How to Improve Your WiFi: Most Asked Questions | Wyebot

How to Improve Your WiFi: Most Asked Questions

April 15, 2024

Our WiFi networks are critically important. When they stop working, even intermittently, it can be anywhere from mildly frustrating to downright catastrophic. At Wyebot, the center of our work is eliminating these issues and all network mysteries. In that spirit, we’re going to use this blog post to answer some of the most asked questions about WiFi networks.

What are the strongest WiFi signals?

This depends on the type of measurement you are using and the application you want to support. 

Signal strength can be described in two ways: RSSI (received signal strength indicator) and dBm (decibel milliwatts). RSSI indicates how well devices can hear the signal from an access point (AP). This measurement is expressed on a scale of 0 up to 255. However, every chipset manufacturer is allowed to define their own max value. Some may use 0-100, some may use 0-57, and some may go all the way to 255.. So, your possible maximum may be different than the business next door. One thing remains the same though: the higher the number, the better the signal.

When it comes to dBm, you’ll be looking at negative values. This means that the closer the number is to zero, the stronger the signal. Generally, we like to see values that range from -67dBm to -47dBm.

Signal strength is only part of the equation though. If you measure high signal strength, and yet have WiFi performance problems, you need to measure your noise level. Noise is any signal interference that doesn’t come from WiFi sources. It is measured in decibels (dB) from 0 to -120. The goal is to get as close to -120dB as possible.

Once you have your noise measured and your signal strength, you need to use them to get your Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR). This tells you how much WiFi signal is available compared to all the noise (other signals in the environment). You find SNR by taking your signal measurement and then subtracting your noise measurement from it. An example would be: Signal -77dBm minus noise -100dB = SNR 23dB.

Is SNR 23dB good or bad? It depends on what you’re trying to do. You’ll be fine if all you need to do is browse the web and send an email. However, if you want to use video applications, you’ll struggle. For that, you really need an SNR of 25dB-40dB.

Is it better to connect to 5GHz or 2.4GHz?

This depends on the type of device you want to connect and how close you are to an AP. The 2.4GHz frequency band actually supports connectivity from farther distances, albeit at a lower speed. 5GHz gives you faster possible speed, but at a shorter range.

Most people are going to connect to the 5GHz. After all, it offers faster speeds, more channels and, most of the time, less interference, which means more devices can connect and transmit at a time. However, if this frequency is overcrowded, people will report issues with speed and latency. In that case, you need to review channel allocation and AP deployment. It’s possible that the network will need to go through a redesign so that everyone can connect to the 5GHz and experience optimal connectivity.

The exception to this is when talking about IoT devices. Many of these devices can only connect to the 2.4GHz band. If they aren’t performing as desired, you can’t switch them to a different frequency. You’ll need to work with an analytics solution that can pinpoint the source of the issues: whether the cause is the device, the network, a nearby network, or something else.

What blocks WiFi signals the most?

The material that is hardest for a WiFi signal to penetrate is metal. If your signal has to move through metal doors, walls, shelving units, or other metallic objects, your WiFi signal will likely suffer. 

This doesn’t mean you have to remove all metal or only use a wired network. It means that you need to perform a detailed site survey to learn where to place APs in order to best mitigate any interference (from metal objects or otherwise). You should also work with an AI-powered network automation solution that will continuously monitor all network behavior and performance, and alert IT to issues. This way, IT knows immediately if the network design isn’t working (say, if items are moved around or many new devices have connected), and can take steps to quickly resolve the issue and get a business back on track.

Is WiFi 7 out yet?

WiFi 7 routers have been released, but they aren’t common. WiFi 7, also known as IEEE 802.11be Extremely High Throughput (EHT), is the latest WiFi standard. It was designed to deliver faster speeds, low latency, and support for congested environments, such as large venues and enterprises. It should make a difference for organizations that depend on hundreds or thousands of users live streaming at the same time, gaming, using AR or VR, or remotely downloading large amounts of data.

Is WiFi 6E better than WiFi 6?

WiFi 6E isn’t better than WiFi 6, but it is different. Both offer higher performance, lower latency, and faster data rates. However, WiFi 6E is the name for products that operate in the newly opened 6GHz wireless spectrum. 6GHz offers 14 additional 80MHz channels and 7 additional 160MHz channels, and only 6E devices can operate in this spectrum.

This means that this band will be less congested and offer less signal interference. The downside is that, as 6GHz operates at a higher frequency, it uses shorter wavelengths than the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. This means that it offers a shorter signal range and will experience greater degradation from obstructions such as dense walls and metal doors.

How can I improve my WiFi quality?

By and large, answering this question requires specific analytics and identified problems. What exactly do you want to improve? Speed? Availability? Latency? Do you have in-depth analytical insights that explain why your network performs poorly? If not, we recommend working with an AI-powered network automation solution that automatically identifies all problems, alerts IT, and proactively suggests resolutions.

Depending on the solution, they can provide all or some of the following to boost your WiFi quality and user experience:

  • Complete network visibility so there are no mysteries and nasty surprises
  • Proactive alerts so IT knows in real-time when something is wrong, often before end users are impacted
  • Continuous network tests to give IT confidence that everything is working as it should
  • Automated troubleshooting so IT teams can resolve problems quickly from any location at any time
  • Historical wireless traces to allow IT to see what occurred on the network at the packet-level, and to identify long-term health trends

How can I increase my WiFi speed?

If you want to increase your WiFi speed, there are a few things you can do. However, before you do any of them, do you know how much speed your network needs?

Almost everyone is surprised when we tell them that the maximum speed we see in frequently used real life applications is 20Mbps. That speed is necessary if you want to stream a 4K video. If you want to run a regular video application, send emails, browse the web, or upload or download documents, you will still experience great performance at a much lower speed.

If you still want to know how to increase your possible speed, you can:

  •  Reduce interference sources
  • Increase the minimum data rate allowed (assuming there is sufficient RF coverage for the higher data rates)
  • Upgrade your devices and infrastructure to a newer WiFi standard (i.e. move from WiFi 5 to WiFi 6 or 6E). It’s important to note that while newer standards boast higher maximum speeds, these speeds aren’t usually seen in real life applications. To learn more about this, check out our blog, “Breaking Down a Common Misconception: How Much Speed Does Your Enterprise Network Truly Need?”

However, you can make one of these changes, and not see any performance improvements if insufficient bandwidth isn’t the root cause of your user experience (UX) problems. This is why it is crucial to know the root cause of every issue on your network and the health of every connected device. This way you can implement the correct resolutions, and not spend thousands of dollars upgrading your network only to experience the same challenges.

Why is the WiFi so weak?

If you’ve got WiFi performance problems and/or weak signal strength, there are a few common culprits:

  • Less-than-ideal AP location
  • Outdated equipment
  • Insufficient bandwidth
  • Too many networks per AP
  • Unauthorized devices connecting to your network and “stealing” bandwidth (this is also a security risk and should be addressed ASAP)

To address the problem, you’ll first need to identify it. We recommend an AI-powered network automation solution that will automatically and proactively identify issues in real time and alert IT with the root cause and actionable resolutions.

To avoid these problems, here’s where we recommend focusing time, energy, and budget for a reliable WiFi network that supports all needs and won’t break the bank.

  1. Understand what processes and priorities your WiFi network must support as you make design decisions. This tells you which technologies to target and which aren’t needed.
  2. Utilize a consistent analytics solution to identify issues before users are impacted.
  3. Adopt historical automated analytics and vendor agnostic solutions to future-proof all networks.

More questions? Ask away

Talk to us! Our expert, all-human teams are standing by to answer your questions about how to transform business operations through WiFi network optimization. If you want to know more about AI-powered network automation, let’s schedule a demo or free trial of the Wireless Intelligence Platform™.