Three-quarters of people could inadvertently be cooking up connection problems in their homes due to common misconceptions of what can interfere with WiFi signals – including placing routers too near to the microwave.
Research from Zen Internet has found that there is a distinct lack of knowledge among internet users that router position is important in relation to download speeds and connectivity; meaning dreaded buffering or screen freeze scenarios could possibly be avoided with a simple move around in the home.
The research revealed that:
75% of people don’t know that placing routers too close to a microwave can cause dodgy WiFi signals.
Four in ten (42%) of those polled were unaware that the centre of the home is the best place to put their router.
And almost a third (29%) didn’t realise that storing the router in a cupboard, out of the way, can in fact affect their internet connection.
According to Zen, internet usage has increased 78% year on year, with Netflix demand up by 136%. With more usage per household, a recent annual Which? survey found that 69% of internet users had experienced an issue with their connection during the past 13 months.
Low speeds and frequent dropouts were the most common problems experienced while a further study by Zen last year revealed that homeworkers wasted on average 17.5 days over the course of a year due to poor internet connection.
Says Stephen Warburton from zen.co.uk:
“The adage ‘a place for everything and everything in its place’ certainly applies to where your WiFi router should live – and that is not next to your microwave! Where possible, it is best to avoid placing the router in the kitchen at all because the electromagnetic waves from a microwave can interfere with the WiFi signal. Baby monitors, stereos, speakers, TVs, halogen lamps can all also affect WiFi if they are too close to your router.
“Place your router as close as you can to the centre of a home for a consistent connection. Radio waves generally spread out and towards the ground, not up, so it’s worth considering mounting it on the wall. This will also help to keep it out of reach of pets and children. Not only is it a danger hazard but there are several wires and buttons that can be broken or damaged. Placing it on the second floor (if you have one) could also help.”
Other tips from Zen for improving broadband speeds, include:
Switch WiFi devices off when not in use
You may not realise it but tablets and smartphones often work in the background – even when they aren’t being used. So, if you’ve got devices that you think are using your bandwidth (by downloading updates in the background, for example) start your digital device declutter by switching off the WiFi option on anything you aren’t using – you could also put it on airplane mode.
Remove any ‘shadow’ devices from your network
Use your router’s admin interface to find out exactly how many devices are connected to your network. Deleting the devices you don’t recognise or don’t want to be connected can help to ease the pressure and speed up connectivity.
It is also possible to prioritise the most important devices to make sure that they always get the best possible connection. So, whether it is your games console, work laptop or smart TV, you can choose which device gets priority when there’s not quite enough bandwidth to go round.
Do this via the router settings page of your broadband provider and edit the wireless settings to add priority to your chosen devices. Of course, it might be a good idea to check with the rest of the household first!
Have a move around
Putting a little more thought into where you keep a router could improve your connectivity no end. Experiment by having a move around of furniture and where you house a router – it could make all the difference to your next Netflix binge!