A wireless network lets you get online from your laptop, tablet or smartphone anywhere within your home, without connecting to a mass of cables.
You can use it to send photos from computer to computer, to send documents to a printer wirelessly, or to play games online on a smartphone.
But, on occasion, your home wi-fi signal may seem weak or you may struggle to pick it up certain rooms.
Here are some tips for boosting your home wi-fi.
Step 1: The right router location
Thick walls are the enemy of wi-fi. They simply block the signal. Position your wi-fi router so its signal has as few obstructions as possible. Ideally, it needs to have plenty of clear space around it.
Try putting it on a shelf at around waist height or on a desk.
It’s important that it’s situated away from electrical interference from other wireless devices.
2: Change router channel
As increasing numbers of people use wi-fi, the airwaves are becoming more congested, particularly in urban areas. This can lead to interference.
Changing the wi-fi channel of your router can help.
The BT Home Hub 3, Home Hub 4 and Home Hub 5 include Smart Wireless technology which automatically scans the channels, selecting the one with least interference.
The Home Hub 4 and Home Hub 5 are dual-band routers that scan the 2.5 Ghz and 5Ghz bands.
BT doesn’t recommend you change the channel manually, but you can make the router perform a refresh, so it will re-scan and select the best channel.
BT Home Hub 4 and BT Home Hub 5
- Go to http://bthomehub.home in your web browser to open the Hub Manager.
- Click Settings and enter your password. If this is the first time, your password is the 'Admin password' on your Hub settings card. Select the Admin password option to change it to something you like.
- Click on the Wireless. Look for Smart wireless and click Refresh. Wait a few seconds while the Hub checks for channels.
If you aren’t a BT customer and want to change the channel manually, check out the manufacturer’s website for instructions and advice.
inSSIDer for Home is a useful piece of software which lets you view how many wi-fi networks are on each channel in your immediate area, so you can select the channel with the best coverage.
Step 3: Update your software
Manufacturers often introduce software updates for devices - including routers - to improve security and stability.
BT Home Hub owners receive updates automatically overnight over their broadband line.
If you are not a BT customer, find the router details on the unit or check the details of your broadband package if it came from your provider. The 'support' section of the manufacturer's website should include instructions.
Upgrading manually can be quite technical, so may not be the right solution for everyone.
Step 4: Boost your wi-fi
If you’ve tried the above and your wireless network still doesn’t reach every room, consider a wi-fi range extender, also called a repeater.
The BT Dual-Band Wi-Fi Extender 610 (£29.99) boosts your wi-fi signal so it can be used in otherwise out-of-range places in your home.
Connecting to your router with just one button push, dual-band support means faster downloading and streaming because there are two wi-fi signals your devices can connect to.
If you are a not a BT customer you need to choose a wi-fi extender that supports the same standard as your wireless route. The BT Dual Band Wi-Fi Extender 610 supports B, G and N, which means it will work with the majority of non-BT routers. It is also compatible with all BT’s Home Hubs.
If you are looking for a more portable solution – such as for a laptop - opt for a wi-fi dongle. These plug into a USB port, adding wi-fi connectivity. Prices start from £29.99 at Connected Home.
Step 5: Using home hotspots to expand your wireless and wired network
Another way of extending your home internet connection is to use a powerline adaptor, such as the BT Home Hotspot Plus 600 Kit (£44.99), which can turn any power socket into a wi-fi hotspot.
Powerline technology uses the existing electrical circuit that runs around your home to extend your broadband network, bringing network access to any room with a plug.
This is a particularly good way to connect devices - such as a games console, HD TV or laptop - in rooms away from the router.
Kits are incredibly easy to use, they typically consist of two parts, one which connects to your router and you plug in nearby.
The other you plug into a socket in the room where you want wi-fi, where it creates its own wi-fi hotspot. It also includes two Ethernet ports, if you’d rather connect a device – such as a smart TV – using a cable.
It works with other BT Broadband Extender products and uses AV600 Powerline technology, which means it can be integrated into existing powerline networks, even if you aren't a BT customer.
The BT Home Hotspot Plus 600 Kit now costs £44.99 for BT customers - a fantastic 50% saving off the £89.99 retail price.
6: Router upgrade
A faster form of wi-fi can offer significant improvements, but older hardware such as venerable laptops and PCs will hold it back. So consider buying a new router.
Swap your router for one that supports the newest form of Wi-Fi, 802.11n or wireless ‘N’.
Wireless N routers offer up to 300Mbps connectivity – up to five times faster than older wi-fi versions.
The BT Home Hub 2, Home Hub 3, Home Hub 4 and Home Hub 5 all support N technology.
The BT Home Hotspot Plus 600 Kit and BT Dual-Band Wi-Fi Extender 610 are available here.