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WiFi is a household necessity; know more to get the most out of it

Douglas Pals

As important as WiFi (wireless Internet) is, knowledge about it is lacking. Since it’s unseen, to many it feels like magic. We aim to raise your level of WiFi IQ. Let’s explore some topics. WiFi is the only way to connect to the Internet for many devices such as tablets, and some newer laptops. Smartphone users will connect to WiFi when possible to speed up their connectivity or to avoid using their limited cellular data plan.

Bandwidth – Think of Internet bandwidth like it is delivering water. A 100 gallon connection can deliver more water more quickly than a 10 gallon connection. Equivalently, a 100Mb Internet connection can deliver more Internet more quickly than a 10Mb connection. The bandwidth capacity of the Internet connection to which the WiFi is connected is the most significant factor in how ‘good’ your WiFi will be.

WiFi Type Matters – Just because your WiFi indicator (the little fan-shaped icon on your screen) is showing a strong connection doesn’t mean it will be fast. Over the years WiFi technology has evolved. Old routers are just not as fast as today’s new routers. You may have heard of WiFi A, B, G, N or AC routers.

You don’t need to understand the features of each or when each version came out. Rather, you need to know if you don’t have an AC router today, your experience won’t be very good, even if you have a 100 gallon connection feeding your WiFi router.

What’s the deal with frequencies? Again, you don’t need to understand the geek-speak to make your WiFi experience better. Most AC routers are ‘dual band’ meaning they send out WiFi signals on two frequencies - 2.4GHz or 5GHz.

Before your eyes glaze over, all you need to know is 2.4 travels farther, but has less bandwidth, and 5 has a shorter range but more bandwidth. This combo is why routers are dual band, to give you the best WiFi coverage. Most newer devices (tablets, laptops, smartphone, etc.) select the frequency which will provide the best connection for you, and the device will switch frequencies if you change location or experience interference.

How many devices can I connect? Interestingly, while there is a limit, most often WiFi performance is influenced by what the devices are doing while connected to WiFi. If everyone is just checking or working on homework, no one will see any problems. But if 2 or 3 devices are streaming HD movies, others may experience slower connections if your bandwidth is limited.

IMPORTANT POINT – tying all this information together helps complete your understanding. If you have a 10 gallon connection, you would see slow downs, but if you have a 25, 50 or 100 gallon connection your experience will be much better.

Is Public WiFi safe?
Yes and No
• Most are safe for basic use
• Some prefer networks which require a password
• Best to not do secure activities like banking, shopping & payroll