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How to get a Better WiFi Signal?


Getting a Better WiFi Signal

WiFi Software & Apps

During the above tutorial I refer to different software apps and relevant links, here they are.

There is no such thing as the perfect WiFi. However, there are things you can do to get a better WiFi signal. So how do you get a better WiFi Signal? Well the first step is to to check the speed you should be getting.

Other Tutorials

Checking what WiFi speed should you be getting

When you signed up to an internet service provider you entered into a service contract. You give your provider money, and they provide connection to the internet at a certain speed. So what speed should you be getting? First log into your account then you'll have the option to see what speed you should be getting. Below you can see an example of what I should be getting with BT.

How to get better WiFi Connection BT Speeds

As you can see from above I should be getting from 72 - 73 Mbps download speed and 17 - 18 Mbps upload speed. Both of these are important when it comes to Zoom. The download speed so that you can see other peoples video, and the upload speed so that they can see yours.

Note that I get a £20 refund if I don't get the speeds they promise. So I must remember to check them every now and then. Although, having chatted to a BT service engineer, have since discovered that the rate needs to be consistantly low over a month.

Test your internet speed from a hard wired connection

The next thing to do is to plug your router into your computer using the CAT5 cable that comes with your router. Only by doing this can you be sure that you are seeing the fastest speed that's coming into your home. You can use the Speedtest or similar software but try to use the app. This way your speedtest will be that little bit more accurate. Now it's true when I looked online I was surprised at how many bad reviews Speedtest received. However, when I looked more closely I discovered that the 1 star reviews were mainly because of the difference between the browser version and the app version so make sure you use the app version.

Test you WiFi connection

Now it's time to test your WiFi connection. Again, use the Speedtest or similar app, not the website, What you're looking for is the lowest ping and highest upload and download speeds possible. You may need to wander around your home to see where the best signal is. Of course, the nearer to the router you are, the more stable your connection will be.

The Difference in Speedtest Software

In my travels I have found that certain people prefer difference software to test your speed. For me, it would make sense to test your speed with a 3rd party application. But maybe that's just my paranoia with biases. I mean if BT are providing your internet it would make sense that you would also compare your speed with another app.

Speedtest App Update

Since writing this I was suggested by a BT engineer to use the Google Speed Test option. If you type speed test into google you will see the following:

Google speed test

Here is how the Google Speed test looks.

Google speed test running

Testing your internet speed with a speed test to get better wifi signal

Your speed test will return 3 results:

Ping or Latency

Here is where your internet might cause the majority of problems in Zoom. Your latency or ping is the reaction speed of your connection. Basically how quickly your computer receives an answer when information is sent. Imagine your computer talking to another computer, the higher the latency, the longer it takes to receive an answer. Sort of like having a conversation with someone who takes a really long time to reply to what you just said, sort of:

Dad: Son, what have you done now?
Son: .........
Dad: I'm waiting for an answer

The Dad (Your Computer) might be superfast but the Son (The Exchange) takes ages to replay. Not that you're computer has necessarily done anything wrong, it's just that it takes ages for it to get the other computer response. For Zoom the lower the latency the better. Anything under 20 milliseconds is fantastic and if you're getting nowhere near that then you should turn off anything that is using the internet on your machine. The less devices using the internet the lower the latency. So if you find that you Zoom sessions are jittery and freezing often then ensure that the only app that's using the internet is Zoom.

Download Speed

This is what most people worry about. However, with Zoom you really only need a minimum amout of download speed. Of course if you're watching Netflix while playing Fortnite with the rest of the family also using Zoom calls on the same connection, you're going to have problems. However, in that case, your download speed will be the least of them.

Upload Speed

Now you may wonder why you would need upload speed. Well if you think about it, Zoom needs to upload your video as well as download the video of your participants. So if your upload speed isn't upto scratch you may find that you freeze on your participants computers.

It's probably a good idea to test your internet speed on two or three apps then choose the average. You'll find that your internet speed will vary each time you test so don't worry if the results seem slightly different.

To split router bands or not to split bands

Bet you didn't know that your router has 2 bands? No, not elastic bands. Or musical bands. So what do I mean?

2.4ghz Band 5ghz Band
Old New
Cluttered Spacious
Lot's of Interferance Lot Less Interferance
Works furtther from the Router Router needs to be nearby

The older 2.4ghz has been around for years and is the one that most people use and herein lies the problem. You see, the 2.4ghz is not only used by WiFi routers, it is also used by a plethora of other devices including:

  • Baby monitors
  • Garage door openers
  • Microwaves
  • Wireless Microphones
  • Radio Controlled Toys

The list goes on and on as this page, which gives an extraordinary amount of detail, shows.

So what does that mean for you? Well, if you can, you want to split your router into 2 bands and swich to the 5ghz band. If you want to know more about the 5ghz band, who regulates it and why it is necessary then this Ofcom PDF will give you many nights of late reading.

How to split your router into 2 bands?

If you're now convinced that you should be using 5ghz what should you do to make sure that you're taking advantage of it.

Access your Router Settings

First you will need to access your router settings. These can be accessed through your browser. Have a look at the back of your router and you should see a number:
(Some internet service providers make this easy by providing a little card you can remove to make it easier for you to read)

Type this number into your browser and you should see a screen like this:

How to get a better WiFi Signal

Now that you have access to your router settings, you can go about changing them. So click on wireless.

Look for an option to change settings. On my BT router you can find the change settings button in the top right corner.

How to get a better WiFi  change settings button on router

Your router at this point will usually ask for your admin password, this you will find on the back of your router, along with the IP address you used earlier.

getting the best wifi signal router admin password screenshot

Type your password in and click OK.

You will now be able to split your router into 2 bands. 2.4ghz and 5ghz. Look for the button that allows you to do that. In my case the button is on the right, as can be seen below:

get better wifi signal split router bands screenshot

Now have a look at the names of your router bands noting which one of them is the 5ghz one, maybe writing it down.

Click on the Save button.

Now connect to the 5ghz network connection and see if that improves your WiFi connection.

Connect to 5ghz to get a better WiFi signal

You can see above that I've connected to my 5ghz connection. So as long as I'm not too far from my router I get a much better, smoother and reliable connection giving me a better Zoom experience.

So there you have it! Hopefully these tips will help you to have a smoother internet connection helping you to get the best out of Zoom. Of course there is no such thing as a perfect internet connection. BT, for example, offer a service status page where you can check if the service in your local area has an issue. If there is an issue then all you can do is wait and ask for a refundif the disruption has gone on for a while.