What Is Your Wi-Fi Internet Network Quality And How Do You Measure It?

Wi-Fi Internet

What Is Your Wi-Fi Internet Network Quality And How Do You Measure It?

It seems like a lifetime ago, but there was once a time when nobody had WIFI. If you needed internet access you had to physically plug your computer into the telephone network using an ethernet cable – whoever your business internet provider was, your computer was quite literally tied to your desk.

WIFI freed the internet and gave us the ability to move. In an office situation you can access your documents and information through your device at your desk, at a colleague’s desk, in a meeting room, or anywhere else in the building. In a retail environment you can take your device out onto the shop floor as you do stock checking or ordering. WIFI has gone from unknown to ubiquitous in less than two decades and it has changed the way we work forever.

But just like business internet providers not all WIFI is equal. Your business internet provider might be supplying good internet speeds to your router, but you may still have noticed that it takes longer to download files in parts of your office, or that there is that one meeting room that is hopeless for video conferencing.

This is because the mobility that WIFI internet gives us is also the source of its only real weakness – the further away from the source of your WIFI internet you take your device, the weaker the signal becomes and so the lower the quality of your WIFI internet.

Business Internet Provider

So How Do I Measure The Quality Of My WIFI Internet?

That is a good question – and fortunately the answer is fairly straightforward. Your business internet provider supplies your broadband either through cables or wirelessly into the router which then broadcasts the WIFI signal within your building.

The speed at which your broadband can send and receive data over the internet is measured in “megabits per second” (Mbps), or if you have a business internet provider such as Luminet which can offer superior speeds “gigabits per second” (Gbps). A “bit” is the basic unit of digital information. A “megabit” is one million bits, a “gigabit” is a billion bits. Basically the higher the number of bits per second your business internet provider can accommodate the faster and smoother your internet experience will be.

It should be noted however that those speeds are measured at your router. Up to that point your business internet provider can influence your internet speeds to some degree and most will guarantee to provide a basic minimum speed below which their service will not fall. Beyond the router your business internet provider has no control and the actual speeds experienced by you and your staff will also be limited by the strength of your WIFI signal.

The strength of your WIFI signal is measured in “decibel milliwatts” or “dBm”. This measure is expressed as a negative value, so any meter you use to monitor the strength of your WIFI internet signal will display “-dBm”. This may seem confusing, but all you need to remember is that you are looking for the number displayed to be as low as possible – so “-30 dBm” would indicate better performance than “-50 dBm” and so on.

WIFI Internet

What Signal Strength Do I Need?

In an ideal world you will have -30 dBm. This is the strongest signal you can expect and if you are experiencing WIFI internet as strong as that it is likely that your device is positioned right next to the WIFI router. The further away from the router you go, the weaker your signal will be, although there are other factors which can also have an influence.

Your WIFI internet strength can fall as low as -60 dBm before you really notice any noticeable degradation of your experience. At that level your WIFI internet will still be able to cope with any of the online activity you are likely to require – VOIP, video conferencing, file transfer and video streaming should all work smoothly. If the quality of your WIFI internet signal drops much below -60 dBm however you will begin to notice some degradation.

Around -67 dBm you will find that data hungry applications such as video conferencing, although still functional will be less smooth and may begin to pixelate. Should the quality of your WIFI internet signal fall any further you will find such applications increasingly difficult to use, and by -70 dBm they will be effectively unavailable. Even at that level however, less data-hungry applications such as email and web browsing will still function. Data transfer will also continue to work, although files will take longer to transfer than they would if a better quality signal were available.

If the quality of your WIFI internet signal falls as far as -80 dBm it is unlikely that any internet functionality would be available.

From the point of view of somebody using your WIFI internet, the lower the dBm of the signal that is received in the area where they are working the lower the internet speed they experience will be. For example, if your business internet provider is giving you speeds of 100 Mbps at your router, somebody working in an area where the WIFI internet signal is -60 dBm may only be accessing the internet at 50 Mbps.

What Can I Do About The Quality Of My WIFI Internet Signal?

Check with your Business internet provider to make sure that the router you are using is getting a connection at the speeds you are contracted to receive, and that it provides a signal strength that is appropriate for your space. If you are using an appropriate router, do not be tempted to try and increase the strength of your router’s signal – this could interfere with neighbouring signals and do your connectivity more harm than good.

Beyond the router your business internet provider cannot do anything to improve your WIFI internet experience, but there are some very simple measures that you can take to alleviate any difficulties.

First of all, ensure that your router is in a central and elevated position, and that there are no substantial barriers between your router and areas where a strong WIFI internet signal is required. Thick concrete walls, for example, can be difficult for WIFI internet signals to penetrate. You should also make sure that your router is not positioned behind other electronic devices, such as computer monitors, which could also cause interference.

If you find that there are areas of your office or building where you need to have reliable WIFI internet but that simply cannot be reached by your router you may find that you need to use a repeater device. These devices re-broadcast your router’s signal allowing your WIFI internet to reach those difficult areas.

Better WIFI internet coverage is possible – speak to your business internet provider who will be happy to give you all the advice you need.

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