The final part of the Wi-Fi series will examine the hardware available to increase coverage and reduce interference in the home. While it is common today for the modem, router, and access point to all be combined in a single integrated access device (IAD) many homes still have the modem and router/access point devices separate. Regardless, all three components work together to form the backbone of the home wireless network. This traditional setup consisting of a modem and a router as the lone access point is being put to the test with all our connected devices today.
Let us start with some clarity around interference. Something that causes radio frequency interference is the usual source for Wi-Fi interference. Common culprits are any wireless appliances (garage door openers, baby monitors, Bluetooth devices, etc.). Regular appliances in the kitchen like a refrigerator, microwave, etc. can also cause interference. Other Wi-Fi networks (how close is your neighbor) are frequent causes. Finally, do not forget about physical obstacles like walls, floors, and fireplaces. While glass and wood have a slight impact, metal and concrete can have a large impact. The closer any of these disrupters are to the router/access point the more interference they will cause.
Now that you have reduced the interference if you still have areas with poor signal strength there are options to consider.
A Wi-Fi extender/repeater can be added to the network. This device would re-transmit the signal from the router/access point helping to increase the signal strength further. The key to the effectiveness of these devices is locating them in a place where they have excellent signal strength.
A powerline adapter can be added to the network. This device will use the existing electrical wires to transport your internet signal to another location in the home. The paired second powerline device can be connected to an extender/repeater. This can help you bring good Wi-Fi signal to the most remote spots in your home.
Transforming the wireless network into a mesh deployment is something else to consider. In this setup multiple access points are deployed throughout the home. Devices then connect to the access point that provides the strongest signal.
This series has helped us understand our Wi-Fi dependency. Wi-Fi has become a utility for our homes holding similar importance as water and electricity. Dozens of smart devices in our homes rely on a constant source of power to operate much like their dumb predecessors. The difference now is that these devices can operate without power for a short period of time, however, take away the Wi-Fi and those devices become dumb.