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A great home network is the sum of its parts

Each component of your home network must be fine-tuned to prevent slow speeds or inconsistent coverage for all your devices.

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An Internet Service Provider (ISP) provides an internet connection to your home.

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Modem is the device that connects your home to the ISP's network, allowing you to access the Internet.

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WiFi Router

The router serves as an intermediary device that connects to your modem and enables WiFi connectivity for your home devices.

Connectivity issues can involve multiple parts of your network.

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What causes connectivity issues?

ISP Bandwidth

Your ISP will provide you with a certain amount of bandwidth, which refers to the maximum amount of data your network can handle at any moment, typically measured in “megabits per second” (mbps).

What is Bandwidth?

Your WiFi speeds ultimately depend on your ISP bandwidth. If you don’t have enough bandwidth, you won’t get the speeds you need for all your devices.

Bad ISP graph
Bad ISP graph

The more bandwidth you have, the more your network can accommodate multiple device connections without compromising speed and performance.

Good ISP graph
Good ISP graph

Keep in mind that while some speed loss is expected as your bandwidth reaches your connected devices, it's only a cause for concern if the loss is significant.

Modem Specs

Even if your ISP provides enough bandwidth for all your devices, an outdated modem might slow your network down. Newer modems have better technology that can handle faster speeds and more devices.

Bad modem graph
Bad modem graph

If your modem is capable of supporting the maximum speeds delivered by your ISP, it won’t slow your network down.

Good modem graph
Good modem graph

Keep in mind that while some speed loss is expected as your bandwidth reaches your connected devices, it's only a cause for concern if the loss is significant.

Router Specs

Even if your modem provides a large bandwidth capacity, a poor-quality router won’t transmit the maximum speed you need for your devices.

Bad router graph
Bad router graph

If your router can handle the bandwidth delivered by your ISP, it can provide your devices the maximum speed capacity they need.

Good router graph
Good router graph

Keep in mind that while some speed loss is expected as your bandwidth reaches your connected devices, it's only a cause for concern if the loss is significant.

WiFi Coverage

Factors that affect WiFi coverage
How to fix it
Signal blocked by physical obstructions (e.g. walls, floors)
Move your router to a central and open location or add WiFi extenders to your network
Signal interference from electronic devices (e.g. microwaves, baby monitors)
Avoid placing your router near wireless devices that transmit radio signals
Your home is too large
Upgrade to a mesh WiFi system for whole-home coverage
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Signal reflection and absorption (e.g. by metal surfaces, mirrors, water)
Reposition your router or add or use directional antennas (if applicable)
Your modem and router are outdated
Get your own modem and router that support the latest WiFi standards
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Your ISP doesn't provide the speed you need
Upgrade your internet plan or switch providers
You're using the wrong band
Get your own modem and Switch to the 2.4 GHz band for long-range WiFi and 5 GHz for bandwidth-heavy devices router that support the latest WiFi standards
You're on the wrong WiFi channel
Change the channel on your router to a less congested one
Does your ISP provide enough bandwidth to accommodate all your devices?
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Frequently asked questions

Can I extend the range of my home WiFi network?

You can easily extend the range of your WiFi network with a new router or mesh system. Modern routers will have better technology that can increase your network’s range, but mesh systems can provide whole-home coverage and transmit a much stronger signal over a longer range than traditional routers.

Do I need mesh WiFi?

You might need a mesh system if your home is over 1,000 square feet, you have multiple floors, or there are “WiFi dead zones” anywhere in your home. If you live in a small home or apartment with thin walls, a traditional router should provide enough WiFi coverage.

How can I improve my WiFi speeds?

There are many ways you can boost your WiFi speed, but the easiest methods would be to buy a new router or pay for a better internet plan. However, doing either one of these alone might not speed up your WiFi. You might also be able to log into your WiFi router and change settings to improve your WiFi speed for free.

How do I choose the right modem for my WiFi network?

When choosing a new modem, you need to find one that is compatible with your internet service provider (like Comcast, Charter, and Cox). You also want to look for a modem that can deliver the speeds you’re getting from your internet plan. Finally, you should only get a model with the latest DOCSIS 3.0 or DOCSIS 3.1 technology.

How do I choose the right router for my WiFi network?

When looking for a router, you need to find one that can deliver the WiFi speeds you’re getting from your internet plan. Then you also want to look for a router that can provide enough coverage for the size of your home. Finally, you should only get a router that features the latest WiFi 5 or WiFi 6 technology.

How do I troubleshoot problems with my home WiFi network?

There are many ways to troubleshoot problems with your WiFi network. The first thing you should always do is unplug your router, wait 60 seconds, and plug it back in. If that doesn’t work, you can use troubleshooting programs on your computer or log in to your WiFi router and change settings there. If all else fails, you can reset your modem and router to default settings.

How many access points do I need for my mesh system?

A mesh router and a single access point can provide 2,000 to 5,500 square feet of WiFi coverage. If you need more, you should install additional access points every 50 feet. Most systems allow you to add several access points and extend your WiFi coverage up to 10,000 square feet or more.

I want to watch a movie, but the video comes through all blurry. How do I fix this?

The most common reason video gets blurry when streaming is due to “buffering” or loading when you have a poor WiFi connection. To improve the video quality when streaming, you will need to boost your WiFi signal or upgrade your network with a new router or a better internet plan.

There are so many terms to remember. What do the internet, WiFi, and ISP all mean?

The internet is a global network where you can visit websites, check email, and watch videos on YouTube. WiFi is a term for wireless internet, which lets you surf the web on your smartphone. An ISP (internet service provider) is a company that sells you access to the internet (like Comcast, Charter, or Cox).

What is a good WiFi speed?

A good WiFi download speed for a single-person household can be as low as 25 Mbps (megabits per second). However, if you have multiple devices connected to the same network, you probably need download speeds of 100 Mbps to 200 Mbps and up.

What is a mesh WiFi system?

A mesh WiFi system includes a router and one or more “access points.” The router and access points connect wirelessly to send and receive WiFi signals. This allows you to place access points anywhere in your home to instantly extend the range of your WiFi network.

What’s the difference between a modem and a router?

A modem connects your home to the internet through cable, fiber, or DSL. A router connects to your modem, creates your WiFi network, and routes internet traffic to all your devices, like computers, smartphones, and smart home devices.

When should I replace my modem and router?

According to experts, you should probably replace your WiFi router every 3 to 5 years, while you only need to replace your modem every 4 to 7 years. As technology changes, newer modems and routers can deliver faster speeds, handle more devices, and provide next-gen security.

Why does my WiFi speed matter?

Your WiFi speed lets you know how many devices you can connect to your network and what kind of activities you can do online. With slow WiFi, you might only be able to check your email, surf the web, or stream music on one or two devices. With faster WiFi, you can stream 4K movies on multiple devices at once.

Why doesn’t my wifi speed match my ISP speed?

Your internet service provider (ISP) advertises a “theoretical maximum” internet speed, but that doesn’t mean you will always achieve those speeds at home. During times of peak demand, you may experience slower WiFi speeds, especially if you live in a densely populated area.

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