WiFi Misconceptions

After many years of helping folks in small offices from Times Square in NYC to Seattle and in homes with Internet and WiFi, I’ve compiled a list of misconceptions I’ve encountered when helping folks.

WiFi is not radio.

Surprisingly, many folks are unaware that WiFi uses radio waves and frequencies. Because WiFi is radio, a myriad of physics principles apply that affect how WiFi works.

WiFi works everywhere because an ISP (such as Comcast) says so.

Such claims cannot and do not usurp the physics of radio. Say what they may, there are many factors that affect WiFi performance and such claims do not magically make the physics of radio irrelevant.

WiFi is the same as Internet.

Frequently I’ve been engaged to solve poor Internet connections. However, upon examination, the problem is not the Internet coming from the Internet Service Provider (ISP). Rather, the problem is poor WiFi connections from any number of factors. WiFi can and is used, sometimes, without the Internet.

WiFi is the best solution for Internet connections.

In some situations, WiFi is the worst solution for connecting to the Internet.

WiFi is unaffected by non-computer devices.

WiFi can be disrupted by other devices in the house, including some kitchen appliances.

WiFi can increase Internet speed.

WiFi will ALWAYS be slower than the speed provided by the Internet Service Provider.

Increasing wireless router’s transmit power eliminates distance problems.

This is not necessarily true, because there are least two devices involved, such as the wireless router and the laptop, that create a two-way connection. In some instances too much power will degrade performance.

Placing a WiFi extender near the user is the best location.

This is never the best solution. Strategic placement must take into account various factors.

WiFi extenders are the best solution to extend Internet.

Extenders certainly have advantages, but they may not be the best solution or provide the best performance compared to other WiFi alternatives.

— Bruce Miller

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