In two previous posts, I highlighted techniques you could use to troubleshoot your home internet connection and determine whether the problem is with your internet service provider, or with your home network equipment. In this video, we'll assume you’ve done this troubleshooting and determined the problem is with your home network equipment.
For many home networks we’ve recently encountered, users have a “box” (technically a “Gateway”) provided by the internet service provider which brings the internet signal into the house from the street, and provides a WiFi connection that all devices in that house can connect to. A single box of this sort may provide sufficient WiFi coverage in a 500 square foot studio apartment, but it is rarely sufficient in a 1000+ square foot home. Recognizing this limitation, some users add “WiFi Extenders” to increase the coverage, but such devices require the user to switch between the main WiFi network and a second WiFi network provided by the extender, whenever they move about their residence. This setup becomes a problem when you forget to switch networks as you move away from one wifi device or the other.
Corporate IT networks long ago overcame this issue by allowing all Wireless Access Points in a large office space to talk to one another and broadcast a single WiFi network name that could be accessed from anywhere in the office. This “Mesh Networking” concept was absent from home network environments until about 4 years ago. Companies like Google and Eero have pioneered this category, and traditional names like Linksys and Netgear have since released products to close the competitive gap. We’ll come back to this point in a minute.
But first, how do you know the limits of your network’s wifi coverage? If you’re using a Mac, hold down the option key, then click the Airport icon in the top menu bar. This will show you a list of grey values beneath the WiFi network you are already connected to. One of those values will be “RSSI”. This is a negative number, and you want to make sure it is greater than -70 dbm (in other words, -60dbm is a stronger signal than -80dbm, and stronger is better). As you move around all rooms and corners of your house with your computer in hand, the RSSI value will change. Draw an imaginary line (or a real one with painters tape) wherever the signal strength is at or below -70dbm.
You’ll need to boost the signal to all parts of your home that are not receiving a signal stronger than -70dbm. You’ll need a device that’s going to repeat that signal, and you’ll want to place it at the -67dbm mark rather than at right at -70dbm. This is just a technique I’ve learned over the years.
So, if you have an WiFi extender in your home, we suggest getting rid of that technology, turning off WiFi on your internet service provider’s gateway, and installing a home mesh network. I’ve personally installed several Eero devices in homes, and in these times guided users to install them for themselves. Their ease of setup is exemplary: You download an app onto your phone that walks you step-by-step through the whole process. An Eero 3-pack will allow you to place the first unit next to the internet service provider’s Gateway or modem, and the second and third devices wherever the app guides you to place them. You can also use the techniques I highlighted in this video to even more precisely place the second and third units for optimum coverage.
A note to the reader: Smart Sourced IT does not receive any payment or incentive for mentioning any of the products listed in this article.