A wireless network is the glue in many modern homes, linking smart TVs, game consoles, tablets, computers, and even kitchen appliances. Poor network performance prevents devices from working as intended, leaving users frustrated by buffering messages when they stream movies or annoyed because the PC regularly drops off the network. By considering the factors that affect the performance of the wireless router, users can take steps to improve the situation.
1. Outdated Technology
Having outdated technology at the heart of a home network causes a range of problems, including slow data speeds, choppy signals, and insufficient range, resulting in "black spots" around the house. In most cases, simply updating the Wi-Fi router rectifies the situation.
Original wireless routers from the early 2000s used the 802.11b wireless standard, which provided speeds up to 22 Mbps. Since then, technology has evolved to meet high-use demands, such as streaming movies, online gaming, and downloading large files. In 2014, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) approved the super-fast 802.11ac wireless standard, capable of speeds up to 3,200 Mbps.
Updating a Router
Many Internet service providers offer a free wireless router as part of the service and may periodically provide updated routers or new software to improve a router's efficiency. Alternatively, users can
buy a router
; however, a new wireless router may not improve performance when used in conjunction with old devices. For example, an old computer is unlikely to use the 802.11ac standard, which means it cannot benefit from the new router's fast data speeds.
Wireless routers have limited range, and devices placed on the fringes of that range often experience a patchy signal or have problems finding and connecting to the network. Routers using the 802.11ac standard offer the best connectivity at the farthest range, making them the ideal choice for large homes and offices.
If the distance between devices and the router is causing a problem, users can update the router or purchase a
range extender antenna
. Alternatively, they can reconfigure the layout of the network, moving devices closer or repositioning the router in a more central location.
Many things have the potential to interfere with a wireless network, creating patchy signals and impeding data transfer. Signals have difficulty penetrating walls and insulation material. Other devices, such as a neighbor's router, the furnace, or a washing machine, may cause additional interference.
A simple solution for reducing interference is repositioning the router in a more open part of the house. Alternatively, consumers can purchase a beamforming router. Rather than broadcasting a signal that bounces around until it finds a device, beamforming technology concentrates the signal and aims it directly at the device. The high-end
offer this functionality, greatly improving signal strength and reach.
A network has a finite amount of bandwidth, and if there are too many devices or applications connected to the network, they compete for the available bandwidth, resulting in slow data speeds and overall poor performance. Many routers offer dual-band or
technology, which frees up bandwidth by offering multiple channels for spreading the workload.
Simple Bandwidth Fixes
Easing the load on a home network's bandwidth does not have to involve upgrading a router. Simple solutions include disconnecting devices that are not in use, particularly products that usually connect to the network automatically, such as smart TVs. Users should also ensure their connections are password protected so neighbors cannot access the network and use up bandwidth.
5. Internet Service Provider Speed
issues may not be the culprit slowing network speeds; it may actually be a result of the service offered by the Internet service provider (ISP). Some contracts provide lower connection speeds in exchange for less expensive monthly charges. If this is the case, users need to contact their ISP to discuss upgrading to a different connection plan.
How to Buy Wireless Routers on eBay
Keeping the modern home running efficiently requires a good wireless network, and that means buying a good wireless router. It is possible to find a wide range of Wi-Fi routers and other networking devices on
using the main search box located on any page. Simply type a keyword phrase describing what you want, and then refine the list of results using filters. Always read
descriptions carefully, paying particular attention to the wireless networking standard and range.