Understanding Wi-Fi range

 

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Understanding Wi-Fi range

An older Asian couple laughing about something on the internet on a smartphone.

What's coming up

In this activity, you'll learn how your device needs to be in range of a Wi-Fi network to connect to the internet.

We'll also explain some of the other factors that can affect your Wi-Fi reception, and how to fix common reception problems.

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Wi-Fi throughout the home

Wi-Fi is transmitted around your home by a special box called a router. Most newer routers can create a Wi-Fi network strong enough to be used anywhere inside the average home.

Your device should also be able to connect just outside the home, such as on the front porch, the driveway or back garden.

An illustration of a router transmitting a Wi-Fi signal throughout a home and a little beyond the house into the garden.
A padlock illustration.

eSafety Tip

Here are some tips on where to place your router in your home.

  • Keep it cool. Avoid putting it on a radiator or in direct sunshine.
  • Place it as centrally in the house as possible. This will give the whole house the best signal.
  • Don't cover the little vents on top of it – let it breathe.
An illustration of a router transmitting a Wi-Fi signal. As a laptop moves further away from the router, the Wi-Fi signal becomes weaker.

The range of your Wi-Fi

A Wi-Fi router is like a very small radio transmitter. The further your device gets from the router, the weaker the Wi-Fi becomes.

You can look at the Wi-Fi symbol on your device to get a rough idea of how strong the Wi-Fi is.

Try moving your device closer to and further away from the router to see the signal strength change. If your router is brand new, you might need to put your device all the way outside to see a difference in Wi-Fi signal strength.

How Wi-Fi gets blocked

Some parts of your house can interfere with Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi can travel through normal walls, but double-brick, internal walls can block it. Ceramic surfaces, large mirrors and even aquariums might affect Wi-Fi reception too.

If you have some of these things, you might find certain areas in your house, such as a bathroom, have very weak Wi-Fi.

An illustration of a router transmitting a Wi-Fi signal through a house. One room of the house has thick walls and so we can see that the Wi-Fi signal is not being transmitted into that particular room.
An illustration of a tablet outside the house, and therefore further away from the router (or modem), which is receiving a very weak Wi-Fi signal. There is also a tablet that is located inside the house and closer to the router (or modem) and therefore is receiving a much stronger Wi-Fi signal and will have better and faster access to the internet.

Getting back on Wi-Fi

If your device loses its connection to Wi-Fi, getting it reconnected is simple. Just take the device closer to the router and it will reconnect automatically.

Congratulations!

You've reached the end of the Understanding Wi-Fi range activity. You've just learned that Wi-Fi has a limited range, but that the latest routers can provide a home with very strong Wi-Fi.

You also learned that some materials in your house, such as double-brick walls, mirrors and ceramics, can block a Wi-Fi signal, and that fixing poor Wi-Fi reception can be as easy as moving a bit closer to the router.

Up next, we'll explain How is Wi-Fi different from 4G and 5G?

A woman working on her laptop