Buying a new router or access point can be a daunting task. Overall Wi-Fi speed is often advertised as the main deciding factor, but there are other important considerations that affect the effectiveness of the device. For example, how many bands the router/AP uses; bandwidth control; MU-MIMO (Multi-User, Multiple Input, Multiple Output) and what this means for you as a user; the number of antennas; whether it supports the latest WPA3 WiFi security protocol; processor type/speed; and so on.

While it is true that a 'faster' router provides a better experience overall, a lot depends on your location and circumstances. Sure, if you live on the moon you won't get a good signal anyway, but here on earth even remote locations can have a decent connection.

There are many myths surrounding WiFi. We've listed some of them below, but if you need the best advice, it's always best to call one of our experts.

Myth - Wi-Fi is unreliable and even the best connections can fail unexpectedly

For older routers and access points, reliability is an issue. However, over the past few years there has been a huge leap in reliability, speed and smart technologies such as the MU-MIMO and QAM (quadrature amplitude modulation) mentioned earlier. These days, WiFi is seen as a must-have item, not a luxury. Even if you live in a house with thick walls, reflective surfaces, multiple floors and other obstacles, there are still a few things you can do to improve WiFi coverage.

True - the further away from the router, the worse the WiFi will be

Basically, if you double the distance between the router and the client device (mobile phone, laptop, etc.), the throughput is reduced by a third of its original strength. This is further affected by objects that block the signal, such as walls. The key to excellent connectivity is to place the router in an optimal location so that it covers all or most of the house. Adding access points or setting up a mesh router to spread the signal further is also an excellent option.

Myth - If someone else in the house is downloading, your WiFi will slow down for indexing

Older technology was unable to cope with downloading, playing or streaming from multiple devices at the same time. Modern routers and access points have technology that helps alleviate this problem, making the slowdown much less noticeable.

Available bandwidth can only be divided a limited number of times before they suffer the effects of each slice being taken away, but multiple antennas, bandwidth control (where the router steers the client device to the best, most appropriate frequency/band), QAM, MU-MIMO and QoS (Quality of Service) mean that the modern router will find clever ways to distribute said bandwidth more evenly and fairly.

True - other electrical appliances in the home can affect the WiFi signal

Modern routers often try to automatically select the best Wi-Fi channel for the least interference, but many common household items can affect the signal. Electronic nannies (if they operate at 2.4 GHz), some Bluetooth devices and especially microwave ovens can affect the Wi-Fi connection. Dual-band devices can be controlled or switched to the 5 GHz band to alleviate the problem - keeping the router away from the microwave oven will also help. It is always best to place your router and/or access points in locations that provide as much free space as possible.

If you're still getting poor or interfered with Wi-Fi, it could be your neighbour's signal causing the problems. Because all routers have to operate on one of several channels (different frequency bands that Wi-Fi can use), we don't usually change these channels, so it's very likely that your neighbour's router is doing the same thing - meaning there's the possibility of multiple sets of signals interfering with each other. Moving to 5 GHz can reduce interference because while 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi only offers 3 non-overlapping channels, 5 GHz Wi-Fi offers 23 non-overlapping channels.

Myth - 5GHz is always better than 2.4GHz

Using 5 GHz can improve the Wi-Fi signal, but this is not always applicable or a better option. Using 5 GHz is great for local transfer speeds and provides both less network congestion and faster throughput in some scenarios. However, shorter radio waves mean less range than 2.4 GHz. A 5 GHz signal also does not penetrate walls, whereas a 2.4 GHz signal can (depending on wall construction).

In addition, the 2.4 GHz band works better than in the past because band control makes it less congested. Most routers and access points are now dual-band or even tri-band, meaning your devices can use the best available band. If you are still using a single-band router, it may be time to upgrade! If you need help choosing the right router, call one of our experts on the number below.