What The Tech: Your Wi-Fi Stinks

What The Tech: Your Wi-Fi Stinks

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When you think of home improvements you probably consider painting a room or new carpet for the bedroom. Another home improvement that the entire family will enjoy isn’t something you see with your eyes but with your devices.

Never has it been more important than having a good solid WiFi router in the home.

Noticeable slow speeds are common after the first of the year as families add more smart home devices and gadgets over the holidays. Every additional device connecting to the internet over Wi-Fi will slow speeds for every other device.

Think about it this way: the WiFi internet sends out data to your home through a pipe rather than through the air. A pipe can only fit a certain amount of data at the same time. If someone’s watching Netflix in one room while mom is working from home on her laptop and dad is in a Zoom meeting while someone else is playing a video game, that “pipe” has to limit the amount of data it provides by spreading out the bandwidth to all connected devices.

Amazon sells millions of Echo devices each Christmas along with laptops, gaming systems, vacuum cleaners, garage door openers and connected thermostats. As each device connects to the family WiFi, that pipe or router is being pushed to its limit. That’s probably why you see a movie on Netflix buffering.

If slow speeds are haunting your days, it might be time to upgrade your WiFi router. How do you know for sure?

Take a look at the router you have now. If it has 802 followed by a couple of letters (n or ac), your router is at least 6 years old and maybe 12. In 2019 the WiFi Alliance began re-naming routers, dropping for the most part the 802. names and updating to easier-to-understand numerical names such as WiFi 5 and WiFi 6. WiFi 6 is the latest iteration of routers and much faster than previous generations.

According to the alliance, WiFi 6 is about 3 times faster than the previous WiFi 5 but speed isn’t the most important feature for most families.

WiFi 6 is capable of spreading out data distribution to more devices at the same time.

WiFi 5 routers are cheaper and cost from just under $100 to over $200 while WiFi 6 routers start
at about $150 and go up to as much as $500. The size of your home is also an important consideration for which WiFi router you choose.

While you may only have 8-12 devices connected to your router now, some predict the average number will be as many as 50 within the next 2 years. If you’re having a lot of problems with slow WiFi speeds, it’s probably time to upgrade and future-proof your home connection with a better WiFi router.

It is important to note that while WiFi 6 is backward compatible and will work with any device connected to it, older computers, phones, and tablets are not capable of taking advantage of the faster speeds.

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