Slow Wi-Fi is frustrating, aggravating and even infuriating. No one has time to wait for webpages to load or videos to buffer, even if it’s just a couple seconds. That’s why dial-up modems went extinct as soon as broadband became available.
Internet companies promote incredibly fast Wi-Fi. Unfortunately, many people still experience slow Wi-Fi speeds.
“It could be the Internet speeds not keeping up or you could be overtaxing the equipment in your home,” said John Joyce, co-owner of CRS Technology Consultants.
John recently had an opportunity to explore Wi-Fi speeds during a Tech Bytes segment on ABC7. Many people aren’t sure how fast a page should load; that’s why they don’t have their Wi-Fi checked.
“It should take milliseconds,” John said.
Causes of Slow Wi-Fi
There are multiple reasons your Wi-Fi isn’t as fast as you’d like:
- You’re not paying for the fastest Internet speeds available in your monthly plan.
- Your router is old or hasn’t been restarted and updated in years.
- There are too many devices connected at the same time.
- The router is too far away from users or blocked by furniture, walls or appliances.
- You have too many browser windows or programs running in the background.
In spring 2020, the pandemic had a huge impact on Wi-Fi speeds. More people began working from home, straining the infrastructure and saturating the network.
“There are more devices on our networks,” John said of the post-pandemic era. “The infrastructure for those Internet service providers has a lot more pressure on it than ever before.
After Hurricane Ian, Southwest Florida experienced a similar phenomenon. Everybody was trying to use the Internet at the same time after the storm, essentially bringing it to a standstill.
Most businesses are hard-wired, meaning they have a wired connection. However, wired connections can experience slow Internet speeds, too, if hardware is old. Success also has created another problem for businesses. Many companies have added employees because the economy is so strong, but they didn’t increase their bandwidth accordingly. In business, time is money, so slow Internet speeds can decrease productivity. All of those wasted seconds can add up.
“In a business environment, we hard-wire everything we can,” John said. “Wireless is very convenient, but in a production environment, we want reliability. As good as Wi-Fi is and keeps getting, nothing still replaces the reliability of plugging it in and having a physical connection between your equipment and the Internet.”
Solutions to Speed Up Wi-Fi
To explore whether your slow Wi-Fi should be faster than what you’re experiencing, consider these four tasks:
- Check your Internet plan to see what speed you’re paying for. Today, at least 200 megabytes per second (mbps) is the standard for connected single-family homes.
- Run a free Internet speed test. This measures how fast your device can upload and download items.
- Determine the age of your Internet router. Anything over 4-5 years old should be replaced.
- Check the location of your wireless router. Walls and appliances are obstacles that can slow Internet speeds. In those cases, experts recommend mesh Wi-Fi routers.
“Mesh connections put multiple devices throughout your home or office so that when you’re moving about, they are intelligently handing off your connection one to the other,” John said.
Sometimes, the problem falls outside of the home. In those cases, call your Internet provider and have them test their equipment.
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