The internet company said you have the best modem that you can have on your existing plan, but there are still times when your phone or computer seems to be very slow when you’re online. We have all had those moments when the little beach ball spins, the progress bar inches forward bit by bit, and the page loads s-l-o-w-l-y, or not at all. A call to technical support always starts with the same questions:
1] Did you restart the modem? Yes.
2] Did you restart your device? Yes.
3] Did you recently add any new devices? No.
WHY DO I GET A WEAK SIGNAL?
Most of the time, there really isn’t anything wrong with the modem or your devices. Wi-Fi devices can be susceptible to many different types of interference from other household devices such as baby monitors, garage door openers, cordless phones, microwave transmitters, radios, cameras, and more.
Location can also contribute to a weak signal. Sometimes how thick a wall is or what is inside of it can reduce the signal strength of your modem. If your modem is at the front of your home, the signal may be weaker towards the back of your home and vice-versa. While moving it towards the centre of your home can help, you still have the same signal trying to service your entire house, trying to get around all your other household devices. So, what do you do?
BUILD YOUR OWN MESH NETWORK
An easy solution is to extend your signal using a mesh network. You do this by introducing nodes (locations) within your home that can distribute the signal. The term mesh simply means that the signals all work together to create one network.
The first mesh device connects to your modem (wired or wirelessly, depending on how your home is configured) and from there, additional mesh devices connect to it and other devices, increasing the signal across your home.
A typical starter mesh network uses 3 devices. Depending on the type of configuration you have (wired and/or wireless) can help determine how many additional devices you can add to maintain good connectivity).
HOW DO THEY CONNECT?
Your first device needs to establish a connection to your modem/router either wirelessly or wired. While wired always provides a better connection, it isn’t practical in most homes. Don’t fret about that as a wireless connection provides a good option.
Once you’ve achieved the connection to the modem, each additional device will connect through the first mesh device and/or each other, depending again on the configuration options. Together they form the mesh network.
WHICH MESH SYSTEM SHOULD I GET?
A good entry level pack that I recommend is the TP-Link Whole Home Mesh WiFi System (Deco M4), which sells with three devices and offers coverage for up to 5,500 square feet. The average home size is about 2,500 square feet, so this package gives you more than enough coverage with fair speeds of up to 1, 200 Mbps. To give you a sense of speed, when you watch Netflix, you typically need 25Mbps for UltraHD or 4K quality, so that leaves you a lot of bandwidth for several devices.
Plus, you can purchase the set on Amazon between $140 and $170 which offers a great return on the investment.
The installation time is about 20-30 minutes depending on how comfortable you are with technology, but the instructions are easy to follow, and the app provides prompts along the way. This set also allows you to turn off the LED lights so if you put them in your bedroom, the lights aren’t a nighttime distraction.
I have used this set for over a year now and whether I am in the front yard washing the car, the backyard sitting on the deck, the basement, or upstairs, the connection has never been better.