What to do when your Wi-Fi is slow?
- Drastic Measures
Wi-Fi networking has become an integral part of our home internet experience. For most users everything just seems to work right out of the box, which is awesome! For a few of us, though, the Wi-Fi can take some tinkering to get right. We might experience patchy or flaky Wi-Fi that works sometimes or in some places, but not in others, or we might have a strong Wi-Fi signal but still have a slow online experience.
Optimising and troubleshooting a Wi-Fi network can be a complicated task, and for a variety of reasons Slingshot’s helpdesk staff are only able to offer limited support. That’s why we’ve put together this handy guide to help everyone get the most out of their home network.
We also recommend planning out your Wi-Fi network before having Fibre installed, because you are limited in where your gateway can be placed after the ONT has been installed. Do not sign off on the install plan for your fibre connection until you’re happy with where the technician is going to install the ONT and gateway.
You should be aware that Slingshot contact centre staff are not able to offer assistance with Wi-Fi issues beyond basic configuration. Everything in this guide is advanced set up. If you need further help you might have to bribe your friend that works in IT with a box of beer to come and have a look.
Setting up your Wi-Fi network correctly can take some time and patience, but it’s worth it in the long run. We will need to take a number of things into consideration when we design our home networks. These are:
- Primary use
- Household coverage
- Number of users
Primary use will dictate where the modem or gateway will live in your house. The shape and construction of your house may require fine tuning of the modem placement. And the number of users will determine if more advanced options, like multiple networks, are necessary.
Our first consideration must be “what will my primary use of the internet be?” If you have a big fancy smart TV (or Chromecast, or Apple TV, etc.) and you will usually be watching HD video streamed from the internet then you will want your modem to be in the same room as your TV. For most people this will be the lounge or living room, but it could be in your bedroom or home theatre. If you are primarily a gamer then the modem needs to be in the same room as your PC or console. In fact, for gaming, you should use a physical Ethernet, or network, cable for your gaming device, as Wi-Fi can introduce extra latency (ping, lag), which is no good for you K/D ratio. For most users, who share their internet connection with a number of family members or flatmates, the modem or gateway will be best located as centrally in the house as possible, to get the best coverage overall.
At this stage we’re being very general, and just choosing the rooms. Once you know which room in the house will be best, we need to decide where in the room the modem will live. You’ll be constricted by the position of power outlets and phone jacks. Using extension cables isn’t ideal, but might be necessary.
Set your modem up wherever is the most convenient in your chosen room, as long as it’s not sitting on the floor. Modems left on the floor, or in dusty areas, tend to need replacing the soonest.
Remember that especially thick walls, or ones made out of concrete or stone (like a chimney), or large electrical appliances (fridges, TVs, etc.) can block your Wi-Fi signal and cause a “shadow”.
To see what your Wi-Fi coverage is like around your home we recommend using free mobile apps, like “Wi-Fi Analyzer” by Farproc. Remember that Slingshot staff are not able to help you with downloading, installing, or using 3rd party software/applications.
Wi-Fi Analyzer has a number of different screens that you can swipe between, but the most helpful one is the signal strength graph.
In the above screen shot you can see that there are quite a number of Wi-Fi networks nearby. You can also see that they are concentrated around the 1, 6, and 11 channels, which are the default Wi-Fi channels for many manufacturers. Channels 3, 4, 8, and 9 are the least congested channels. Think of Wi-Fi channels like channels on a walkie-talkie. If 4 people are trying to have 2 separate conversations on 1 channel then there will be a lot of confusion. If 2 people take their conversation to a different channel then the situation is improved for everybody. Take your smart phone around the house and note which channel is the least congested in the areas that you want to use your Wi-Fi.
Once you’ve chosen the best channel to use you’ll set to select it in your modem or gateway. If your modem was supplied by Slingshot then follow the below. If you got your modem somewhere else then refer to your manual, or search online for instructions (i.e. Google: set Wi-Fi channel Dynalink RTA 1025w)
Log into your modem [[link to Logging in to your NetComm modem/router]], and in the left hand menu click “Wireless”, then “Advanced” under that. There should be a drop-down menu for “channel”. Set this to your chosen channel, and click “Apply/Save”.
Once you’ve set your preferred channel click the “Apply/Save” button at the bottom of the page.
Now it’s time for the second tour of the house. Swipe left in the Wi-Fi Analyzer app to find the Signal Meter screen:
(If the needle stays at -100dBm you might need to tap on your Wi-Fi name and reselect it to get the needle moving.)
Take your smart phone around the house to the places where you will want to use your Wi-Fi and take a look at your signal strength. Ideally you should be in the green everywhere you’ll use Wi-Fi. If so, great! Leave the modem where it is. If not, try shifting the modem around in its room, moving it into a different corner, or lifting it to a higher shelf. Small adjustments in position can have a big impact on signal strength.
It may take some time to find a position that gives good coverage, and it may even be impossible to eliminate all of the dead spots around your house. This is because of how complex Wi-Fi interference can be. See how there are strong and weak points in each room of the below Wi-Fi strength visualisations:
You can read the paper that we borrowed these images from here https://jasmcole.com/2014/08/25/helmhurts/.
You should also bear in mind that cordless telephones, microwave ovens, and other appliances cause wifi interfereance
Finally, we need to look at how many devices will use the wifi network concurrently. 6 or fewer devices probably won’t need any further set up. If you have more than that you might need to enable QoS (Quality of Service) in your modem. Again, this is an advanced setting which Slingshot contact centre staff cannot offer assistance with.
QoS will allow you to pick a specific device or devices that you want to have high priority, so that your video streaming or online gaming experience isn’t degraded by other devices on your wifi network. Only set one or two devices with high priority; if everything has high priority then nothing does.
To set up QoS follow this guide published by Netcomm:
Or read the QoS section of the Netcomm NF4V user manual:
If you’ve taken care to optimise your Wi-Fi network but are still not getting the online experience that you’re hoping for then there is some troubleshooting that you can try.
Firstly, if your Wi-Fi is running slowly, try turning your modem and computer/device off for at least 30 seconds, then turning them back on again. If things have not improved try plugging a laptop into the modem with an Ethernet cable and turning off the Wi-Fi (there is a physical button on the back or side of your Slingshot supplied modem, or you can turn it off in the modem menu under basic wireless settings). This will make sure that your diagnosis isn’t compromised by another user downloading something in the background. With the Ethernet cable plugged in try browsing, streaming, or gaming, whatever it is that isn’t working properly over Wi-Fi. If things don’t improve then your broadband connection might be at fault. If possible, you can try with another modem borrowed from friends or family. If that improves your experience and you received your modem from Slingshot less than a year ago gives us a call to arrange a warranty replacement.
If using an Ethernet cable does improve your connection then try changing the channel your Wi-Fi is set to, using the steps outlined in the “optimising” section above. If this doesn’t seem to help then older devices might be slowing down your Wi-Fi network.
Occasionally poor Wi-Fi performance can be caused by older devices slowing down newer ones. Wi-Fi devices use either the b, g, or n standard (n being the newest and fastest). You can choose to lock out b and g devices so only n devices can connect, which should improve their speeds.
Log into your modem, and in the left hand menu click “Wireless”, then “Advanced” under that. There should be a drop-down menu for “Support 802.11n Client Only”. Set this to “On”, and click “Apply/Save”.
Older devices will now be unable to join your Wi-Fi network. Test your laptops, smart phones, consoles, etc., to see which ones cannot connect to the Wi-Fi anymore. These devices will need to be replaced, upgraded, connected to the modem by an Ethernet cable, or used off-line. You can turn the “Support 802.11n client only” setting off again if you need to have one of your older devices online.
If you’re noticing that you lose your connection frequently on your Wi-Fi network the first thing to try is to turn off your modem and device for at least 30 seconds before rebooting.
Next, try updating your wireless network drivers for your PC or laptop.
If that hasn’t helped use the Wi-Fi Analyzer app to see if there’s a stronger Wi-Fi signal using the same channel, and move yours to a different one if so.
Disconnections can also be caused by interference from other appliances, like cordless telephones, or microwaves. Do you notice that your disconnections are more frequent when some other electronic appliance is in use? If so, move the modem further away from that appliance. Most cordless phones allow you to change the channel they are using, check your user manual.
If the above optimising and troubleshooting steps have not resolved your Wi-Fi issues then it might be necessary to try something different. The following are suggestions, not recommendations. We do not recommend customers spend money in an attempt to resolve technical issues because we cannot guarantee that whatever you purchase will resolve your issue, and we do not offer any kind of compensation for additional equipment purchased that fails to resolve your issue.
If you do decide to purchase additional equipment discuss return options with the store staff in case you’re not happy with the device performance.
Slingshot contact centre staff cannot offer any assistance with the below suggestions.
These devices can be set up some distance from your modem to increase your coverage area. Especially handy for multi-level homes. Not ideal for gaming or VoIP as they can introduce additional latency.
If you have a spare modem with Wi-Fi then you may be able to configure it to behave as a “wireless bridge” or a “repeater”. Check your user guide.
Plug one of these into a power socket near your modem and another near any device(s) that are not getting a good Wi-Fi signal. The powerline adapters will use your electrical wiring to distribute your network around your home.
If you are an ADSL or VDSL customer you can purchase a new modem. If you are a fibre customer you should not replace your Slingshot supplied RGW, but you can buy a router or wireless access point to use with your RWG. If you’re considering a new modem talk to the sales staff at your electronics store about your needs (media streaming, gaming, size of and number of floors in your house). Look for something with Dual Band Wi-Fi, supporting 2.4GHz and 5Ghz channels. You may need to also purchase a USB 5GHz Wi-Fi adapter for your computer or laptop. Some modems and routers will allow you to set up a 2nd Wi-Fi network on a separate channel which will allow you to have a dedicated channel for streaming or gaming.
Dual band modems: https://www.pbtech.co.nz/index.php?z=c&p=modems&fs=655135
Dual band routers: https://www.pbtech.co.nz/index.php?z=c&p=wireless&fs=655149
Dual band adapters: https://www.pbtech.co.nz/index.php?z=c&p=wi-fi-adapters&fs=655152
You can combine a powerline adapter kit with a new Wi-Fi router if necessary.