Fix Wi-Fi blackspots fast and often at no cost (2023 update network guide)
Most of the time, you can fix Wi-Fi blackspots fast and often at no cost. That is not to say you can’t improve your home Wi-Fi network speeds at extra cost.
The golden rule to fix Wi-Fi Blackspots – first, move your router
The secret to fixing Wi-Fi blackspots fast and at no cost is to find the best location for your Wi-Fi router. Ideally, that is within a circular radius (line-of-sight) of 10 metres for 5Ghz (fast up to 2400Mbps) and 20 metres for 2.4Ghz (10-100Mbps standard) Wi-Fi for all your Wi-Fi devices. It is not in the garage or at the front of the property where the tech terminated the NBN cable. It is somewhere near the dead centre of the home.
The no or low-cost cure for a typical 100-300m2 single-level apartment/home
Move the existing router by laying an Ethernet cable from the terminator to the best location. A 30m Cat 5e Ethernet cable costs <$20 and either run it through the ceiling cavity or get an Electrician to lay it, usually for about <$200. Regardless of the router brand and speed, you will have decent Wi-Fi coverage in that circular radius. If you can’t move the router, that Ethernet cable could allow you to set up a router or mesh system where it will do the most good.
The higher cost cure for a larger or multi-level home
Every time Wi-Fi signals pass through floors, doors, windows or walls, the signal strength almost halves. PS – there is no such thing as a Wi-Fi Booster that can retransmit faster Wi-Fi. The truth is that they can only transmit the signal strength they receive – garbage in, garbage out (GIGO).
After you have placed your router in the middle of everything, you can place a Wi-Fi access point up to ten meters from the router, and it will transmit the signal a further 10 metres. The trick to its effectiveness (GIGO) is to join the router and access point via Ethernet cable for full-speed front and backhaul. We will talk about Mesh soon.
Move Wi-Fi hogs to Cabled Ethernet
A Wi-Fi hog is typically a 4K TV, streaming sound, Security Camera base station, a PC/Laptop and printer. If you can connect some of these to the Ethernet ports on the back of a router, you bypass Wi-Fi, and these have internet priority.
The inexpensive cure
If they are not close to the router, consider connecting these to a low-cost switch (about $50) and running an Ethernet cable to the router. You would be surprised how easy it is to disguise Ethernet cable under rugs, down carpet edges, and you can get flat or round cables in various colours for just a little more.
Wi-Fi and router sizing
Despite what so many ill-educated salespeople tell you, routers have very real versus theoretical limits to the number of devices they can support. We recommend
- Up to 10 devices – Dual-band Wi-Fi 6 AX1900-AX3000 (typical cost $100-300)
- 11-20 devices – Tri-band Wi-Fi 6 AX3200 and AX5000 ($300-500)
- 20 to as many as 100 devices – Dual and Tri-band Wi-Fi 6 AX3000 to as high as AX11000 ($500-1000)
So your cheap NBN provider dual-band AC router will run out of steam with 2 x smartphones, 1 x TV, 4 x Wi-Fi Lights, 2 x Smart speakers and a baby cam. Wi-Fi 5 AC works on a half-duplex collision basis – like a one-lane bridge where only one car can use it at once. Wi-Fi 6 AX (the best to buy) is a two-lane bridge – with full-duplex traffic both ways.
Changing the router won’t increase the 10/20m Wi-Fi transmission distance, but it adds more bandwidth and greater signal strength so that each device works faster.
Further reading (Routers)
- Crappy NBN FTTN Modem – here are a few better ones (network guide)
- Telstra Smart Modem 3 AX3000 – not all that smart or fast (update after test)
- Should I buy a 6 or 6E Wi-Fi router? (network guide)
- D-Link DSL-X1852E AX1800 DSL router (DLink network review)
- Netgear RAXE500 AXE11000, Wi-Fi 6E Router (network review)
- TP-Link Archer AX90 AX6600 Tri-band Wi-Fi 6 router and RE505 AX15000 range
- Seamless whole-of-home Wi-Fi now easy with Wi-Fi 6 (network guide)
Mesh-compatible routers, satellites and access points
Despite what so many ill-educated salespeople will tell you, Mesh is not the cure to most Wi-Fi black spots.
Mesh means the main router and its satellites present a blanket coverage with the same Wi-Fi name and password. You likely won’t already have a mesh router and satellites, so you will need to buy a kit if you go this way. The key to mesh is to get the best signal strength (backhaul) between the router and its satellites. Some use Wi-Fi, some use Ethernet Cable (always best), and some use Ethernet over Power lines.
Lower cost Mesh capable routers we trust are D-Link Eagle Pro AI AX3200 M32 Mesh router system. These work like a charm in small to medium homes. You can add extra Eagle Pro satellites and even a 4G Eagle Pro modem.
TP-Link has mid-range Deco devices that cover large areas and a new one that uses Ethernet over Power for mesh backhaul (review soon).
- TP-Link Deco XE75 Wi-Fi 6E AXE5400 Tri-band Mesh router (network review)
- TP-Link Deco X90 AX6600 Mesh router is fast, very fast (network review)
NETGEAR also have the Orbi Wi-Fi 6, and 6E range. These are for larger homes, and we use the RAX200 and EAX80 at Cybershack to test Wi-Fi devices.
- Netgear Orbi 860 Tri-Band Wi-Fi 6 AX6000 mesh network – speed and savings
- Netgear Orbi RBKE963 Quad-band Wi-Fi 6E AX 11000 mesh (network review)
Why at least Wi-Fi 6 AX and tri-band for mesh?
Wi-Fi 6 AX has a considerable speed advantage for AX-compatible devices (up to 2400Mbps full-duplex), and it is entirely backwards compatible with Wi-Fi 5 AC (up to 866Mbps half-duplex) and earlier. There are too many advantages and no downsides (apart from the initial cost).
Using Mesh takes one of the 5GHz bands (Tri-band is 2.4GHz and 2 x 5GHz bands) for a dedicated full-duplex front and backhaul with the router.
Using a dual-band Mesh reduces the overall bandwidth to establish a front/backhaul. Some Mesh (dual-or-tri-band) can also use an Ethernet Cable for full-duplex 1000Mbps front/backhaul.
Cybershack view – it is easy to fix Wi-Fi blackspots fast and often at no cost
Start by moving the router. That is all you may need – it is not rocket science, and any DIY can do it.
And remember a few golden rules
- Ethernet cables are the cure for most performance issues
- If buying a router, look for a mesh-capable Wi-Fi 6 AX dual or tri-band
- If buying a mesh router, insist on tri-band Wi-Fi 6 AX, and you may have to run Ethernet cables to the satellites
We have not mentioned Google Nest, Amazon eero, ASUS and the plethora of generic Chinese mesh routers.
Fix Wi-Fi blackspots, Fix Wi-Fi blackspots