WHAT IS A GOOD WI-FI SIGNAL STRENGTH?
Wi-Fi signal strength is a factor in measuring the speed and dependability of a wireless connection. A poor Wi-Fi signal strength can cause an unreliable and frustratingly slow internet connection. Most electronic devices (computers and smartphones) with capabilities to connect to a wireless network usually represent Wi-Fi signal strength with a 4-bar signal indicator. 0 – 1 bar is considered as a weak signal, 2-bar signal is fair, a 3-bar signal is quite good, and a 4-bar signal is excellent. These signal bars are a visual representation of the “Received Signal Strength Indicator” (RSSI).
HOW TO READ WI-FI SIGNAL STRENGTH
Wi-Fi signal strength is measured in dBm (decibel milliwatts), this then translates to an equivalent in the signal bar. RSSI is a measurement of the power available in a received Wi-Fi signal, and it’s represented in dBm. However, measuring Wi-Fi signal strength in dBm could be somewhat confusing as it is only expressed as negative values. The strength of a wireless signal ranges from -90 dBm (the weakest signal) to -30 dBm (the best signal). The closer this number is to 0, the strong the signal is. Overall, -80 dBm is considered to be the minimum Wi-Fi signal strength for basic connectivity, while -67 dBm is moderately good enough and could even handle streaming and some other relatively demanding tasks. So what should be considered as a poor, acceptable, or good Wi-Fi signal strength? The capabilities of each signal range is explained below:
From -90 dBm to -81 dBm: Indicated by a 0 – 1 bar signal level. It is a very weak signal and the chances of your device connecting are extremely low at this level.
From -80 dBm to -71 dBm: Indicated by a fluctuating 1 – 2 bar signal level. It provides unreliable signal strength, and will not sufficiently perform most services. It is only useful for connecting to a network.
From -70 dBm to -68 dBm: Indicated by a stable 2-bar signal level. The signal strength is quite fair and it’s useful for light browsing and checking email.
From -67 dBm to -61 dBm: Indicated by a fluctuating 2 – 3 bar signal level. The signal strength is somewhat reliable and it is usually the minimum required strength for any service that requires a reliable connection, such as Low definition video streaming and voice over Wi-Fi.
From -60 dBm to -51 dBm: Indicated by a stable 3-bar signal level. The signal strength is good and quite reliable.
From -50 dBm to -41 dBm: Indicated by a fluctuating 3 – 4 signal bar level. The signal strength at this level is very good.
-30 dBm: Indicated by a stable 4-bar signal level. Excellent signal strength. The level is at the maximum, which implies that the device is in a very close proximity to the access point.
HOW TO IMPROVE WI-FI SIGNAL STRENGTH
It is not difficult; neither is it necessarily costly to improve the WiFi signal strength. You can keep your current router while still improving the strength of your Wi-Fi signal. These include:
Improving the location of your router: It is important to situate your router in a place that is central, such that all the rooms in the living space can have significant and equal coverage. You don’t necessarily have to place the Wi-Fi router right next to the modem or gateway if the location is not central to every room. Also, if there are obstacles or the living space is irregularly shaped, it’s best to create a signal heatmap with a Netspot App and use it to locate areas of signal weakness.
Reduce sources of signal interference: Even though you may not be able to completely remove them, ensure that the router is not placed immediately next to sources of signal interference such as everything from large appliances to cordless phones, and wireless security cameras.
Find a more suitable Wi-Fi channel: Use the Netspot app to determine which Wi-Fi channels are the less-used and least busy. Use non-overlapping channels (like 1,6, and 11) to have the best performance and coverage in the 2.4 GHz band since they don’t experience cross-channel interference.
Secure your Wi-Fi network: Secure your Wi-Fi network with a strong-combination password to prevent malicious hackers from using your network to commit atrocities and to also avoid Wi-Fi leeches.
Update and restart your router: Just like your computers and smart devices, routers also receive software updates that improve their performance. Always endeavor to visit the router’s admin interface and check if there are any updates pending installation. Even if there aren’t any, it is recommended that you restart your router just to give it a fresh start every now and then.
You can consider replacing your Wi-Fi router with a newer and more efficient model if you’re still not pleased with the strength of your Wi-Fi signal. A new router will allow you to take advantage of the latest wireless technologies, which helps in eliminating signal weak zones and achieving consistently high data transfer speeds.
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