Slow WiFi speeds are annoying at the best of times. But when poor-performing broadband connections are harming productivity it’s time to take action.
There are several factors that can cause WiFi speeds to lag. These include network congestion, interference, signal attenuation and degradation, configuration and placement and several others.
To optimise the performance of a Wi-Fi network, it’s important to consider the specific requirements of your business operations, the devices you’re using and your IT environment.
Solutions include choosing the appropriate frequency band, managing channel selection, and addressing interference issues. We’ll take a look at this and more in this article.
If you want to know how to improve your WiFi speeds and productivity, we have answered your questions.
How Does Wi-Fi Frequency Contribute to the Performance of a Network?
The frequency at which a Wi-Fi network operates has a significant impact on its performance. Wi-Fi networks typically operate on two frequency bands: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz.
The lower frequency of 2.4 GHz provides better range and penetration through obstacles like walls and floors compared to the higher frequency of 5 GHz.
As a result, 2.4 GHz signals can cover a larger area, making it more suitable for larger spaces or areas with many obstacles. However, due to its wider coverage, the 2.4 GHz band can be more susceptible to congestion and interference.
The 2.4 GHz band is typically more crowded because it is shared with various devices and technologies, including Bluetooth devices, cordless phones, and other wireless networks. This congestion can lead to increased interference and reduced performance.
In contrast, the 5 GHz band offers more available channels and is typically less crowded, resulting in lower interference and better performance in environments with multiple Wi-Fi networks.
The 5 GHz band also supports higher data rates compared to the 2.4 GHz band. This higher bandwidth allows for faster data transfers, making it ideal for applications that require high-speed connections, such as video streaming, online gaming, and large file transfers.
But while the 5 GHz band offers higher speeds, its shorter wavelength makes it more susceptible to signal attenuation and interference from physical obstacles. Walls, floors, and other objects can weaken the 5 GHz signal more compared to the 2.4 GHz signal, reducing the range and coverage.
What is a Good Wi-Fi speed for UK businesses in London?
Broad-band-ly speaking (yeaaah, couldn’t resist), you should be targeting WiFi speeds of between 25-100 Mbps for your business network.
However, a “good” broadband connection depends on a number of factors:
- Number of users
- Business use
- Specific applications
To give you a ballpark figure, a small business of 5+ people ideally needs broadband speeds of 40Mbps+ to perform standard operations such as hosting an email client, supporting online browsing, uploading, downloading and sharing files and using cloud-based applications such as Microsoft 365.
If you’re experiencing lag or slower file transfers than you would ordinarily suspect, there’s a strong chance your ISP is short-changing you on promise and delivery.
You can test this easily by identifying your download speeds and comparing your WiFi performance against the country’s average.
According to Ofcom, the average WiFi speeds in the UK are 50.4 Mbps whilst download speeds are around 23 Mbps.
So check the download speeds you are supposed to be getting on your package. If your contract doesn’t promise high speeds then you probably should upgrade your package.
However, we appreciate most businesses are on the premium package in which case, check your WiFi speed here.
What Causes Wi-Fi Interference?
We’re going to assume that you’re already signed up for a premium broadband service that you expect to deliver adequate WiFi speeds that support your team.
If not, the first thing you should do is upgrade your package. If the internet package you have signed up for does not have the capacity to support the number of connected devices, the WiFi network needs more bandwidth.
Other factors that cause Wi-Fi interference are frequency bands, physical obstacles like walls, floors, furniture, and appliances, and neighbouring WiFi networks that are overlapping channels also cause interference.
In areas with dense populations or crowded office environments, multiple WiFi networks can coexist in close proximity. This congestion can lead to interference and increased competition for bandwidth, resulting in reduced speed and performance for all networks involved.
Even networks operating on different channels can experience interference if the channels overlap or if the signals bleed into adjacent channels. This co-channel interference occurs when the signals from nearby networks spill over into the intended channels, causing interference and degrading performance.
So if your office is part of a co-working space, check with your neighbouring businesses to determine whether they are also having problems with shoddy WiFi speeds.
Poor configuration and placement of WiFi routers or access points will also result in dead spots or weak signal areas within the network coverage area. Likewise, environmental factors such as physical obstructions, building materials (e.g., concrete, metal), and even weather conditions can impact WiFi signals.
Other environmental factors can include the location of your office. If you’re in a part of the country that does not receive good internet coverage, such as fishing villages and rural areas, you won’t get fast internet from traditional providers.
Living in deepest, darkest Kent, I know this from first-hand experience. Our home on top of the Kent Downs of Stalisfield receives measly internet speeds of around 1.5mbps through traditional broadband services.
This dramatically improved when I installed a 4G High Gain Antennae and Router with a Sim Card. This yielded 35mbps upload and downstream – a massive improvement, but still not good enough.
Fortunately, there is another solution. Starlink Satellite. Elon Musks, SpaceX has launched some 1700 satellites to “deliver high-speed broadband internet to locations where access has been unreliable or completely unavailable.”
We’ve previously published an article describing the wonders of Starlink Satellite. It’s well worth a read if you’re located in rural areas with a shabby internet connection.
Another issue may simply be because of the limitations of your devices. The capabilities and quality of WiFi receivers and antennas in devices vary. Some devices may have weaker WiFi components or older standards, resulting in poorer signal reception and slower speeds, even within areas of good coverage.
WiFi networks also require regular maintenance, including firmware updates, security patches, and performance optimisations. Failure to keep the network infrastructure up to date can result in degraded performance and vulnerabilities.
Our IT support specialists in London can assist with the maintenance of your WiFi network. We also troubleshoot specific devices that experience poor performance and, if necessary we can implement bandwidth management.
How To Improve Wi-Fi Speed?
There’s no one-size fits all solution to improve WiFi speed. First of all, you need to determine which of the reasons above are impacting the performance of your connection.
Some quick-fire solutions you can try are:
Position your Wi-Fi router or access point in a central location within your home or office. As we mentioned above, WiFi frequencies use either 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz. You can identify your GHz on the back of your router.
If you’re using a 5GHz, move the router closer to the device and try not to position it net to anything that weakens the signal.
Another quick fix is to check the firmware has been updated for your router. Manufacturers often release updates that improve performance, security, and compatibility.
If either of the above fail to improve your WiFi speed, you could try attaching an Ethernet cable between the router and the device. However, this solution will only work for a couple of devices, so if the entire office is affected, an ethernet connection is not a solution.
More advanced solutions include using a Wi-Fi analyzer tool to determine the least congested channel and manually set your router to operate on that channel. This can help reduce interference and improve signal quality.
You should also look into installing Wi-Fi range extenders or mesh systems. These devices help extend the Wi-Fi signal and eliminate dead spots, improving coverage and speed throughout the office.
Also, check to make sure that your WiFi connection is secure. If it isn’t password protected, there’s a possibility that an unauthorised user is accessing your network and consuming bandwidth.
How To Improve Wi-Fi Speeds at Home
Work-from-home employees may also experience difficulty with slow WiFi speeds. The most likely scenario here is that their home network doesn’t support the tools you use for business purposes.
In addition to the solutions above, you can also try a couple of things to improve WiFi speeds in private residences.
Firstly, check the quality and age of the router. Older models don’t support the latest Wi-Fi standards and technologies. Newer routers provide improved speed, range, and overall performance.
Ask your employee to limit bandwidth use. When multiple users are sharing the same network, the quality can suffer. And if your employees have children at home that are playing internet-based computer games, streaming or downloading music files, the strength of the connection may not be strong enough to support, say a video conference.
What Other Ways Are There To Improve Network Speeds?
Unstable or unsecured networks can also have a negative impact on your productivity. IT support specialists in London can remedy this problem by improving the High Availability of your network.
We do this by implementing technologies such as redundant network links, network bonding, or network virtualisation to ensure network availability. Redundant network paths help avoid single points of failure and improve overall network resilience.
To achieve High Availability, you need to introduce redundancy at various levels of the system architecture. This includes duplicating critical components such as servers, storage, network devices, and power supplies. Redundancy ensures that if one component fails, another can take over seamlessly, minimising downtime.
Implementing load balancing mechanisms to distribute traffic across multiple servers or resources. Load balancers help evenly distribute workloads, optimise resource utilisation, and ensure that no single server becomes overwhelmed or a single point of failure.
Our IT support professionals in London also design systems with failover capabilities, allowing services to automatically switch to a backup system or data centre in case of failure. We also recommend implementing robust disaster recovery plans that include regular backups, off-site storage and tested recovery procedures.
IT systems should also be built with scalability in mind. This can either be scaled horizontally or vertically, but either way, it has to be efficient enough to handle increased traffic or resource demands.
This usually involves adding more servers, storage capacity, or network bandwidth as needed to accommodate growth and maintain performance.
We also deploy comprehensive monitoring tools to track system health, performance metrics, and potential issues. Configure alerts to notify IT staff of any anomalies or critical events, enabling proactive response and minimising downtime.
In addition, we perform regular system maintenance tasks, including patching, firmware updates, and hardware inspections, to prevent potential issues. Proactive maintenance helps identify and address vulnerabilities or performance bottlenecks before they impact availability.
IT Support Specialists in London
Improving productivity often requires improving your IT infrastructure. Whether you need to ramp up your WiFi speeds or ensure you have a stable network that is available 99.999% of the time, Micro Pro’s IT support specialists in London design systems with fault-tolerant architectures that can withstand component failures without impacting overall availability.
With more than 25 years of servicing businesses in London and the surrounding areas, Micro Pro has earned a reputation as a leading IT support provider in London. And we’re still going strong.