How to boost your Wi-Fi signal

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The advent of streaming services like Netflix has meant more of us are spending more time in our bedrooms, binge watching the latest shows on our phones, laptops and computers. With all this data being transferred on wireless signals, you might find your WiFi signal severely lagging in some parts of your home. Don’t worry, you can fix this! Read on to find out how.

How do I boost my WiFi signal?

Barring moving the WiFi modem into your room, there are a couple of solutions that could work for you.

These solutions are a workaround the physical barriers that might inhibit top WiFi reception – things like walls, doors and distance can all obviously have an effect on your internet performance. If your room is upstairs, and the modem is downstairs, chances are you’re not getting tip-top speeds delivered for your Netflix connection. The solutions are:

  • WiFi Range Extenders, Repeaters or Boosters
  • Powerline Adaptors
  • Get a new modem with a more powerful WiFi signal

These all work in slightly different ways but the end result of each can be impressive. Pause Netflix for a little bit and read up!

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What is a Wi-Fi range extender, repeater or booster?

netgear-range-extender

If you’ve done a bit of reading already, you might have come across these terms. The fact is that there is little difference between the three, and the terms are hard to define because manufacturers define them differently! They all exist for one common goal, however, and that’s to improve Wi-Fi coverage.

Most of them work by plugging into an electricity socket, picking up your Wi-Fi signal from the modem and then retransmitting it to a wide radius in your home, effectively boosting your WiFi range. All you need is your Wi-Fi password handy! So, let’s get a quick look at the benefits and drawbacks of a Wi-Fi extender:

Pros Cons
An easy ‘plug and play’ solution Increases latency by using another ‘link in the chain’, which can affect speeds
Some models fairly inexpensive The price you pay can deliver inconsistent results, more expensive ones may offer diminishing returns
You might only need one unit You’ll need to buy multiple to get the best results around the house
Are easy to find and buy Ultimately not the most effective solution

How much do WiFi extenders cost?

Wi-Fi extenders come with a variety of different price tags attached. The cheapest ones tend to be around $50-$60, and the most expensive can be had for up to $300 or thereabouts. You can expect a better experience with a more expensive WiFi extender, but you might be satisfied with a cheap one.

The differences between an expensive and budget-oriented extender are noted – most pronounced in the transfer speeds – but you might find the cheaper one is ‘good enough’ for your needs. If you find your connection is generally OK most of the time, providing a small boost with a device costing less than $70 may be the best solution. However, Wi-Fi extenders usually work best when you get little consistent signal. In this case, it may be a wise investment to opt for a more high-end variant. Extenders are an easy solution but are not obviously fit for everyone – in any case, it can be useful to consider powerline adaptors too.

Is your router ready for the NBN?

Slow internet connection? Consider upgrading your plan

If you’re getting a slow internet connection, be it from a wireless or wired signal, an easy solution could be to upgrade your service to a faster speed. Having a faster internet speed will allow for a greater bandwidth, and a more even internet experience throughout the home, especially if you’ve got multiple people in the home on the internet. Below you’ll find a selection of plans.

Unlimited Premium Evening Speed (NBN 100) Plans

The following table shows a selection of published unlimited Premium Evening Speed (NBN 100) plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest, and then by alphabetical order of provider. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

Unlimited Standard Plus Evening Speed (NBN 50) Plans

The following table shows a selection of published unlimited Standard Plus Evening Speed (NBN 50) plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest, and then by alphabetical order of provider. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

Unlimited Standard Evening Speed (NBN 25) Plans

The following table shows a selection of published unlimited Standard Evening Speed (NBN 25) plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest, and then by alphabetical order of provider. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

Unlimited Basic Evening Speed (NBN 12) Plans

The following table shows a selection of published unlimited Basic Evening Speed (NBN 12) plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest, and then by alphabetical order of provider. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

What are powerline adaptors?

Powerline adaptors come in a pair and they work by transmitting data between two power points in separate parts of your home. So, effectively you are getting an internet connection through your electricity supply. You first attach – by Ethernet cable – one adaptor to your modem and plug the adaptor into the wall socket. Then you attach a patch cable from your device – usually a TV – to the second adaptor plugged into the wall. This allows for an effective solution to counter those buffering woes!

So, it seems like an effective solution and already better than Wi-Fi extenders, so what are the drawbacks? The drawbacks lie mostly in things you can’t exactly control, but this can also be frustrating if you aren’t aware.

One of the biggest ‘hidden’ drawbacks is the problem that arises if your power sockets used are on different ‘lines’. This depends on how your house is wired, but if your two power sockets are on different lines, they may not be able to ‘talk’ to each other. After all, this is effectively chaining or ‘networking’ a variety of devices together. One of the main solutions to this is a ‘phase coupler’ device, which is yet another cost burden. However, in a lot of cases you can get by fine by simply ‘plugging and playing’.

Other drawbacks are also found in Wi-Fi extenders, such as:

  • Depending on quality of adaptors, speeds may not be optimal as there is another ‘link’ in the chain. This increases latency, which can affect speeds – especially in online gaming.
  • Range limitations. Despite it being over powerlines, there are range limitations and performance is best when the range between modem and end device is shortest.
  • Optimal performance is also hindered if you use a ‘breaker’ or surge protector. This is also the case with using power boards. Performance is best when you plug the adaptors straight into the wall.

Overall, powerline adaptors can offer more consistent connection as opposed to Wi-Fi extenders. Using a fixed line as opposed to airwaves obviously can produce better results. In any case, powerline adaptors are varied and come in a range of price points and quality.

Prices are generally more expensive with powerline adaptors than with Wi-Fi extenders. They idle around the $140 price point, although can be much higher.

As it stands, powerline adaptors are usually the more effective option for providing a ‘stop gap’ between your modem and streaming device. Before rushing out to spend a pretty penny, it can also pay to look at a couple of other cheaper solutions.

Consider buying a more powerful modem-router

If your WiFi has been lacking in the home, it might be worth upgrading your modem-router. Every modem-router is different and some provide a more powerful WiFi signal, with some capable of providing a stronger WiFi experience. A new modem can range anywhere between $100 all the way up to around the $1,000 price point, and could turn out to be an easy solution to your WiFi woes, especially if your modem is old.

How can I improve my WiFi coverage?

Wi-Fi wireless router

Beyond powerline adaptors and Wi-Fi extenders, there are several methods you can use to hopefully improve your Wi-Fi signal and get to watch that Netflix episode sooner.

  • The first step is to change the location of your Wi-Fi modem. Change it to a central location in your home and avoid placing it near walls or other physical barriers.
  • Update your modem. Chances are if your modem is rather old. Technology has improved to keep up with increased speed demands, so it could be a wise investment to choose a modern modem that can keep up with the rigours of today’s data demands.

If you’ve got your ideal modem set-up in a good location, Wi-Fi extenders and powerline adaptors present a simple way to eke out a little bit more performance in the farthest reaches of your home. However, they are not without setbacks and the price you pay for them does not necessarily guarantee that you will get great latency and speeds. Either way, it is worth shopping around and thinking of a bunch of different solutions. Happy streaming!

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