Posted on: March 15th, 2016 by Nicole Iovine

Why Is My WiFi Signal WeakDon’t you just hate it when your WiFi signal icon reads only 1 or 2 bars? It could be even more troublesome if the connection doesn’t show at all, leaving you to walk around the building looking for a stronger signal.

WiFi connectivity problems always seems to happen when users need to rapidly connect to the corporate WiFi in order to pull up a presentation, an important document, or a website during a collaboration session.

In these scenarios, having a weak WiFi presence not only impacts corporate productivity, it also harms the image of the IT department, which has seemingly failed in providing a reliable WiFi service.

Complexities Associated with Weak WiFi Connections

At first glance, configuring a WiFi router in a strategically placed area in your office should be a fairly trivial process. After all, you simply plug in the ethernet cable, provide power to the device, and provide end users with the security key to access the network.

When this seemingly out-of-the-box setup doesn’t work properly, IT departments must evaluate each unique variable found in the specific environment and determine the impact of these factors.

What factors should IT departments be cognizant of? Consult this list potential WiFi problem causers below:

  • Competing WiFi networks operating on the same radio channel
  • Out of date firmware on your WiFi router
  • WiFi access points set up near materials that absorb RF signals
  • WiFi router is near an unmodulated frequency; think of microwaves, etc.
  • Investigate issues with your PC’s WiFi adapter

These 5 factors constitute the majority of the WiFi problems that are encountered by small to medium sized businesses. Let’s dig a little deeper into each one of these factors.

Competing WiFi Networks

If your IT staff is troubleshooting a weak WiFi access point in your office, the first thing they’ll want to do is to find a utility that allows them to examine all of the channels that other WiFi hotspots are operating upon within your building.

If you work in a building that has multiple floors, competing WiFi networks can become a problem. The idea is to have your WiFi network broadcast on a channel that is unused by other access points. If a Cisco WiFi device were on channel 1, and a NetGear access point were broadcasting on channel 4, you could tweak your access point to broadcast on radio channel 11 to ensure that no other WiFi networks compete for your signal space. This gives your end users the best chance of establishing a consistent connection with your WiFi router.

Out of Date Firmware

One of the most frustrating things you’ll find is that when you’ve exhausted all other options, simply updating the firmware on your WiFi router can often remediate known broadcasting issues with your device.

If changing the channel of your WiFi access point doesn’t seem to work, try this method in order to ensure your device is operating with the best practices in place.

Materials that Absorb RF Signals

It’s not surprising to have materials, like brick, absorb RF signals. If you have a WiFi router on one side of a brick wall, a laptop on the other side may experience a weak or non-existent signal.

RF signal blocking materials include:

  • Copper
  • Water
  • Aluminum
  • Metal Screens
  • Metal Walls
  • Metal Foam
  • Thick structures

Each of these will either absorb or block the transmission of RF signals, making it difficult for your fleet of WiFi routers to connect with laptops.

Common appliances such as microwave ovens have also been known to interfere with WiFi transmissions, making it difficult for WiFi networks to operate in commercial kitchen areas where microwaves are heavily being used.

Your PC’s WiFi Adapter

You’ve tweaked the broadcast channel, you’ve updated the firmware, you’ve ensured that your PC has a clear path to the WiFi access point, yet, you’re still having problems with connectivity.

From a hardware standpoint, you may want to evaluate using an additional WiFi access point in a bridged configuration, which will likely provide better coverage for WiFi clients in your office.

When all of these tips aren’t helping your specific situation, you may want to put two laptops side by side to ensure that each laptop is performing the same. If one notebook operates on the WiFi network without errors while the other has issues connecting, you may want to further investigate the hardware being used to establish the WiFi connection.

Other Problems & Solutions for Weak WiFi

WiFi adapters with external antennas can sometimes become unscrewed, thus causing connectivity problems. In other instances, a simple driver update can solve a connectivity issue that is isolated from the access point.

If you’ve tried all of the options we’ve listed above and you’re still having signal issues, give us a call at (833) 482-6435 or contact us online in order to get a professional opinion on the obstacles your business may face in deploying WiFi network connectivity to your end users.

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