By Jennifer Mayerle

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Whether you’re streaming video, on social media or working from home, Wi-Fi is a necessity in most households these days. But with it can come big-time frustration: spotty service, dropped signals, slow speeds.

WCCO found out what’s essential to having fast, reliable Wi-Fi service at home.

Cathy Cole works from home once a week. It’s vital her connection to the internet is strong and uninterrupted. And she and her husband Gary are constantly connected.

“We can’t do without it. Between our iPads, our kindles, our Apple TV, our computers, our iPhones, it’s in constant use,” Cole said.

The empty nesters live in a two story home with a basement and face common Wi-Fi problems.

“It’s been spotty. So between the three levels of the house and then also intermittently just not working. We started out by moving the modem from the basement to the main level and that did help a lot but it still isn’t perfect at this point, there’s still a lot of frustration,” she said.

We enlisted the help of the Best Buy Geek Squad to explain how it all works.

“The cable coming in here acts as the modem and then the router is sending the signal throughout the house,” Chief Inspector Nate Bauer said.

The agents use a Wi-Fi analyzer to test the strength of the signal on each level and in every room.

Bauer said the key to strong, consistent Wi-Fi begins with the placement of the modem in a central location, having your own signal and the right equipment.

In this case, placement on the main floor is best. If it still isn’t working optimally a booster or extender may be needed.

“Booster is going to take signal coming from the router and boost the signal throughout the house,” Bauer said.

A dead spot terminator can eliminate your Wi-Fi dead zones, and the agents found neighbor interference with the Cole’s Wi-Fi.
They suggested customizing the router to have its own signal. That may require the assistance of a professional.

The diagnosis? The Cole’s were connecting too many devices and overworking the combined modem/router. The Geek Squad installed a new modem and router.

“As things continue to connect to it, the device would shut down and power cycle it so updating that technology to allow for more devices to connect to it that was the key in this home here,” Bauer said.

If a consumer rents a router/modem combo, you can ask the service provider to give you the latest model and see if that works.

Otherwise a booster is your best bet to start with. The low end cost is about
$40. If that doesn’t work, it may be time to invest in a newer router. Many routers come with extenders and dead spot terminators. They can run $130 to $300.

If you live in a smaller one story home or a condo or apartment, the Geek Squad agents said an entry level router should do the trick.

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