WIFI – Reliability, Speed, or Both?

Accessing the internet wirelessly is standard these days.  In fact, using a cable seems outdated and difficult in the world today.  There are many things to consider when looking into a WIFI solution in your home or business these days:  Routers, protocols/ frequencies, range, building structure, and WIFI usage.  With so many things to consider on the lineup, lets dig in.

Home on the Range…

First thing to think about when looking into wireless solutions, is how far do we need it to go?  There’s two technologies readily available for Routers: Wireless N, and Wireless AC.  AC being the newest, its has a much higher bandwidth frequency, which allows a lot more data to be packed into its waves, but is limited on how far that can reach out and maintain its integrity.  Wireless N has been around for quite some time, very tried and true.  Having a lower frequency, it has much more range, but is limited in speeds.  Many routers offer both of these technologies in a method called “Dual Band”, which essentially has both antennas inside the router.  So, when connecting your devices to a dual band router, choose which antenna to connect based on how much data you stream, and how far away you need the signal to stretch.

Who knows where the hose goes?

Once your devices are all connected to the router, the question is, do I have enough bandwidth this many devices, and what I’m doing online with them?  Think of bandwidth as water running through a hose.  The width of that hose, is based on the Bandwidth rating of the router.  For instance, N300s have a total of 300Mbps they can handle, versus an AC2400 series has 2400Mbps.  Obviously, the larger number allows more water through that hose.  Also consider, every time you connect another device to that router, it’s like adding a small straw that siphons off of the hose.  Depending on what you’re doing, that straw could be very tiny and unnoticed, or very large and drawing too much water out of the hose.  Higher end routers have a “smart” feature that essentially adds a valve system to your hose, and eliminates the concern for nay one device from overdrawing its water amount.  To decide how much bandwidth you need in your home or business, add up the number of wireless devices you connect.  For every one that does streaming for video, add 300, everyone that does audio streaming, add 100, every gaming device add 300, and every basic internet device add 50.  That total number will give you an idea on how high of a bandwidth rating you need to make a sound purchase.

Now blend it together.

So, we’ve covered your choices of range, quality of signal, and bandwidth capacity.  But what if none of that matters, because you have concrete walls, an unusually shaped home, or an excessive distance to cover?  Welcome to a wireless Mesh technology.  Mesh networks have been used primarily in businesses for some time now, but are just now being introduced into the consumer grade market as well.  A Mesh network take multiples of the same style router, and essentially “pairs” them together, so they are all one and the same on your network.  Cell phone towers are the easiest example of this idea.  As you’re driving long distances, your phone is constantly on the same provider network.  One tower simply “hands off” your phone signal to the next tower as you approach a new area.  This is exactly what a wireless mesh network can do for you.  The price may be greater, but you get all of the features you need to make wireless work in your home or business, in any situation.