WIFI made simple

Explaining wireless internet

Everyone uses WiFi without an understanding of what they’re using.

WiFi is in your home or at a place of business. It’s different from the cellular data you get from your mobile phone provider. People tend to think WiFi is the internet you get from your ISP (Internet Service Providers) in your home.

WiFi is how you get internet on your devices.

What’s the difference between Wi-Fi and cellular data?

Cellular data is broadcast from large radio towers. You can get cellular data anywhere a tower is near. The cellular signal travels further.

Wi-Fi is broadcast from a wireless router/gateway (the box your ISP gave you when you signed up) Wi-Fi is used in proximity to the router. The type of Wi-Fi signal you have determines how far it will travel.

What are the types of WiFi and their differences?

(as of February 2022)

The WiFi standards have been called by the letters at the end of the standard 802.11. 802.11a is called A.

With backward compatibility, the type of WiFi matters when you add a new WiFi router to your house or business. You would want to add the newest available for the best coverage and speeds.

In 2019, the WiFi alliance moved away from letter-based marketing naming. Instead switch to something easier like WiFi 6.

Let’s discuss the types of WiFi

802.11a released in 1999 has a maximum speed of 54Mbps. It’s broadcast over 5Ghz (gigahertz).

802.11b released in 1999 has a maximum speed of 11Mbps (Megabits per second).

802.11g released in 2003 has a maximum speed of 54Mbps.

802.11n released in 2009 has a maximum speed of 600Mbps.

802.11ac released in 2014 has a maximum speed of 1.3Gbps (Gigabits per second).

802.11ax released in 2019 has a maximum speed of 10-12Gbps.

How does it work?

WiFi is broadcast out like a radio station to your car. As of 2022, WiFi is broadcast using a 2.4Ghz or 5Ghz radio wave. There is an antenna on your device and the gateway to send and receive the data.

Why is my WiFi slow?

There are 2 things causing slow WiFi speeds.

Interference and Distance

Since WiFi is sent over radio waves there’s interference. This interference slows down your speeds. This means there are other devices putting our radio waves on the same frequency.

Think of WiFi like a water pipe. If there is less water in the pipe, the water can pretty much move where it wants. As the pipe fills, the water only moves down the pipe when the water in front of it moves down the pipe.

Distance plays into slow WiFi too. Unless you’re lucky, you have a room or spot in your house with no WiFi. The reason is probably how far you are away from the router. Your dead spot (a place without a WiFi signal) may not seem far but things like walls affect how far the signal can travel.

What type of devices can cause interference?

Bluetooth devices, radios, and microwaves (yes the ones you cook with) put out the same radio signal as your WiFi. So they can affect the strength of the signal. Also, other people’s WiFi networks can affect your since

The number of devices using the radio bands (the 2.4 or 5Ghz radio waves) will slow down your connection. More devices lead to slower connections for all of the devices connected.

How can I improve my WiFi?

The best thing you can do to improve WiFi is to minimize the number of wireless devices in your house. Since WiFi gets overloaded as you add more devices to your network.

You can do this by running wired connections to as much as possible. You don’t have to run wires in the walls to accomplish wired internet. There are 2 newer technologies solving this problem.

  1. Powerline adapters

  2. MOCA (Multimedia over Coax Alliance) adapters

About Powerline adapters

Powerline adapters use the existing electrical wiring in your house. They use this wire to send internet signals.

You need one connected to your gateway and plugged into the wall electrical outlet. The other needs to be plugged into the electric outlet next to the device you need internet on and into the device.

Their downside is the wiring needs to be on the same electric circuit for the best speed. It does still work well. I used it in a long run on a different circuit and still was able to pull 100Mbps.

About MOCA adapters

MOCA adapters use your existing cable wiring in your house to extend wired internet.

You connect the plug it into power, the coax outlet, and to the internet port on your router. Then a second adapter plugs into power, coax, and into your ethernet (oversized phone plug on internet-connected devices) port on the device you want to connect.

For my money, this is the way to go and what I currently use. Since this is the same line cable internet runs over you get full speed. You can get 2 adapters for around $60 USD.

Another bonus. If you’re using cable internet MOCA is likely already on the modem. All you have to do is turn it on in the modem and then connect the adapters to a different location.

The downfall is you need to install a filter where the coax comes into the house to prevent your network from being exposed to other people on the cable provider’s connection.

What’s a WiFi myth?

Those commercials you see on TV about the fastest Wi-Fi are marketing. All ISPs use the same Wi-Fi tech. They haven’t created anything different than their competitors. One day this might change.

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