10 Ways to Improve Wi-Fi Signal & Speed in an HDB Flat (Updated for 2018)

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Have you ever get home from school or work, ready to relax, get in bed and start to use your laptop or phone and find out your home WiFi isn’t working?

So you disconnect from your WiFi and reconnect, and use your precious 4G data to Google why your home WiFi just sucks even though you (or your parents) just paid for that pretty pricey upgrade or when it was working just fine yesterday?

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Then when you finally get that connection signal, each video or webpage takes a billion years to load or the quality just throws you back to 1998 YouTube videos?

Familiar?

Many Singaporeans have been having connectivity troubles with their WiFi where the signal is so weak in certain areas of their homes.

Sometimes it is so weak that if you are like me and live in Woodlands, you can even pick up WiFi signals from Johor.

Yes that’s right, in certain rooms, my own home’s WiFi cannot be picked up but I can somehow connect to the WiFi in JOHOR BAHRU??!

Well, before you decide to purchase new Wifi upgrades offered by Singtel and Starhub with atas sounding names like 1Gbps Fibre Home Bundle and Google Wifi hoping to improve the speed and coverage of the WiFi you already have, here are ten reasons why your WiFi probably sucks.

Note: you might actually not even need to spend more money on your monthly subscription if you correct these things and some things you can do about it!

1. Move Your Router

This is one of the most common things that many people don’t think of.

Yes, your router may not be the most glam of home décor so it is very tempting to hide it away in some far corner of your house so you don’t have to look at it.

But ideally, to get a stronger and more even WiFi signal all over your house, the router has to be in a central location within your house itself.

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If there is no central location in your house that you can place your router at, shift it closer to the rooms where people use their devices the most frequently.

Your router should also ideally be placed where big walls, furniture and even mirrors are not blocking it.

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2. Move The Things Around Your Router 

Again, this is one of the more obvious solutions to your signal problems.

Little things are standing in the way of you and an awesome WiFi signal. Quite literally.

Small items placed near the router with their own frequencies like baby monitors, metallic items, cordless phones, radios and microwaves are all innocent household items that are interfering with your WiFi signal.

Move them!

3. You Are Still Using A Single Band Router

This reason is one that is more technical. If you live in any type of heavily populated residential area and you’re using a 2.4GHz router (the most common option), your neighbour’s WiFi signal will mess with yours because the 2.4GHz band is usually very crowded.

Think of the 2.4GHz as an expressway that everybody uses to get off work. Drive during peak hours and you’ll be moving 5 inches. Per minute. Or sometimes, not even moving.

Just like your Wifi.

To get out of this human congestion (in the world of signal frequency), simply purchase a dual-band router that has both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz.

Because that 5GHz band is the emptier highway you want to be on so you can speed your way to fast WiFi and a stronger signal!

4. You Have Not Updated Your Router’s Firmware

Remember when you first got your router installed? You had to set it up by accessing a webpage, where you probably very excitedly created your own custom WiFi name and password, looking forward to spending your hours accessing everything on the internet thanks to that blessed WiFi.

Well, how many of us actually have bothered to visit that website ever again? Probably never, unless you had to do a factory reset on your router.

However, you do have to check in on that website every so often to make sure the firmware is up-to-date.

Usually, routers do have bugs that need fixes and updating the router’s firmware can do wonders to improve the WiFi signal in your house.

And this process is only getting easier. New routers now have apps you can download onto your phone that will alert you whenever an update is ready to be installed!

5. You Have Not Invested in a WiFi Extender

Just like the name sounds, a WiFi extender essentially extends the WiFi signal to those hard-to-reach places in your home.

You don’t need any special skills to set it up, besides reading the instructions that come with it.

Usually, you can just plug it into your wall socket and let the device work its magic. Just remember that even though the extender will give you good coverage, if it is far away from the router itself, the WiFi signal you get won’t be strong enough to let you watch HD videos.

6. You Do Not Have a Powerline Network

Another way to go about extending your WiFi will be to invest in powerline devices that pretty much just use the electrical wiring you already have in your home to transfer the WiFi signal over to those areas with weak or no WiFi.

Known as powerline networking, this option is easy to set up and configure (read the instructions!) and will give you a stronger signal than just getting WiFi extenders.

Yes, you can watch HD videos in your room.

7. You Have Not Changed The Channel

Now, unfortunately, this method only works with Windows-based PCs. When you use your WiFi, it is usually locked into a particular channel (usually the router’s default channel).

But chances are, your neighbours are all going to be on that same channel and what do we have again? That’s right! Another congested highway.

Image: windowscentral.com

The solution to this is quite simple. On your PC (if you are using Windows 7), type in the command prompt netsh wlan show all and you can browse through all the channels being used in your area.

Pick a channel that is the least congested, go to your wireless setting, change it and voila! Strong WiFi again!

8. Your Router Antennas Are Not Directional 

Yes, you heard right. The extended antennas on your router make a huge difference. Find out if they are omnidirectional (spoiler alert! – most router antennas are) or directional.

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Do your research on the type of antennas you have and the type you can change to so you don’t have to go back to the store a million times after figuring out at home that a certain brand’s antenna doesn’t match yours!

But yes, invest in the directional extended antennas so you can direct the WiFi signal into whichever areas of your house that have a weak signal.

Please do buy external antennas especially if you only have internal ones and your WiFi is weak. The external antennas are way better for giving strong Wifi signals.

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9. You Do Not Have a Mesh-Based Wireless System 

This is probably the most atas way of getting yourself the best WiFi signal possible.

Image: Singtel

Different from extenders and powerline networking, this system consists of a primary router connecting to the modem and satellite nodes to be placed around the house for that ultimate WiFi luxury.

This system doesn’t even use any of the bands to communicate with the router, they use mesh technology instead.

These systems come with apps that have pretty detailed instructions to walk you through the whole process to get you set up.

The only downside, they’re expensive.

10. You Are Not Using Aluminium Foil 

Now, this is one of the weirdest ways to get a good WiFi signal without breaking the bank on fancy systems or extenders.

The humble aluminium foil can be used to disperse the WiFi signal into your needed direction.

Image: thehappylearning.com

Simply fold up a rectangular piece of the foil, fold it to have a slight curve and place it behind the router’s antenna, directing it into the area where the WiFi signal is weak. Pretty weird hack, but half the internet swears by it.

Plus, it saves you a whole lot of cash from upgrading your WiFi package so what’s not to love about this little secret!

And there you have it, 10 reasons why your home WiFi still sucks in 2018. And what you can do about it.

Hopefully, this article saves some of you money from monthly payments of unnecessary package upgrades and make your life easier.

I know what it’s like to hunt for WiFi signal in the house.

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Rachael Divya

Rachael Divya

Life is one big adventure, so you can find her on the next flight out. (But when flights are too expensive, you can find her in bed catching up on the twenty TV shows she’s decided to watch.) Food time is her favourite time of every day, and way too many things interest her so now she’s just a jumbled-up ball of curiosity navigating this messy, happy little world she has.
Rachael Divya