At the risk of sounding like a ‘Forex Trader’ scam artist at the beginning of every YouTube video, I’m about to tell you the secret Internet Service Providers don’t want you to know! Every household has their own internet these days but nobody tells you how to use all the speed you’re paying for, this article sets you on the path to do that.
If you’ve seen the latest advert from BT, featuring ‘Pixelated Paula’, you’ll be led to believe that she had great internet one week and slow internet the next.
The internet jibes at Paula for being on Zoom calls and her video becomes pixelated because of slow internet speeds and BT claims this is because Paula is with the wrong internet provider.
If you’re reading this article then it’s likely you’ve encountered slow internet yourself, after all if you watch video streaming sites like Netflix or Amazon Prime Video for example, you’ve probably had your fair share of slow speed hiccups, it happens to us all.
It’s less likely to be a problem with your Internet provider though and more to do with the settings on your router and it’s continued use of the 2.4Ghz WiFi signal. Your router is extremely likely to have both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz frequencies, this is also the case for your neighbours houses by the way, a key point I’m about to get to.
2.4Ghz is the default of many routers and even those which have been set to use either/or, they most often default to 2.4Ghz and the problem with this is that your neighbours are all using 2.4Ghz too. Routers transmit a signal we can’t hear, but when they transmit they’re effectively constantly screaming a frequency and when there are many other routers doing the same thing in your neighbourhood, your own routers ‘scream’ is difficult for your devices to ‘hear’.
Lucky then, that 5Ghz exists! 5Ghz is like the router screaming in a different frequency to all those around it and as your devices listen out for its frequency, its much easier for them to hear it, a difference of night and day pretty much!
In the image below (ignoring the BT ad on the left), you’ll see the top speed recorded using the 2.4Ghz frequency from my router, on my iPhone, 26.6mbps.
Below that is the speed recorded using the 5Ghz frequency, 102mbps.
What’s stopping you from doing this yourself?
- Fear of messing up the settings on the router
- Having some devices which are not compatible with 5Ghz
Both valid points. If you can find a guide on YouTube or on an advice forum which will guide you through the steps to create two named frequencies, there’s very little room for error. Your router likely has a Network Name (or SSID) that looks like VM26857 if on Virgin Media, BTHubb6-H8Q7 on BT and so on and you can keep that name for one frequency (2.4Ghz for example) and create another for the 5Ghz frequency to allow you to differentiate the two.
The above step is important before moving on to compatible devices. Did you know that the original Playstation 4 was not 5Ghz compatible? So although it might make sense for some people to switch the 2.4Ghz frequency off altogether, for others it would be a bad idea. Your iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, Smart TV, Nest, Alexa, Ring and Google Home for example, they’ll be 5Ghz compatible for the most part, with the exception of older devices. Your Xbox 360, PS3, PS4 and so on, will need to continue to be connected to 2.4Ghz and will not connect to the internet using a 5Ghz frequency.
So what will this mean for you? It’ll mean that those older devices will likely use a slower WiFi signal to everyone else. Your options for old laptops or desktops you can buy a 5Ghz USB Adapter, check compatibility before purchasing, buy newer devices or perhaps the simplest option for gaming consoles and desktops, is to connect to the router using an Ethernet Cable. Although using an Ethernet Cable means that you will be tethered to one specific part of the house, you will be using the most quick and clear signal available from the router and multiple devices can be connected in this way.
Luckily I personally had the knowhow to be able to give the two frequencies each their own network name, so on any devices which are not compatible with 5Ghz, I can still connect them to the internet and for the ones that are, my Wifi speed is up by over two thirds!
I track my speeds using Speedtest.net.
Please comment below if you’ve tried this yourself and if you encountered any difficulties in speeding up your own WiFi signals.