To help promote information and understanding about Wi-Fi, we spoke to one of our top engineers about some frequently asked questions regarding Wi-Fi.
What’s the difference between internet & Wi-Fi?
This is a common misconception; many people refer to their internet connection as Wi-Fi. An internet connection is a way that your home or business actually receives its connection to the internet. The difference is that you can plug in a device to gain an internet connection. Whereas Wi-Fi is just how the internet connection is shared using wireless technology. Wi-Fi is also a way of wirelessly connecting devices together. For example, your smart thermostat at home connects over Wi-Fi instead of a cable to your router. This is so the router can share the internet connection wirelessly.
How can my internet be working if my Wi-Fi isn’t?
Whereas the internet connects perfectly fine over a physical connection. The Wi-Fi may not be working for a number of reasons, such as:
- The Wi-Fi antennas on your router may not be working properly so the Wi-Fi signal is not transmitting properly,
- The settings on your router may be incorrect,
- You may be accidentally using the wrong password or an old password which has been updated,
- The Wi-Fi on an individual device doesn’t work. i.e. it won’t connect to your smartphone but will connect to your laptop.
Why will my Wi-Fi work if my internet isn’t?
This is because Wi-Fi is just a way to transmit the signal wirelessly. For instance, in your home, if you use a home server which stores your files on it, that you access it on your laptop if your internet goes down, your laptop may still connect wirelessly to your plugged into the home server. This doesn’t require an internet connection as all of the devices are locally connected to your network. (This network forms what is known as a LAN or Local Area Network)
This is similar to Bluetooth with the difference being that Wi-Fi covers wider distances and areas to Bluetooth and that Bluetooth allows you to connect two devices to each other, whereas Wi-Fi allows you to connect between multiple devices at once.
How can I test my internet speed?
There are a few ways to test your internet connection, we recommend that you turn off all devices where possible and use one physical device which you test your speed on. (This can be a computer, laptop, smartphone or tablet)
Ideally, you would want something that you can plug into your Router with a network cable. You can then visit websites like www.fast.com or www.speedtest.net which you can reach through your web browser. These can tell you your upload and download speed as well as who your internet provider is.
What internet speed should I have?
This depends on what you want to do with your internet and where you are. Internet connection speeds can be determined by a number of things, one being where your home or business is located.
However, there are different ways of connecting to the internet and there are different services. Obviously, everybody wants the fastest speed that they can get, but often you want to look at your upload speed along with your download speed. For instance, homes which use a CCTV system, your download speed might not be as important as your upload speed. This is what allows you to view your cameras on your smartphone. This is because the upload speed will determine the quality image you can see from your cameras.
For instance, if you are a family of 4 or 5 and you do a lot of video streaming and emailing, or online shopping, the video streaming is going to be what gets the demand on your internet connection, as well as things like online gaming. For these sorts of tasks, you will want the highest download speeds possible. A family like this would want to look for what we call “fibre to the cabinet”. This can get download speeds of around 60-70mbs on average.
What we can do, and we have done in the past for clients who have had a limited internet speed, is install a solution to limit the speed that a gaming console can use. This allows the internet capacity to be spread more evenly.
Why is it called Wi-Fi?
Despite the common misconception, Wi-Fi doesn’t stand for Wireless Fidelity but is, in fact, a trademarked phrase used to identify a specific radio frequency.
How do I know if my Wi-Fi is good enough?
One sign that your Wi-Fi isn’t good enough is that when you’re streaming videos online and you’re constantly seeing the video buffer, or the video stops and starts as it tries to catch up with where you’re up to, or the image looks pixelated. Another sign is that you’re constantly having to wait for websites to load on your computer.
We can always help out and do a test for you, even from our office we can test to see what speed you should be capable of getting just by giving us your line number and postcode. You can then compare this to the speed you are getting using the websites we mentioned above. If these don’t match up we can then investigate why, and look into steps we can take to improve this for you.
In some cases, this can be as simple as you accidentally being on an old internet package with your service provider, and you just need to make a phone call to upgrade to get a faster connection and potentially even save money.
How do I get my Wi-Fi to cover all of my home?
This is a very common question we get asked. Depending on the size of the home and the nature of the construction there are different solutions. For instance, in smaller homes, a powerful router with great built-in Wi-Fi is all that’s needed. But when we look at Wi-Fi covering a home, we don’t just look at how big the home is, how far the Wi-Fi needs to travel, or the construction of the building, but also the number of wireless devices which will need to be connected at once.
Unfortunately, when you receive your free router from your internet service provider, in our experience, almost every free router does not do the job to cover the whole home or all the devices simultaneously. Rather than just upgrading the router, we install a solution which allows for seamless Wi-Fi coverage across the house. These may be wireless access points which are wired back to the router. So rather than the router being in one place, having to transmit a wireless signal over the whole home, these wireless access points would be put in strategic positions throughout the home. This will form one blanket coverage, providing you with a seamless connection.
Whilst many people wish to use the simple plugin wireless range extenders, we’ve found that you can end up having multiple Wi-Fi signals to connect to. This is because your wireless device won’t know that there’s a stronger signal next to it. This means you will have to manually change which signal you are connected to, despite it all being under one internet connection.
Furthermore, whilst the signal range seems to improve, the overall internet speed degrades with each one that you plug in. Whereas the wireless access points we recommend, form one seamless consistently fast network.
What are the strangest places you’ve had to improve the Wi-Fi?
In terms of strange places, we more and more often have to improve the Wi-Fi at peoples front doors. This is due to the rise of wireless smart doorbells which need a strong signal.
Another strange place that we had to improve Wi-Fi is in and around someone’s utility room. This is because the client wanted to connect a smart plug to their tumble dryer, so it turns off at night.
How do I know how fast my Wi-Fi is?
This can depend on the device that you are connecting through. Whilst your router might be capable of so many hundreds of megabytes per second; your smartphone, laptop, tablet or TV are each capable of different speeds. The first thing is to work out what’s transmitting the Wi-Fi. Is it the router, a plugin range extender or a wireless access point. The specifications of that device will tell you how fast it can transmit or boost your Wi-Fi throughout your home or business. Depending on the device you’re using you may get varying speeds as different devices are capable of receiving different speeds.
If you have any other questions or enquiries about Wi-Fi, please either call us on 0161 740 7400 or email us at [email protected].