Wi-Fi, Router & Internet Tips
People are always complaining that their Wi-Fi sucks (me included!) and think the answer is a new router. I’ve also spent far too long mucking around with different SSIDs and typing in IP addresses. I’ve compiled a list of tips.
Equipment and Positioning
- 2.4 ghz vs 5 ghz 2.4ghz has better wall penetration than 5ghz, but 5ghz has more channels and supports higher speeds. If your devices can see lots of other SSIDs, prefer 5ghz since has only 3 non-overlapping channels compared to 24 for 5 ghz. If you have a weak signal several rooms away from your router, prefer 2.4 ghz. Also note, some devices don’t support 5 ghz.
- Position Antennas Vertically Typically keep them all vertical for covering a single floor, and angle them to 45-degrees for multiple floors. Rotating the antennas does not help, since they have roughly doughnut shaped dispersion. [source]
- You Don’t Need A Faster Package An HD Netflix stream requires on 5mbps, so even cheap (e.g. 25mpbs) plans support multiple streams. If you’re routinely backing up large (>1GB) files or streaming 4K, then get more. [source]
- Wifi Analyzer is a great app for doing a site survey. You do experiments, like moving your router, and then take new measurements.
- Setting Up Local DNS You can give your network a domain name (usually under LAN > DHCP, mine is “SadieNet”) and then manually assign IPs and hostnames (e.g. I can go to http://router.sadienet, http://printer.sadienet, etc) You can give your router a name too (usually at LAN > LAN IP > Device Name.) Mine is
routerso I can go to
- Avoiding Multiple SSIDs You can assign the same SSID and passphrase to your 2.4 ghz and 5 ghz, and any access points. Your devices will switch seamlessly!
- Extended Wireless Details On MacOS, hold down
⌥ Optionwhen you click the menubar Wi-Fi icon to see additional details about the network including IP address, BSSID, signal strength, router IP, security, channel, noise, speed, MCS index and NSS [source]
- Cable Modem UI Many cable modems have a web interface. At
192.168.100.1My SB6141 reports the status, signal, addresses and some configuration (e.g. I can control the lights!) [source]
- Custom DNS Some routers allow you to edit their
/etc/hostsfile. I have an entry for
192.168.100.1 modem.sadienetto get to my modem. [source]
- Signal vs Speed The connection between your device and your router has a theoretical max rate based on the hardware (Wi-Fi generation, MIMO, channel width, etc.) This is called PHY or MCS. The connection between your modem and your ISP also has a limit. A stronger signal can use a higher PHY/MCS rates, resulting in higher speeds, up to the max. However, signal quality (measured by signal-to-noise ratio) affects throughput too. Increased noise levels decrease the signal quality and reduce throughput. >40 supports max rates, >25 is very fast, >15 is usually fast, >10 is slow and less than 10 is unusable.
- Most often a Wi-Fi Network is identified by a service set ID (SSID) which typical has one access point (router) identified by a basic service set ID (BSSID.) [source]
- Signal (RSSI) is the usable strength of the radio waves, expressed in decibels relative to a milliwatt between 0dBm (strongest) and -120dBm (weakest). Smaller negative numbers represent a cleaner/stronger signal. For wireless data communications, normal range is -45dBm to -87dBm. Anything below -85dBm is generally unusable, and over -50dBm can be considered perfect. [source]
- Noise (dBm) in wireless communications is a combination of all unwanted interfering signal sources, such as crosstalk, radio frequency interference, distortion, etc. This value is measured in decibels from zero to -120. The closer this value is to -120, the better, because that means there is little to no interference. Typical environments range between -100dBm and -80dBm. [source]