenient tips to get the best out of your Wi-Fi:

  1. How old are your devices connecting to your Wi-Fi?

Outdated hardware, especially with computers and mobile devices, is a well-known limiting factor. The age of devices connecting to the router can also be a limiting factor. Also, your router’s firmware may need an occasional update – your ISP will be best positioned to help guide you through this process if needed.

Your ISP may also update your older router hardware to keep up to date with the latest technologies (and futureproof your connectivity). However, if you don’t have the latest equipment, you will not be able to take advantage of these updates until you upgrade your equipment.

  1. Restart your router when you change services

Rebooting your router by switching it off and waiting for 30 seconds before turning it on again is often required when you change to a service that has a different speed, or your ISP changes your service speed. Keep an eye out for announcements from your ISP when this happens.

  1. Move disruptive appliances away from your router

Appliances such as microwaves, baby monitors, cordless phones and even other routers can broadcast signals which actively congest your Wi-Fi spectrum. If you have any of these appliances positioned nearby your router, try moving them away and see if there’s an improvement.

  1. Location is key

The positioning of your router inside your home or office can impact your signal strength. For most fibre users your Termination Point (TP) is installed in the most convenient installation location, in some cases before you move in. It can be quite costly to get your TP point moved, so rather consider using a mesh Wi-Fi system to get the Wi-Fi signal throughout your house. Mesh Wi-Fi is a system that eliminates ‘dead’ zones, providing uninterrupted Wi-Fi throughout your home, enabling your devices in your network to have faster speeds through a wider coverage and a more reliable connection. Unlike Wi-Fi range extenders which broadcast Wi-Fi from a single point, multiple mesh devices can be chained to create a network of devices with minimal drop in Wi-Fi performance. It is not advisable to chain range extenders in such a manor, and usually results in a broken Wi-Fi network. Mesh Wi-Fi systems have multiple access points or nodes, which means a more efficient wireless network that provides a strong signal no matter where you are in your home.

Also, you’ll want your most extensively used devices like the TV or computer as close to the router or mesh node as possible. As a point of interest here, the 2.4Ghz frequency can cover a wider area but is more prone to interference from appliances and speed drops, and also operates at a lower speed. 5Ghz, on the other hand, provides better speeds at close range but isn’t great at wide-range and suffers from interference from walls. Use 2.4Ghz for wide-range areas of your home and 5Ghz near bandwidth-intensive devices. Remember that the Wi-Fi signal becomes weaker the further it needs to travel, which is called path loss. The construction material used in the building also has an effect – wood and glass have little effect on the Wi-Fi signal, while concrete, brick and metal are more problematic.

  1. Consider using wired connections

You will find that video streaming and gaming are data-intensive and may require more bandwidth and lower latency (the time it takes for a signal to reach a server/s), causing other services and devices to lag. As more users connect to the Wi-Fi, you may notice periodic lag depending on the number of Wi-Fi users and their online usage needs. A wired ethernet cable connection is always more consistent than the Wi-Fi signal from the same router. For bandwidth intensive activities like gaming and high-definition streaming, consider using a wired connection instead. Also, by making use of a cable you will be redirecting traffic from the Wi-Fi router and reducing some of the Wi-Fi traffic.

  1. When the lights go out

With load shedding in full swing, it is worth noting that it may impact your provider’s ability to keep you connected to the web. All MetroFibre POPs are equipped with battery backups meaning that when there is an electrical outage and your ONT/router has power through a medium like a Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) then your internet connectivity will remain online. Consider installing a UPS to keep your connectivity active during load shedding.

  1. Get in touch with the professionals

If all else fails and you’re still experiencing issues with your connectivity – contact your ISP to assist. Technicians are familiar with the challenges so they can help you troubleshoot and find a workable solution.