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How to improve your wireless signal

Summary: Find out how to optimise the strength of your wireless network signal.

If you're having problems with your wireless network, here's a few tips to help you improve the signal. Depending on your setup and circumstances, you might not be able to try everything we mention here. Don't worry if so, these are only recommendations so just do what you can.

  1. Where does your router live?
  2. Interference
  3. What wireless channel are you using?

1. Where does your router live?

Finding the best position for your router can sometimes be tricky. There are two factors to consider:

  • The best place for your broadband signal
  • The best place for your wireless signal

The best place for your broadband signal

It's a good idea to connect your router to the master telephone socket (it's usually the one closest to where the telephone line enters your property). This becomes more important if you have a poor quality or long line. While you don't have to use the master socket, it's where you'll get the best broadband performance.

The best place for your wireless signal

For a strong wireless network with a clear signal, you'd ideally place your wireless router:

  • Out in the open and away from the floor
  • Close to where you'll be using your computer(s) (preferably in the centre of your property)
  • Away from walls, metal objects and other electrical appliances (see Interference for more on this)

It's rare to be able to meet all of the above criteria, so you'll need to find the best compromise for your setup.

Remember that you don't have to use the master socket, so if your broadband works well in the other sockets in your house then feel free to use them instead.


2. Interference

Your router broadcasts using high frequency (2.4Ghz) radio signals. Like all radio signals it's possible for them to pick up interference.

Microwave ovens, security cameras, Bluetooth devices, cordless phones and baby monitors are common causes of interference so if you can't place your router away from these, be aware that you may have temporary problems when using them.

If you notice problems while using a cordless phone, a phone that broadcasts on a higher frequency, (such as 5.8 GHz, ask a retailer about this) should stop this from happening.


3. Your Wireless Channel

Interference can also be caused by other wireless networks. In the UK there are 13 'channels' (with each representing a slightly different frequency) available for use. Most modern routers will automatically detect the least busy channel and use that.

If you're having problems, it's worth checking that your router has chosen a clear channel to broadcast on.

Tools are available which show you how many routers are broadcasting in your area and the channel they use. Further information regarding this can be found on our community forums. Please note these are third party applications which we do not offer support for.

If you can see that your router is broadcasting on a busy channel, then it might be worth changing to a less common one. Generally you'll find the best performance on channels 1, 6, and 11.

If you're using a Plusnet router, see our Router guides for help changing the wireless channel and other advanced settings.


This page last updated 2nd August 2012

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