Currently, except for a desktop PC or Smart TV, it is normal to have most of our devices connected by Wi-Fi. What we seek to obtain with our wireless networks is good speed and that everything goes smoothly. In that sense, where speed is most used is when we have to download large files or view streaming content. So, for example, when we want to watch a 4K video we will need a good connection speed and also that it remains stable. Therefore, you have to look at the router, the Wi-Fi clients and if we need additional equipment to extend the coverage. In this tutorial we are going to deal with the issue of why the maximum speed over Wi-Fi does not reach and offer a series of solutions.
The first thing we are going to see is what is the cause that prevents us from obtaining the maximum speed through Wi-Fi to be able to perform all our tasks. Then we will see how certain router configurations, a new router, Wi-Fi cards and other additional network equipment can improve the situation and achieve more wireless speed.
Causes that prevent you from having the maximum speed over Wi-Fi
The causes that we cannot fully enjoy our wireless connection can be several. They are usually related to one of these factors:
- Our router has very bad hardware that prevents us from providing more speed.
- Our router has a firmware that is not well optimized, so it is not capable of squeezing its hardware and that we achieve more wireless speed.
- The Wi-Fi receiver, or what is the same, the wireless card of the receiving device.
- Number of WiFi devices connected to the same router or access point, the more connected devices, the less speed we will achieve because the more everything will be collapsed.
- Additional network equipment, such as low-end WiFi repeaters or WiFi access points.
By fulfilling one of the above aspects, we are going to have serious wireless speed problems and it will be reflected in the user experience. In this sense, the problem may be due to one or more of the reasons mentioned above.
The router as the cause of the problem
Our first starting point should be to know the technical specifications of the router . In this regard, it is not the same that the router complies with the 802.11n, 802.11.ac or 802.11ax standard. In the case that our router supports the 802.11n or WiFi 4 standard, that means that we could obtain an approximate maximum speed of about 80 Mbps in the 2.4GHz band. This would be the case if we had an ADSL router or one of the first fiber optic routers.
Then we would have the 802.11.ac or WiFi 5 standard, a standard clearly faster than WiFi 4, in addition, it uses the 5GHz band that is much less saturated than the 2.4GHz band. Here the speed was substantially improved and obtaining a speed between 300 Mbps and 600 Mbps is a real possibility, even higher if the router is of quality and the WiFi clients are located in a relatively close position to the router.
Currently, we already have Wi-Fi 6 routers with the 802.11.ax standard, where speeds close to 1 Gbps or higher are already possible. However, the one that promises great innovation and change will be the Wi-Fi 6E, which will add the 6 GHz band and with which even higher speeds will be obtained.
Once we know the maximum Wi-Fi speed that our router supports, if it does not offer it we have to start looking for the causes. Among the most probable we have:
- Bad location of the router , if we do not place it in a central place we may not have enough coverage.
- Placing the router in an inappropriate place . In this regard, it must be placed at medium height, not locked or put in a drawer, and away from devices that emit interference such as cordless telephones.
- Improper router configuration , it is advisable to choose the appropriate channel for your Wi-Fi network. Generally, what usually gives the best result is to leave it in automatic, although it could be tried manually if we see that it does not go well.
- We are not connected to the proper Wi-Fi band . For example, if we are relatively close to the router and we want speed, we will connect to the 5GHz Wi-Fi network. However, if we are a bit far away and we want to gain stability, even if we lose a lot of speed, we will opt for the 2.4 GHz band.
We must also take into account the hardware of the router , is it the operator’s router or is it a router bought by us from a good brand? Generally, the routers of the operators have limited hardware and a firmware that does not meet minimum standards, so we will have very low speed, poor coverage in our home and even WiFi connection cuts.
WiFi cards for maximum speed over Wi-Fi
Another very common cause of low wireless speed when connecting to a router via WiFi is the WiFi wireless network card itself. In this case, it is possible that our network card is not up to par so that we can enjoy the maximum speed over Wi-Fi. In that case, the problem would be centered on the standard that our wireless adapters support, on the model of the WiFi card and also on the drivers that we have installed on our computer.
If it is a laptop or desktop computer, in both cases we could solve the problem by changing the WiFi network card if it is already very old and uses standards that are not capable of providing higher speed. The solution would be to replace that Wi-Fi card with a new USB, PCI Express or Mini PCI Express. Here the question is to find a wireless card that supports the same Wi-Fi standard as the router or higher, to be prepared for the future. A highly recommended WiFi card is the Intel AX200, currently we have it available in laptops and also in many models of PCIe WiFi network cards.
As for smartphones, tablets, Android TV devices and others that have the Wi-Fi card soldered, it will make it impossible for us to do anything in these cases, except buy a new smartphone or tablet.
Devices connected simultaneously
If we have multiple devices simultaneously connected to the WiFi wireless network, the wireless network could be somewhat collapsed and for this reason we will not get more WiFi speed in our device. With each client that we connect, even if they are not transferring data, the wireless network will slow down. In addition, we must bear in mind that “slow” devices, that is, WiFi cards with an antenna or wireless clients that are very far from the WiFi router or access point, harm faster clients (those with a WiFi card with two or more antennas or that are close to the router).
A very important option that you must enable, as long as the router supports it, is the ” Airtime Fairness ” option, in this way, each wireless client will be given a “portion” of time to be able to transmit at the maximum possible speed, making slow customers not hurt faster ones.
Thanks to the fact that we currently have routers and simultaneous dual-band and even simultaneous triple-band WiFi access points, wireless clients can be repeated between the different frequency bands so as not to have a single band collapsed. In addition, some routers have the “Smart Connect” functionality or also known as Band-steering, with the aim that the router intelligently places the different clients in the different available frequency bands.
Additional network equipment
It is possible that the culprit for a poor speed through the WiFi network is related to the additional devices that we have purchased. For example, we must bear in mind that normal WiFi repeaters are capable of expanding the wireless signal, but the real speed that we will obtain will be around 50% for each jump we make from the wireless client to the main router. This is completely normal, and for this reason, there are nowadays simultaneous dual-band WiFi repeaters and even simultaneous triple-band WiFi repeaters, with the aim of achieving the maximum possible speed in the wireless connection.
It may also be that in certain places we are satisfied with our connection speed and in others we are not. This can be due to two causes:
- The router cannot provide the necessary coverage . Then we would need to add the necessary access points or a Wi-Fi Mesh system.
- The network equipment is not adequate to offer the maximum speed over Wi-Fi . If it has a Wi-Fi standard lower than that of the router and we want to make the most of the speed, it will be necessary to replace it.
In short, if we use WiFi repeaters we must make sure that they are double or triple band, in addition, it is advisable to buy a WiFi Mesh system with a dedicated frequency band so as not to have a bottleneck in the interconnection network, in this way, we can achieve the better wireless speeds.
Check the speed of the WiFi to know if it needs to be improved
One of the things we must know is the Internet speed that we have contracted . As much as we have a router and a state-of-the-art laptop, we will not be able to squeeze them to the fullest if we do not have the appropriate speed contracted. For example, if we have a 100 Mb fiber optic connection, even if we use the aforementioned devices, we will not be able to obtain the maximum speed over Wi-Fi. That does not mean that a 100 Mb connection for one or two people can be enough. Also a 300 Mb connection for three or four people could be enough in most cases, and thus you make sure that you do not fall short.
Another cause of problems can be network saturation . This occurs especially when using P2P programs, when downloading large files and when viewing high-quality multimedia content. At those times, those who suffer from it will experience an Internet connection much slower than usual. The problem will be greater or lesser depending on the number of connected users, the contracted speed and the tasks they are doing. For this reason, depending on the situation at certain times that more family members are connected, it can be seen that the Internet is much fairer.
The easiest way to do it in Windows would be to run a speed test using our Internet browser. Then we will get results like these:
Here we see both the maximum speed for Wi-Fi download, upload and ping. Also in an Android browser you could do the same:
However, if we want to check the maximum speed over WiFi without depending on an Internet connection, you must install a client-server program such as Jperf based on Java and iperf2 on your computers, or directly download iperf3 and configure the server on the wired network of the LAN, and the client in the WiFi network, to perform a speed test at the local area network level, and not depend on our Internet connection speed. These tests are recommended performed with iperf3 if our WiFi connection is faster than the Internet connection.