Wireless is an extremely convenient  technology, however, it is not, at least in certain circumstances, a particularly good one. Out in the suburbs, where the nearest other transmitters are 2 of them about 30 meters away each, wi-fi is a reasonable technology. In a crowded hi-rise with 8 or 9 transmitters within 20 meters things can get very tricky. Conventional (b-g-n) wifi lives on the 2.4 GHz band. This band is shared with all kinds of other devices like cordless phones and baby monitors. There are 11 channels (each 20 MHz wide) stuffed into a window just over 100 MHz in width. Adjacent channels overlap–very badly. Only channels 1, 6 and 11 are far enough apart from each other not to hear overlap from nearer channels. Conventional wifi is not recommended in a densely packed hi-rise. The 5 GHz band (used by type a-c wifi) is supported by dual-band routers. These routers cost more than b-g-n only routers but they are worth the expense as reception and transmission are almost always superior on the 5 GHz band. Warning: many older and/or less expensive devices (a 2009 laptop, a 2011 I-pod) cannot support the 5GHz band.

Wifi is subject to interference. If your transmitter and receiver (router and computer) are in a place with a LOT of wifi traffic they will need to pick out the signal from a cacaphony of noise put out by other transmitters. This can lead to the vast majority of your traffic turning into the equivalent of:

“not understood retransmit; not understood retransmit; not understood retransmit:…………”

If this occurs, your transmission rate can slow beneath a crawl. Most routers are set by default to channel “auto” meaning the router will try to “guess” the least crowded channel based on what it samples from other routers. Most routers are, at best, “kind-of-ok, sort of” at doing this successfully. It may be necessary, sometimes, to log into the router and manually set a fixed channel to avoid your neighbors. We can help you with this so contact us at 312-224-1752 if you get confused.

Those of you old enough to remember rabbit-ear TV antenna systems will also remember that physically moving the antenna (even a few centimeters!) might have a profound effect (good or bad) on quality of signal. Technologically, Wifi is not that much an improvement over rabbit ears.

It is VERY USEFUL to go to a site like http://speedtest.net and compare your wired and wireless speeds. If your wireless speeds are something like 40% or 2% or 0.0054% of your wired speed you almost certainly need to change wifi channels. Normally, wireless should be about 80% as fast as wired. Keep in mind it is perfectly possible for your wifi speed to go from 45 Mbps to 1.5 Mbps over the span of just a few hours….meanwhile your wired speed at the start of that period was 74 Mbps and at the end of that period your wired speed is 79 Mbps. Wireless is very sensitive to potential external interference.

This is a fault of wifi. The only thing FiberXL (or AT&T, or Xfinity, or Comcast, or Verizon, or RCN or ….) anybody who provides internet can control is your signal out of the wall. Wifi is inherently chancy with any provider under crowded conditions. Once you switch over to wifi you are at the mercy of your neighbors, stray electromagnetic noise, the FCC, and the fates.  Keep in mind that a wired connection will always be faster and more reliable than a wireless one. It is wise to do all “mission-critical” operations wiredly if possible. It is perfectly possible, by the way, for your wireless conditions to go from “totally fantastic” to “utterly horrible” in a matter of a few hours where during those few hours, your wired connection is absolutely and completely unchanged.

Some of the newer laptops are designed to be “wifi only”…id est they don’t have an ethernet port built in. There is a trick however that can get you a wired connection: almost all of these machines can use an external ethernet port which plugs into the machine with an ordinary USB plug. You can find such adapters online for usually less than $20.