Ways of improving Wifi Performance
Over the years working in a Technical Support team for one of the largest Android device retailers in the UK one of the most common issues i saw was questions regarding WIFI performance.
Why is my new device connecting at this speed when my PC connects at this? or Why does my device pause when playing a video and say Buffering?
WIFI causes so many device issues so how can you improve yours? What are the options open to me? How does this effect my Kodi experience ?
The quality of your connection can play a massive part in your overall Kodi experience but download speed is not everything but it certainly helps. We have have covered Buffering in Kodi before on a previous blog which can be read HERE.
First things first I have always recommended that you connect your Kodi streaming device via a quality Ethernet Cable Cat5 or Cat6 but to some of us this is not an option which is fully understandable. If like me i have a device in each room to have Ethernet cable running to all of them would be a nightmare.
Troubleshooting your network’s wireless performance can seem a nightmare at times , until you consider that there are really just two main factors to consider—range and speed. Yes, you can have one without the other. For example, it’s great to have a super-fast wireless network, but if you only get decent speed when your Device is right next to the router, then the speed isn’t worth much.
You need to boost the signal’s range. If your device can barely open an add-ons when you’re in the same room as the router, then we’re talking about problems with speed.
So what Can you do i will look at a few simple steps
Get a better router
One of the easiest – but not the cheapest option – ways to make sure your Wi-Fi is as good as possible is to get a new router. These days, routers usually come as standard with broadband packages from your Internet Service Provider. They use multiple antennas, so you get faster Wi-Fi over a greater range than you do with an older style routers.
So, if your router’s a few years old you’re likely to be able to get a better one by now. The router is so important is like having a Porsche and running it on a 1.0 litre engine you will not get the full benefit of your connection speed.
However, a decent router could set you back over £100, before you do, contact your current provider and see if you can get them to send you their latest router for free – this would normally involve you taking out a new contract or extending the contract. If like me and you are happy with your current provider then this is not an issue. This will mean you will get their latest spec modem free and only have to stump up a small amount for post and packaging costs.
You never Know if you don’t ask you don’t get!
I personally hate all the routers that the ISP’s ship as they are not the best option for you as you can image the ISP is sending out thousands of these devices so wants to supply the cheapest available option to them to keep their costs at a minimum and gain the maximum profit from your yearly contract.
After working in tech support the worst router i have come across is the Virgin Media Super Hub since router is the sole cause of my shiny grey hair. I recommend you check out their forums as its littered with thousands and thousands of customers having various issues but the main one being WIFI speed and Stability.
I would personally recommend investing in a decent router as it can make an amazing difference my router at home and personal favorite is Netgear Nighthawk there are expensive but they are superb as they are tri-band ans since investing in mine i have never looked back.
So what is Tri-Band i here you ask? to put it simply its three wifi network bands the standard 2.4 and two 5.0ghz designed to automatically balance the network ensuring the best WiFi performance and maximum range for each device.
Update Your Routers Firmware
Maybe it’s the software you’re using. Routers need software updates just like everything else—and sometimes the firmware they initially ship with is improved with a later-released update. Such a simple option and definitely worth checking out. Another option i will talk about under this heading is Network bands as i covered very briefly above some of the newer routers are dual band or tri band. Most of the ISP Routers are dual band. In the past for example with the Virgin Super Hub seems to connect better to 5Ghz band giving my customers a much better speed to stream with. The only downside of 5ghz is the range i would only use if the wireless device is in the same room as the router. A lot of the newer Android devices like the T8 V3 are compatible with the 5GHZ option and it makes a hell of a difference to this devices wifi performance.
Change Your Routers WIFI Channel
Another very simple option, Routers operate on specific channels. When you set up a typical router, it usually chooses a certain channel by default. Some routers choose the least-crowded channel, but yours may not have. Check for yourself which WiFi channel is the least crowded to boost the router’s performance, perhaps boosting signal range. . You can change the channel of your router by going into its interface. All routers have different ways to access the interface, so check with your ISP. I had this issue in the past as my next door neighbors router was running the same channel which caused issues with my wifi signal. Changing the channel made an amazing amount of difference to my home network.
Update Kodi Device Firmware
Just like routers, Devices or network adapters on PCs if using that for Kodi are subject to firmware updates. Remember, good wireless range and performance is dictated not just by the router but also by the network adapter on clients.Most pc’s have on-board adapters. Go into your Network settings to find the name of the adapter (via the Control Panel in Windows OS) and then to that corresponding manufacturer’s website to make sure you have the latest firmware. In the case of Android device firmware go to the site you purchased your device from any decent retailer will have a section of newer firmware for your device. This is the case for our advertising partner Entertainment Box they have even brought out an app to help you with this. You can read our blog on that HERE
Change the Routers position
Another common fault is the position of your router and even a slight 45 degree angle change can make immense difference i have witnessed this first hand when speaking to a customer on a tech call. Do you have your wireless router nestled up against the broadband modem, tucked away in the entertainment center Move it, if you have range issues. You don’t have to have the router in close proximity to your modem. Ideally, a Wi-Fi router should be in a central location. If you need more flexibility in centrally positioning the router, you can purchase custom-length Ethernet Cat 5 cable.
Where you position your router can make a huge difference to the quality of your Wi-Fi. Try to put it in the middle of your home so the signal can reach all the rooms, or at least the ones where you are mostly likely to want WiFi.
Ideally, put your router high up,without any clutter around it. Don’t be tempted to put it in a cupboard – it needs to be out in the open and away from obstructions if you’re going to get a good signal.
Interference is another major issue i will cover under this heading.
Other people’s wireless routers, cordless phones, microwaves, baby monitors and even fish tanks can interfere with your Wi-Fi signal and slow it down. Try to keep other electrical appliances – and fish – away from your router.
Upgrade your antenna
Although newer routers, such as the Virgin Media Super Hub, don’t have an external antenna, older models like the Plusnet Thomson 585v8 often do. The antennas supplied with most routers that have them use an omni-directional signal – one that fires out in all directions. This means if you put your router near an exterior wall it could be sending half the signal outside your home, weakening your Wi-Fi.
If you have a router with an external antenna, you can improve your Wi-Fi signal by getting a high-gain antenna, which will direct the signal to a general area you want Wi-Fi. Alternatively, if it’s possible to place your router centrally in your house get an omni-directional high-gain antenna, which should make the Wi-Fi signal stronger all round your home. D-Link and TP-Link both do a bunch of omni-directional high-gain antennas.
As we’ve said already, newer routers usually have built-in antennas, so make sure it’s possible to replace the antenna on your router before splashing out on a new one. If you have a router with a built-in antenna, it may be worth giving a USB wireless adapter a try. Plugging one directly into your computer or laptop will make it better at picking up Wi-Fi.
Set Up a Second Router as an Access Point or Repeater
You can set up just about any router as a wireless access point. To do so, you need to connect the second router’s LAN port to the primary router’s LAN port. If your primary router’s IP address is 192.168.2.1 and its netmask is 255.255.255.0, you could make the second router’s IP 192.168.2.2 and use the same netmask. It’s also important that you assign the same SSID and secruity on the second router and turn DHCP off on the second one as well.
Newer routers make this process easier. If you have a second router that’s only about a year old, it can probably be set to operate in “access point” or repeater mode. Configuring is often as simple as clicking a button (in the UI). Check your router’s manufacturer or documentation. You can also just purchase a dedicated access point. This is a more expensive option, but will likely save you some network-configuration headaches. Your best bet, if you go this route, is to use an access point from the same manufacturer as your router.
Purchase a repeater/ Wifi Extender
If like me you are lucky enough to live in a mansion only kidding. A wireless repeater can improve the range of your Wi-Fi by bouncing – or repeating – the signal over a greater distance. They are not quite as effective as powerline adapters, but popular models like the Huawei Wi-Fi Repeater and the Netgear Universal WiFi Range Extender will cost you around £50, so they are generally cheaper. They’re easier to set up too – you simply position the repeater roughly halfway between your router and the room you want your WiFi to reach.
Get a wireless powerline adapter
I have recommended these in the past to a lot of customers. Wireless powerline adapters – also known as home plugs – use the internal wiring in your house to relay Wi-Fi to parts of your home your router struggles to reach. They’re not cheap, but they be very effective.
Basically, a wireless powerline adapter can create a Wi-Fi hotspot wherever you’ve got a free plug socket. They’re ideal for getting Wi-Fi up to a loft conversion, for example. However, while wireless powerline adapters can work very well, improved coverage isn’t guaranteed. Devolo, Netgear and TP-Link are all reputable producers of wireless powerline adapters.
Secure your Wi-Fi
If you don’t have a Wi-Fi password then anyone within range of your Wi-Fi can use your broadband. Not only will this slow it down, it could also land you in trouble with the law if a freeloader uses your internet for p2p or torrents as you’re responsible for what it’s used for. I have seen in the past people who’s routers are on the window ledge with the passwords on the back of the router facing outwards and wondering why there are large groups of teenagers on their phones hanging around outside their house. The more devices using your connection will have an effect on your devices wifi performance.
Contact your provider
Your broadband provider should want make sure you’re having the best experience possible. So, if you’ve tried the previous steps and your Wi-Fi still seems poor, give your provider a call and ask if there’s anything they can do to help. They may be able to offer you advice specific to your broadband package, do something from their end, or get an engineer to visit you to investigate and on going issues.
Hopefully this blog will help a few of you out and improve your overall Kodi experience and go some way to get rid of the dreaded sight of buffering on your device.
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