By Marc Saltzman
QUICK QUESTION: What’s the one technology
that lets all of your wireless devices access the
Internet in your home? If you answered “Wi-Fi,”
you are correct.
While your high-speed router is responsible for
letting your devices—such as your smartphone, tablet, e-book, laptop, printer,
video game console and Smart TV, to
name just a few—get online, your
Wi-Fi network also facilitates communication between many of these
devices, such as accessing your
smart thermostat from your tablet
or playing music from your phone to
your multi-room speaker system.
To ensure optimal performance,
consider the following advice.
• Put your router in the optimal spot in your
home. For example, never keep it in the basement,
because it will be tough for devices elsewhere in the
home to communicate with it. Instead, put the
router on the main or top floor and close to the centre of the house. Older homes with concrete walls
might have more dead zones than houses with drywall, so you might need to experiment a bit.
• If you live in a larger home, you might consider an inexpensive wireless extender (
sometimes referred to as a “repeater”) and place it
in the area of your home where Wi-Fi reception is poor. This small device, which just
plugs into an electrical outlet, communicates
with your router to extend its range. If this
still doesn’t do the trick, check with your
Internet service provider to see if there’s a
faster service you can go with—budget per-mitting, of course.
• If it’s been a few years since you’ve
upgraded your router, consider picking up a
new one with 802.11ac speeds instead of the older
802.11n protocol. It’s faster, covers a wider area
and supports more simultaneous users (now
many dozens of devices). While they’re more
expensive, you can also look at routers with powerful (“high gain”) antennas and with “
dual-band” or “tri-band” support, as well.
• If you can forgive the geek speak, newer
routers also offer both a 2. 4 GHz connection and
Costco offers a variety of
routers and Wi-Fi extenders
in the warehouses and
online at Costco.ca.
5 GHz connection. This is ideal, as it could minimize interference among devices also operating on
the 2. 4 GHz frequency in the home, such as microwaves, baby monitors and cordless phones. While
the 2. 4 GHz frequency is able to reach farther than
the 5 GHz frequency, devices connected to
the 5 GHz frequency operate at faster
speeds. When joining your devices to
your router (required once), you can
choose which frequency you prefer.
• While optional, it’s strongly
recommended that you have a password on your wireless network to
ensure your neighbours aren’t stealing your Wi-Fi. Not only can this
slow down your Internet performance,
but you want to minimize the chances of
someone hacking into your computer. Plus you
can be liable—until proven otherwise—if nearby
Web surfers download illegal content on your
account, such as pirated movies or child pornography. On a related note, many routers let you set up a
guest network, so when your friends (or your kids’
friends) come over, give out only the guest network
name and password.
• Last, when using free public Wi-Fi hot spots
at your favourite coffee shop, hotel or airport,
beware of “rogue” networks that appear to be legitimate, but in fact are fake. Nearby criminals can create phony networks that often contain the name of
the establishment, but actually will direct your
information to their own computer. When using
public Wi-Fi, refrain from entering sensitive data—
like online banking info or typing in a credit card
number on a store’s website—to prevent cyber-snoops from accessing your info. Wait until you’re
on a secured, private Wi-Fi network, like the one at
home, or turn your phone into a hot spot as cellular
connectivity is safer than open Wi-Fi hot spots. C
More in archives
On Costco.ca, enter “Connection”;
at Online Edition, search
Home improvement Questions about electronics or computers you purchased at Costco? Email them to: email@example.com.
Or mail to:
Q&A with Marc Saltzman
The Costco Connection
415 West Hunt Club Road
Ottawa, ON K2E 1C5
or fax to: 425-313-6718.
“Marc Saltzman Q&A”
in the subject line. Marc
will answer selected ques-
tions in this column. We
regret that unpublished
questions cannot be
wall, so you m
band” or “tri
a leading high-tech
to more than three
on radio and TV, and is
the author of 15 books.
He’s on Twitter at
ight need to experiment a bit.
rvice you can go with—budget per-
Getting the most out of
Wi-Fi in your home