Wireless Networks – Today’s Technology

The one thing we can’t control is the internet connection speed to our homes. While we may pay for a certain plan the reality is that the more devices using it the slower it gets. Under normal conditions 80% of the internet traffic in New Zealand is from the home consumer.

During lockdown 4 this would have moved up to around 95% with most people working from home. The Covid-19 pandemic, and the need for all of us to work from home, showed up a lot of issues for people using their wifi network at home. When you have at least 2 adults, with high school and primary school children as well, all doing their stuff on the internet, that’s when things started to go wrong. How many people used the Zoom App for their virtual meetings and found connection issues?

The one thing we can control though is our home wifi network. The issues often come down to the type of router we have and the quality of it. Few devices are as essential to the smooth running of a modern-day digital household than a wireless router, so it’s strange that this black box is so little understood. And because the wireless signal is invisible, we can’t see what is happening when we connect.

Let’s look at one of the key features of many modern routers, i.e. dual band 2.4GHz and 5GHz support, so you know exactly what it is and how to take advantage of each. Both 2.4GHz and 5GHz wifi frequencies have been around for years, but it’s only recently that the latter has been properly introduced for consumer technology. The higher the frequency the faster the data transmission, but there are some trade-offs, which we need to understand.

When a router is labelled as dual band, it means it can encode and decode radio waves at both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies. Most new routers available today will have this functionality, so it’s almost taken as a given that it’ll be included.

The trade-off between 2.4GHz and 5GHz isn’t hard to understand at all. 2.4GHz gives you more range but a weaker signal, whereas 5GHz offers a stronger (and faster) signal but can’t travel as far around your home. In other words, get anything that’s going to be using a lot of bandwidth as close to the router as possible. Devices using the 5GHz band will also have more trouble with walls and other objects when connecting to wifi.

Of course, you’re still limited by the speed of your incoming broadband, but 5GHz is more likely to serve that broadband up faster and more reliably than its 2.4GHz counterpart. In theory, data can be shifted around twice as fast on the 5GHz band, but the actual difference you’ll notice

at home will depend on a variety of other factors, like how many devices are hooked up to your wifi network.

The other difference is in the number of devices you can have on each band without running into problems. 2.4GHz has fewer channels, just three of which don’t overlap, while 5GHz supports

23 non-overlapping channels and can therefore support more wireless devices without them interfering with each other.

Baby monitors and cordless phones often use the 2.4GHz band and microwave interference on the same band can also cause more problems

In Summary:

Our internet service providers provide

a basic entry level wireless router with their service offering. The more devices connected the slower the connection speed. And this includes Netflix and other streaming services. The downstream resolution will have been reduced without your eyesight necessarily having noticed. It is the reality of the internet. The only way to improve your wireless internet speed and connection reliability is to up spec your wireless router.

Talk to your local Powerbase branch as to the best options available on the market.