Ask Giz: How Can I Make My Wi-Fi Faster?

Ask Giz: How Can I Make My Wi-Fi Faster?
Wiffy. Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

Welcome back to Ask Giz, a place where we answer questions of all sorts from you, our readers.

If you’ve got a strange question in the vein of electric cars, science, tech, gadgets, gaming or health, shoot it over to us. We’d be happy to pry into it.

Today’s question comes from Lauren in Sydney. Lauren wants to know:

“What settings can I change to make my Wi-Fi faster?”

Thanks for the question, Lauren! I’ve long deliberated over this question myself, getting hung up over disappointing internet speeds in several apartments and houses.

While your question goes into the settings you can change to make your Wi-Fi faster, I’m broadening the question to encompass ways to make your Wi-Fi faster as a whole.

So, let’s get stuck into it. How do you make your Wi-Fi faster?

How to make your Wi-Fi faster

Firstly, know that whatever you might do to make your Wi-Fi faster, it’ll likely be a fairly nil change. Internet speeds are largely dependent on what you pay for with your plan (as in, the maximum download speed made available by your internet plan) and because most modem-routers on the market now are capable of speeds above 100Mbps, don’t think that you can immediately fix your problems by buying a new piece of kit. That being said…

Swapping out your modem-router

I can quite confidently say that I noticed speed improvements in some instances when I switched from the Belong 4353 router to the Eero Pro 6. Wireless VR over Wi-Fi became much, much more consistent and 4K streams loaded a lot quicker (I also haven’t had a dropout since I installed the modem). The Belong 4353 modem was quite an old modem when I replaced it (some eight years or so, with constant use from beginning to end) so perhaps it was simply getting too old.

Additionally, if you’re looking at spreading the Wi-Fi signal throughout your home evenly, consider picking up a mesh modem. Mesh modems form a sort of spider’s web of Wi-Fi in your home, distributing an even signal throughout, triangulated by where you put the mesh modules. This is typically a solution for a bigger home with more money to spend, but it’s a solution no less. Wi-Fi extenders solve this problem in a similar way, however the quality of the Wi-Fi signal drops with this solution.

Beyond swapping your modem out though, what else can you do? Quite a lot, I’m happy to say.

Changing the channel

Firstly, consider switching your Wi-Fi connection to 5Ghz. This is a type of internet delivery that your modem may provide which is faster than the alternative (2.4Ghz) at the cost of shorter range. If you’re servicing a small home, 5Ghz is the way to go, however a big home may need a 2.4Ghz connection, just to cover the corners of the property. To change this setting, you’ll need to access the backend of your modem-router.

Additionally, a more sophisticated modem-router should be able to change the band that it operates on, as Wi-Fi signals in condensed living situations can interrupt each other, causing signal problems for multiple households. You’ll want to change your channel to a less occupied one, so try to run an internet test on channels as you change them, to sus out which one is the best for you.

Physical solutions

Yes, moving the modem-router around can solve your internet woes, but it isn’t a solution to be relied upon. Keeping your modem-router as close to the devices it’s servicing with Wi-Fi is one of the best ways to (physically) improve the wireless signal, though it might not be the only culprit. Some devices, such as microwaves, can cause signal issues for your modem-router, so it’s best to keep them far away.

Limiting device use

Sometimes you may notice a decline in internet quality when certain devices are on, or when someone in your home starts doing something on the internet. What could be happening here is background downloads, interfering with your internet use by hogging all the bandwidth. You can avoid this issue by simply having the devices you’re not using turned off, or disconnected from the Wi-Fi.

This problem may also hang upon the modem-router needing to be replaced, as it may not be handling in-home bandwidth as well as possible, however it could also be a plan issue. Which brings us to…

Changing your internet plan

If you’re suffering from slower-than-necessary speeds, consider upgrading your internet plan. Personally, I think NBN 50 is an ideal speed for most households, offering a maximum download speed of 50Mbps. However, NBN 100 is worth considering if you’re after that extra kick, effectively doubling the speed.

Have you considered Ethernet?

Wi-Fi will unlikely be faster than Ethernet in your home, so it could be worth switching to ethernet where you can. If internet quality is a concern, don’t let it be, as this won’t drop off on Ethernet unless you’re using a cable hundreds of metres long. If you’re a power-user, Ethernet is probably the way to go (coming from me, a guy who uses a 10m CAT6 Ethernet cable for his gaming computer in his apartment). Just try not to trip on the cable.

Zoom Zoom

That’s where our recommendations end. If you have a recommendation for improving internet speed, we welcome you to shoot us an email about it.

Ask Giz is a fortnightly series where we answer your questions, be it tech, science, gadget, health or gaming related. This is a reader-involved series where we rely on Gizmodo Australia’s audience to submit questions. If you have a question for Giz, you can submit it here. Or check out the answer to our last Ask Giz: Why Do You Feel a Temperature Change Immediately When Entering a Room?