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WiFi challenges in apartments, townhouses, trailer parks, and other high-density residences

As internet service speeds increase, new WiFi devices are introduced, and the average user is using more internet devices in the home, the problems arising from improper WiFi setup are becoming epidemic. This issue is not isolated to AlignTec customers, but applies to anyone using internet service with a WiFi router. Some companies have introduced new services in an attempt to assist customers with these issues, and AlignTec has done the same with its WiFi Care service. But if a customer makes the decision to use their own WiFi router, the service provider has no control over any part of the customer’s home network, nor any responsibility for ensuring it’s proper setup. The end result is customers calling their service provider about service issues or speed problems not realizing that the problem they’re having is in their home, not with the internet service. Not to say the service isn’t the issue, but expecting your provider to be responsible for poorly running home networks doesn’t help the situation.

If you’ve read any of the other articles or papers that we’ve published, you are aware of the in-home WiFi conflicts that can happen just from having too many WiFi devices in the home. Now if you throw on top of that an apartment situation, or similar, and not only are you dealing with your own WiFi, but all of the WiFi signals spilling into your space from other units. This is what we call ‘WiFi soup’. These situation are the worst because, having problems, users will buy higher power routers that do nothing more than add to the problem. Bottom line, high-density housing is the worst possible scenario for WiFi and the main cause of tech support calls that we get from these neighborhoods.

If you live in such an area, and are having problems with streaming or just about any other usage of your service, the problem is not necessarily with the service itself. Most providers have a procedure for properly testing a service, which will usually involve separating the home network from the service to get an accurate idea of how the service is performing. At that point it becomes very simple: if the service tests poorly when being tested directly, then it’s a service issue for your provider to fix. If the service tests good when isolated but not so good when the home is connected, then the problem is in the home. Information on dealing with home WiFi issues is readily available from a Google search, and most good computer technicians know how to deal with these issues as well.

Here are some tips for getting the best internet usage from your most important devices:

1. Wire your devices directly to the router. Printers, Blu-ray players, satellite receivers, TVs….anything that can be connected by an Ethernet cable, should be connected in this way for best performance. A lot of people think this is an old fashioned way to connect devices, but until WiFi becomes ‘smart’ enough to take care of itself, it’s the best and most trouble-free way. Most of our staff here does the same thing in their own homes. We know the problem all too well.

2. If you are providing your own WiFi router, download a WiFi scanner utility from the internet and install on your computer. Scan the frequencies around you and choose one for your router that won’t be in conflict. Also, since high density housing units are generally not large, reduce the power of your WiFi signal so as not to cause increased conflict to other units. Encourage your neighbors to do the same. It may seem counter-intuitive to do this, but if everyone cut down on the amount of WiFi radiation being broadcast, the overall interference situation will go down and everyone will be much happier.

3. Re-evaluate your frequency usage periodically, and definitely when issues seem to arise again. We hear ‘but nothing has changed’ all the time, but most WiFi devices are set for automatic frequency selection by default, which enables them to move their frequencies. It’s only a matter of time before a conflict is created if these devices are not manually set for a specific frequency. Believe us, if a sudden problem arises, something has changed and it may not be your service provider’s issue.

4. If this seems like way too much for you to handle yourself, and you’re not interested in AlignTec’s WiFi Care or are on another provider’s service…then a good computer tech may be for you. There are many of them in town, some better than others, and a tech should be able to assist you. If you want a recommendation on a good tech, we’re always happy to give you one.

5. Saving the best for last, there’s always our WiFi care service. For $24.95 setup and $7.95 a month, we can assist with a lot of these issues and make your entire experience more trouble free. If we find a problem device in your home, like a wireless printer for instance, we won’t be able to work on the printer for you but at least we can identify the problem and steer you in the right direction to get it solved.

Ultimately, we want you to have the best internet experience possible no matter who your service provider is. We hope this information helps, and we’re always here to answer questions.

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