Love your router like you love your phone

Wi-Fi routers are one of the most important pieces of technology in a home or small business, but is often the piece of gear that is least often thought about.

Flicking through the Stuff website a couple of days ago, we came across a great article they have posted about why Wi-Fi feels so slow sometimes. The Stuff article, which they reproduced and de-Americanised from a more detailed, Washington Post piece, started us thinking, especially as we regularly get questions about the speed of internet and quality of Wi-Fi that is needed to run CleverLoop. Our first piece of advice is, love your router like you love your phone! Why’s that you ask…?

This may seem like an unusual thing to say as the router is just that bit of tech kit that collects dust as it sits on a shelf, in a cupboard or behind your set-top box. It is however, one of the most important pieces of technology that you own! Everything in your home or small business connects through it: smart phones, desktops, laptops, smart TV’s, eftpos machines and smart camera security systems just to name a few.

With all of these devices running, your router, usually a Wi-Fi capable router, is doing a lot of work. If you’ve ever been on your phone and hit the point where it’s faster to surf the web using your phone’s 3 or 4G connection rather than local Wi-Fi, then you’re experiencing the Wi-Fi speed issue first hand.

Wi-Fi speeds in your home or small business can sometimes be slower than connecting through your phone's 4G network. So why is this and what can you do?

Wi-Fi speeds in your home or small business can sometimes be slower than connecting through your phone’s 4G network. So why is this and what can you do?

To solve this issue, it’s important to run through a couple of basics first.

The Difference Between Internet Connection and Wi-Fi

These two phrases can be mixed up sometimes, so let’s run through the difference first.

Internet Connection

Your internet connection is simply the link to the outside world, it’s the data feed that goes to and from your home or small business to the world wide web. This connection, which is generally via a cable of some sort, is sometimes easier to think of as a pipe that takes and receives data. Like other pipes it has a certain maximum rate of flow, but in this case it’s how quickly data can flow through it.

Your connection may be ultra fast broadband, using fibre; it may be ADSL or VDSL which uses older copper cables out in the street; or for some people it is a non-cabled connection, especially if you live rural or away from a standard cable connection.

The type of connection (and how much you pay) determines the flow rate. If your data flow is more like a dripping tap than a fully pressurised fire hose, then even the best router won’t speed up your ability to access the internet.

One other thing about your internet connection to remember is that the company that sells you access to the internet (your internet service provider or ISP) may cap the amount of data it lets you have each month before you have to pay for extra.

Wi-Fi 

Once the internet connection, or ‘data pipe’ into your property is available, you then need to connect devices to it. The router is the piece of gear that does this. You can connect your devices to the router with a data cable (also called ethernet cable), or you can connect using a Wi-Fi signal that is produced by your router. Most of us use this Wi-Fi signal to connect our phones when we are at home. Computers and security cameras are often able to connect with either a cable or a via Wi-Fi.

However, even with the fastest of ultra-fast broadband connections, if your router is performing badly then you just won’t have fast speeds on your phone or computer. If your router is old, slow or has out of date firmware inside it, then it’s ability to send and receive data can be pretty poor and it may not be able to support all the devices that you want to connect to it.

Cable connecting your devices to a router, rather than using the router’s Wi-Fi signal, can significantly increase speed. This is because data can travel down a cable pretty much as fast as the devices at either end can send and receive it, whereas Wi-Fi signals tend to quite a bit slower than, and reduce in strength and quality the further you are from your router, or the more walls and solid objects there are between the router and you. Go to the far corner of your home, or out into the garden, and you may not be able to access your Wi-Fi at all.

Internet and Wi-Fi Requirements for Running Security Cameras

Quality of Internet Connection

The great news is that CleverLoop doesn’t need a really fast internet connection to run really well. We’ve got customers all over New Zealand using ADSL, VDSL and even satellite or 4G routers to run standard 720p High Definition CleverLoop cameras.

CleverLoop camera systems can do this because the Base Station unit only sends data offsite via your internet connection when an alert is triggered or you live view a camera. It’s not streaming data the rest of the time, which makes it incredibly efficient on data use. If you do have a very slow internet connection then your live view may be slightly less smooth, but will still run, especially if you live view your cameras in lower resolution.

Some other security camera systems stream continuous video via your internet connection. This does use a lot of bandwidth and takes some people close to, or even over their monthly data cap.

Quality of Wi-Fi Router

Your main consideration is likely to be the quality of your router, it’s processing speed and Wi-Fi signal quality. Not all routers are created equal, and there is a reason that ISP’s give routers away for free when you sign up….often the quality isn’t great.

We recommend a router that has a speed of over 400Mbps, though Gigabit capability (1000Mbs) is ideal, and future proofs you for adding more or higher resolution cameras to your system in the future . A 400Mbps router can handle 4 cameras running at 720p without any issue. Here is a link to an article we wrote a while ago on minimum router specs.

Love Your Router!

The other thing to do is love your router! Don’t leave it in the corner, alone and unloved. Clean the dust off it every now and then, check it a couple of times a year to see if the manufacturer has created any firmware updates. You can check for firmware updates on the manufacturer’s website, or if the router is an ISP supplied one, have a look on that ISP’s website. And just like you upgrade phones every now and again, it’s not a bad idea to think about how old your router is and whether a newer model will give you stronger Wi-Fi signals and allow it to better handle all the devices you are throwing at it!

 

References:

https://www.stuff.co.nz/technology/digital-living/95032280/why-your-wifi-feels-so-slow-sometimes

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2017/07/20/why-your-wifi-feels-so-slow-sometimes/?utm_term=.b47d30ade5c5

by CleverLoop Team
July 28, 2017