Getting faster home Internet speeds can be exciting, but not being able to achieve those speeds on WiFi (wireless) connections can be disappointing. WiFi speeds can vary on each device due to device limitations and environmental factors. That said, there are a few ways you can optimize your WiFi experience.

 

Wired vs WiFi

There are two ways to connect to the your home Internet: wirelessly via WiFi, or with a wired Ethernet connection. There are advantages to both, depending on your needs, your home layout, and your devices.

A wired connection is recommended for stationary devices like desktop computers and game consoles that need a more stable connection. The only way to achieve your Internet plan's higher speeds consistently is on a wired Ethernet connection, provided your device is capable.

A WiFi connection is recommended for mobile devices like laptops, smart phones, and tablets. Many factors within your home, such as the environment and device limitations, can cause varied speeds over WiFi. WiFi speeds should not be expected to reach the maximum provided by your Internet plan in most cases.

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WiFi bands (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz)

WiFi operates on two bands: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. A dual band WiFi modem can provide access to both on your home network.

The 2.4 GHz signal:

  • is a wider frequency, so it's able to more easily pass through walls and other obstructions to provide more range
  • is an older signal, it isn't able to transmit as much data between devices and thus offers slower speeds
  • is vulnerable to interference from other devices in the home, especially at longer range

The 5 GHz signal:

  • is a narrower frequency that's not able to pass through objects
  • covers less distance than the 2.4 GHz signal, but carries more data, allowing for much faster speeds at close range
  • is the recommended, when available, for the best wireless experience

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Device limitations

Depending on when a device was manufactured, it may not be able to reach the top speeds offered by your internet plan. This is true, regardless of whether the device is wired directly to the modem or operating in an ideal WiFi environment. Many devices made prior to 2015 are incapable of reaching speeds over 100 Mbps. Some devices lack the capability because high speeds aren't deemed necessary for use.

If you're unsure of your device's speed capabilities, we recommend that you check its technical specifications or contact the device's manufacturer about potential upgrades or updates that might improve its performance.

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WiFi interference

Interference can prevent your devices from reaching higher speeds over WiFi. The source of interference can include physical barriers like wall materials and competition from other home electronics.

For more information on WiFi interference and how to mitigate it, read WiFi Interference.

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