By Paul Routledge, Country Manager UK and Ireland, D-Link

In 2021, companies are increasingly embracing either full Work from Home (WFH) policies, or hybrid solutions, and people are increasingly relying on the internet for online services and shopping. Never before have we depended so much on Wi-Fi and connected devices to carry on living our lives.

As a result, it's crucial to ensure that you are getting the most out of your home Wi-Fi network - to not only support you as you work from home, but also as a means of entertainment and staying connected to the outside world.

First, let's set the scene...

Dad is on a conference call in the dining room, mum is online shopping in the living room, the twins are distance-learning on their tablets, their brother is online gaming in his bedroom, and their sister is binge-streaming her favourite TV shows while posting on social media. Lest we forget the abundance of connected IoT devices throughout the home already, from IP cameras to voice-activated smart speakers - all are battling for bandwidth simultaneously, all day, every day, for what could be months on end.

If this sounds familiar, then perhaps it's time to consider the following tips to get the most out of your home Wi-Fi network and give your router a helping hand it deserves during these trying times.

1.     Selecting the appropriate router for the job

In times like these, it's important to remember the unsung hero of the modern smart home, the Wi-Fi router - from surveillance to gaming, 4K streaming to video calling, none of it would be possible without a dependable Wi-Fi router. And as smart homes become smarter and more devices compete for a piece of the Wi-Fi action - make sure the "internet box with the antennae things sticking out that sits in the corner" is up-to-date, positioned well and functioning at its utmost best is.

So, what's the best router to go for? Well, for optimal connectivity you want to be running at least an 11ac (Wi-Fi 5) router (preferably with Gigabit WAN connectivity), and at best, the latest standard, 11ax (Wi-Fi 6) which, as well as Gigabit WAN connectivity, has been specifically designed for optimal performance in device-dense areas. Operating with a staggering 4 times greater capacity and 25% faster speeds for a wealth of connected devices - perhaps it's time to give your home the Wi-Fi upgrade it deserves, with a Wi-Fi 6 router.

2.     Put your Wi-Fi to the test, the speed test!

If you're concerned about your Wi-Fi connection but aren't sure how to go about fixing it - there are few ways you can test the speed of your Wi-Fi online, on your laptop's browser or even on your mobile device through a number of different online platforms offering ‘internet speed tests'. However, some clever Wi-Fi routers now come with built-in internet speed tests, powered by Ookla®, that let you check the true performance capabilities on both the uplink and downlinks in different rooms throughout your home.

Note, it's important to identify areas around the house where the Wi-Fi is performing significantly worse so that the next steps in improving your Wi-Fi network can be taken. 

3.     It's time to set your router free

Yes, as simple as it sounds - move your router! A straight-forward re-positioning of your Wi-Fi router to a better location can maximise its potential. Contrary to popular practice - Wi-Fi routers do not work best when stuck in the corner, out of sight, nor do they function well beside any large metal surfaces like refrigerators or microwaves.

For optimal performance place your Wi-Fi router out in the open, if practical, equidistant from the floor and ceiling and in a central location within your home. After all, it is transmitting a radio signal, and therefore, open space will allow it to work as efficiently as possible.

This should result in improved conference call quality, video streaming, as well as the whole household getting the connection they need when they need it.

4.     Reach further with a Wi-Fi extender

Placing your Wi-Fi router in what would be your home's optimal location may not always be practical. So, wherever your router cannot go, a handy plug-in Wi-Fi range extender can. It boosts your existing Wi-Fi signal even further throughout your home, and what's more, they are easy to set-up and use the same network ID as your current Wi-Fi.

5.     Maybe it's time to mesh things up a little

For homes that often experience Wi-Fi dead zones, whether your home office is on the fourth floor of your town-house or the kids play online gaming in their rooms at the end of the hallway, with whole-home mesh Wi-Fi systems your entire home is blanketed in one high-speed Wi-Fi mesh network.

It works by placing several units (usually two or three) around your home that pair with one another to create a stable, consistent and seamless Wi-Fi mesh network that fits everyone's needs.

So, say "good-bye" to buffering, because you'll never have to wait for Wi-Fi again with the latest whole-home mesh Wi-Fi networks.

6.     Go Mobile with 4G

There's a number of reasons that a home worker could live with the more basic set-up, but its not optimal. Working while the kids are at home, competing for bandwidth with another home worker or a large sized house can all have an affect on your network. Having a separate 4G network could be the solution to your work from home needs.

4G is a potential solution for any worker who requires an added layer of security, or just a separate network. If you work with peoples data, its probably safer to use a separate network rather than share with your kids on TikTok. Whether you use the 4G network yourself or set it up to keep the children separate is up to you. Our 4G products include built-in dual-active firewalls (SPI and NAT) and the latest WPA/WPA2 wireless encryption helps keep your wireless network secure and your traffic safe.

4G also can have advantages over fixed line, particularly in rural areas where line speeds are slow, another advantage is its an instant set up - plug in a sim and go.

Looking ahead

During these trying times, for as long as they may last, it is important to ensure your home Wi-Fi is operating at peak performance - especially if you, and others at home, rely on it for your day job and especially where children's education is concerned. And in the spirit of community, it is also vitally important to be able to keep in touch with family and friends across the globe.

Are the above techniques working? If not, perhaps it may be time to upgrade to the Wi-Fi network your home deserves.

Until next time, stay connected... and protected.