What Influences Your Home Internet And Wifi Experience
Over the next few articles, we will discuss what influences your home internet and wifi experience. Today we will look at the Modem/Router in your home:
The modem/router in your home which provides the wi-fi service
The modem/router is a key component in determining the quality of your internet service
The modem/router is often out of sight and hidden away, ‘sight unseen’ and all but forgotten about. People do not realise the critical nature of the modem/router and the role it plays in delivering a good user experience.
Most people readily jump at the opportunity of a free modem, as these are often offered by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) when you sign up for your Broadband Services.
While this appears like an impressive deal, the modems that the ISP provide for free, are not the top of line modems in the market. The ISP is giving away the modem often in return for a term contract.
In most cases, your modem/router also delivers the WI-FI service in your house.
Different modems deliver different strengths of WI-FI service, and the industry release updated wireless standards over time. With each wireless standard release, performance, coverage, speed, and connectivity are improved.
Another consideration is the frequency bands the WI-FI operates on. Some modem/routers are single band, but most modem/routers today are dual-band operating multiple channels. There are also options of tri-band (triple-band modems).
Multiple bands help avoid WI-FI congestion, especially in high-density housing areas – eg apartment complexes, where there can be literally hundreds of modem/routers in range, creating what is known as channel contention, which seriously deteriorates your user experience.
We refer to the current wireless networking standard in the large majority of NZ homes today as IEEE 802.11ac. This replaced the older IEEE 802.11bg standard.
A new standard has emerged in 2020- NZ IEEE 802.11ax. There are limited supplies of these modems, but we would expect these to be mainstream by early 2021. They also refer to this as WI-FI 6.0.
The advantage of this new standard in modem/routers is the ability to handle a higher number of wireless devices under load.
WI-FI 6.0 modem/routers are just starting to appear in retail stores now, but ISP’s are not yet offering these modems as free ‘giveaways’.
The quality and standard of the modem/router can make an enormous difference to your WI-FI experience in your home, and can also be the ‘weakest link’ in your service, especially where you have UFB fibre to the house.
It is important to appreciate the modem/router is not necessarily the answer to all or any of the issues you are experiencing.
We do not recommend you race out and buy the latest and greatest new modem/router and assume this will address all your issues.
Positioning of the Modem/Router
First, talk to an AB Electrical Internet/WI-FI expert and we will help clarify what may be the cause of your frustrations and what is the best solution.
In the modern home today, there are WI-FI demands in almost every room in the house, as today we have mobile devices that we use throughout the house.
AB Electrical can provide free guidance and advice before Chorus begins the UFB build.
The challenge some homes have is that the modem is located in a position which results in poor service in various parts of the house.
Several factors influence Wi-FI signal, including:
- Position of the modem/router relative to where service is required
- Structure of the building – in particular the construction materials used
- Quality of the modem/router
If you are on an ADSL/VDSL internet service, then your modem/router must connect to a telephone jackpoint in the house. With a filter on the jack point you are best to connect to the most central location and this can also share a phone on the same jackpoint.
With UFB Fibre, the modem/router needs to connect via an Ethernet cable to the ONT (Optical Network Termination Unit) as installed by Chorus. This is where the location of the ONT becomes very important, and it is critical that this is agreed with the Chorus techs when the ONT install is being planned.
We have seen many instances where the ONT is in a far corner of the house, and often in the garage. The garage is often at the other end of the house from the lounge and is a place where WI-FI is not required. The garage is often the default location as it is closest point to the street or in a new home the structured cabling hub is sometimes located in the garage. This frequently results in a very poor user experience in other parts of the house.
With structured cabling, the wonderful news is that there are some options for you and the modem can be relocated to a better position where the Ethernet port from the Hub terminates. This will give you much more flexibility and deliver a better WI-FI experience.
The other alternative is that AB Electrical can deploy WI-FI boosters and/or WI-FI extenders to other locations in the house. The best deployment is where there is structured cabling in place and the additional devices (which provide localised WI-FI service) can connect back to the modem/router over Ethernet cabling.
If there is no structured cabling, there are still options to provide WI-FI services to other parts of the house.
The construction materials your home is made of will impact WI-FI service. Concrete and steel are not friends of WI-FI. Homes constructed predominantly of wood are much better for WI-FI services. Often, we need to deploy a WI-FI booster in order to overcome constraints of steel and concrete construction.
Next Article: Wiring Connections in your Home