(BPT) - You don’t need an expert to tell you: America is hooked on the internet. Just try to think of the last day you didn’t use the web in some way.
But you probably don’t think much about the main way the internet is delivered: through WiFi. It powers your computer at work — as well as the Facebook feed you’re discreetly checking under your desk. At home, it’s the new electricity. Netflix, Hulu, and Pandora rely on it. It powers activities on your smartphone, unless you want to rack up a huge data bill from your carrier. WiFi runs the kids’ Xbox and maybe even your thermostat and security camera — these days, almost every device in the home is thirsty for WiFi.
When you do think about WiFi, it’s usually because it’s not working — and driving you nuts. Before investing in a more expensive internet package or living with buffering videos and router resets, here are three do-it-yourself ways to improve your home WiFi:
Move your router
If you have rooms that don’t have access to the internet — dead zones — first try moving your router to a more central location in the home. Because routers have a limited range, it’s important that your router is in a central area. If you can’t move the router to a different location, try elevating it on a table or shelf to spread the signal more efficiently.
Large metal appliances, like refrigerators, and electronics that emit radio waves, like microwaves, can interfere with your network’s signal. Keeping the router out of places like the kitchen can help bolster the range and speed of your WiFi.
Upgrade to a mesh network
Most households rely on a single router. But with the steep increase in home internet usage, one WiFi router may not be adequate to support all the devices connected to it.
A San Francisco company, eero, was the first to bring a mesh WiFi system into the home. eero — which is about as simple as anything gets in the tech world — works by swapping out your current router, plugging a single eero into your modem, then placing additional eeros throughout the house. The devices work together to create a wireless mesh network that delivers fast, reliable WiFi to every room. Their mesh technology ensures people are getting the same internet speeds they’re paying for throughout the entire home, instead of just near wherever their cable pipe comes in.
eero is quick to set up and makes it easy for people to manage their networks through a smartphone app. The app allows you to monitor your internet network from afar and invite guests to join the network via a text message. Parents can even assign schedules for when devices can access WiFi, making it easy to limit their kids’ internet usage.
Update your modem
An often-overlooked device that may be throttling your WiFi signal is the cable modem, the device that translates the data coming in through your cable pipe into a digital language your router can understand.
Households should update their modems every three to five years. If yours is outdated, it could be impacting the quality of your signal and speed. Many people rent their modem from their internet service provider for $5-10 a month. Purchasing a new, updated modem usually costs $50-100, but you’ll save money on a rental fee while seeing major improvements to your WiFi.
The way we use the internet today has changed and the old ways of WiFi are not keeping pace. Whether it’s moving your router, upgrading to an eero mesh network, or just swapping out your modem, you shouldn’t have to deal with buffering, dead zones, or router resets.
(BPT) - From calls to texting to browsing the Web, today’s smartphones and tablets have the potential to keep us in constant communication while on the go. But for mobile users who suffer through dropped calls, slow downloads or delayed voicemails, that potential isn’t always realized.
In fact, 20 percent of respondents experience dropped calls “very often” (15 times or more per week), while another 15 percent experience dropped calls “often” (10 to 15 times per week), according to a recent consumer survey conducted by weBoost. When poor cell reception occurs on a daily basis, even the most amazing piece of mobile technology can lose a lot of its value to the user.
While those who report these common mobile challenges may be quick to blame their device or carrier, the real culprit may be neither. The surprising truth is anything interrupting the line of sight from a cell tower to a device — such as uneven terrain, dust in the air and tall foliage — can reduce signal strength.
Perhaps the biggest misconception of all is that there’s nothing we can do. On the contrary, it’s much easier than many mobile users realize to improve signal strength. Here are some simple tips for better reception:
Track your tower. Knowing which tower your device is using can go a long way toward improving your signal. A downloadable app called “Open Signal,” available on Google Play and Apple’s App Store, will show you all the cell towers in your area, as well as which tower you’re connected to. By knowing where the tower is, you’ll know which direction to face when using your mobile device, which reduces the chance of any obstructions blocking your signal. If you find you’re not connected to the closest tower, simply reboot your signal by turning your phone off and on again.
Keep your device charged. If you’ve ever picked up your phone and suddenly noticed several delayed texts or voicemails appear at once, try checking your battery. When you’re actively using your phone, it pings the towers more frequently, which uses more power. However, it conserves power when it’s on standby mode — which means if your battery is low, your phone could be receiving updates less frequently. The solution is simple: just charge your battery.
Roll down the windows. Energy-efficient building products, such as insulation and tinted windows, can block a cell signal in a home or office building. Similarly, most vehicles are built with large amounts of metal, often with a metallic tint covering the windows. If you notice you’re struggling for a good signal indoors, or while on the road, the solution could be as easy as rolling down the window. Your cell signal could double in strength.
Compare carriers. If none of the above solutions seem to improve your cell reception, your carrier could be the problem. Not all carriers serve the same locations, and it’s quite possible your carrier just doesn’t provide a strong signal in your area. To know for sure, simply look up coverage maps for each of the major carriers and compare their service areas. Switching to a different carrier could be the best option where you live.
Boost your signal. While there are many effective ways around the problem of poor cell reception, it’s also surprisingly easy to fix it permanently. A weBoost cell phone signal booster installed in a home or car can greatly amplify a weak signal — essentially creating your own personal cell tower. The result is faster download speeds, clearer conversations and better battery life (since your phone will no longer need to transmit over long distances). Just like a cell tower, a weBoost cell signal booster works with every network, and there’s no limit to how many people can use it at once.
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