If the connection to your wireless network drops regularly or staff and customers are complaining about not getting a strong signal, there’s a good chance your wireless sucks. Good news! There’s something you can do about it if you’re willing to troubleshoot on your own and invest a little money to fix it.
One of the first things we do at Panology is assess your network and figure out what’s really going on. In some cases, it may not be your network that’s at fault; it may be the devices connecting to it. Sometimes it’s both!
Troubleshooting Wireless Networks and Devices
Here are some steps we recommend taking to troubleshoot wireless networks.
Turn it on and off. Really.
If you’re having problems with a particular device, such as a computer, tablet, or mobile phone, restart it. If the trouble happens when you’re video conferencing using Zoom, Webex, or another video app, try closing any applications you don’t need to have running while you video chat. This lessens the load on the device and helps it allocate resources to the video chat.
Sometimes your device just isn’t able to handle doing everything at the same time. If you need to video chat and work at the same time, take another device, like an old tablet or laptop, and turn it into a dedicated video conference machine.
Run speed tests
Once you take the device out of the equation, you can turn to the big question: Is the problem with your Wi-Fi network or with your internet service provider? Your internet connection comes from your internet service provider, like Windstream, Allo, or Bluestem or maybe Verizon or Google Fi. It’s the link from the outside that goes into your modem. Your Wi-Fi network, on the other hand, is specific to your building or office. It uses a router to beam your wireless internet around your space. Your ISP may have provided your modem and router or you may have purchased your own or had your IT service install them for you. Take your troubled device and get as physically close to the router as you can, turn the Wi-Fi off on the device, then turn it back on. (Yes, there’s a pattern here.) When the Wi-Fi is back on, visit speedtest.net or Google “internet speed test” and use the Measurement Lab internet speed test that pops up.
You’ll see two numbers, one for the upload speed and one for the download speed. Make note of them.
Then go to the part of your office or building where you or your staff have noticed slow Wi-Fi performance. Again, turn your device’s Wi-Fi off then back on, and run the speed test again, noting the upload and download speed numbers.
If your speed numbers are lower away from your router, you have a Wi-Fi problem. If speeds are about the same in both locations, and likely not so great, then you have a problem with your internet service. You may even have a dreaded “dead zone,” where signals are unable to travel reliably to and from the router. Large and oddly shaped buildings can have real problems with dead zones, sometimes due to the building materials used or the number of walls between the device and the router.
The speed you need depends on how many devices tap into your internet at the same time and what they’re doing—video conferencing takes more load than emailing, for example. Small offices may only need 100 MBps, while a building requires 1 GBps or higher. Your mileage will vary.
Solutions to Wi-Fi and Internet Service Problems
Adjust your Wi-Fi
- Make sure that your router runs 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. The 2.4 network is slower, but it can travel farther from the router. The 5 network is faster but can’t travel as far through walls and other obstacles. Try switching from one to the other to see which works better for your device.
- If possible, move the router to a more central location. Also, make sure you update the software and double-check you have a highly secure password for your network.
- Upgrade to a mesh network.
Adjust your internet service
Substandard internet speed may mean a technical glitch or your ISP is not providing you with the speed they promised.
- Restart your modem. Unplug it from power for 10 seconds, then plug it back in. This will clear the memory and may be all you need to do.
- Upgrade your modem. If your ISP will do this for you, great! If not, consider purchasing a new modem on your own or in coordination with your IT service.
- Complain to your ISP. If you’ve been promised 100 GBps and you’re only getting 20, that’s a problem. Complain and see what your ISP will do for you. Sometimes ISPs use shared resources, which means your connection is shared with other businesses or buildings, and if everyone is on Zoom, everyone’s connection is impaired accordingly. If your ISP isn’t open to helping solve your problem, find another ISP. (You may be tempted to spend more to upgrade to a faster speed, but use this as a last resort. Tell your ISP you’re going to test the speed, and if the higher tier doesn’t solve your problem, you’ll downgrade back to where you were.)
We want to help you get back to work. If you need help solving your Wi-Fi network problems, talk to us!