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What’s going on with my WiFi?

I’ve spoke with conservatively 1,000 home internet users in my life and there are six misconceptions that I have fought. Hopefully this is useful 🙂

  1. My internet doesn’t work
    Internet providers monitor a ton of things in their network. By the time you get upset that something has acted up, there’s a couple people frantically typing to see what happened. Staying on hold for 6 hours in the hopes of unloading on a rep that doesn’t know how to splice fiber or run a backhoe is just ignorant. Go take a walk.
  2. It is so slow
    If you went from a kid or two streaming a movie during the summer and now you have four of five people using the internet 18 hours per day, it will be slow. Remember back when you were younger and someone else turned on the faucet while you were in shower? The water pressure cut in half. That’s how the Internet works. Everyone in your house doesn’t get full speed for every device. If your speed is 10 and there’s 5 people streaming, you all get 2, not 10.
  3. My WiFi doesn’t work
    Force all of your devices to the highest speed ranges you can and disable 802.11b and 802.11g. It’s a noisy range filled with old phones and microwave ovens. Don’t call your internet provider and try to do testing from a 15 year old laptop while you’re four houses away. Sit by your modem and have a decent computer plugged into the network jack.
  4. I need a WiFi repeater
    No, you really don’t. You’re mistaking slow Internet speeds for slow WiFi speeds. No congestion problem has been improved by added more congestion. Get your access point out of the basement underneath the furnace ducts and you’ll be amazed. Slightly more technical but turn off the slow bands on your modem/router and overlap with as few neighbors as you can. See #2 and #3.
  5. It’s not fast enough
    Internet service is still constrained by physics. I’d love to put a device in your house that tunnels things back through another dimension and charge you $49 per month but that doesn’t exist yet. The wire or fiber or radio service to your home delivers it all. If you call your provider and ask to pay for the fastest thing they can deliver, they will deliver it. If that isn’t fast enough, you need to adjust your expectations. There’s always something faster but unless you want to pay a few thousand dollars per month for your home Internet, you don’t have more than the one or two options that put in the lines past your house.
  6. You all suck
    No Internet Service Provider employee goes to work stroking their goatee and planning how to piss off their customers. They know the shortcoming in their network and have brought it up before many times with the people that can authorize fixing those things. See the last part of #1 again.
  7. (BONUS ITEM) It’s not a monopoly
    Your local government allows companies that have filled out the proper paperwork to bury things in front of or behind your house. The Phone Company/Cable Company is not killing off competing providers. They are too busy trying to kill each other and exchange customers every quarter. If you would like an alternative, arrange one. Don’t switch providers whenever the other one gives you $3 off per month.
    New wireless and fiber technology has made providing Internet service the least expensive it has ever been. Digging holes to bury fiber is still expensive but fiber never wears out and has essentially limitless capacity. If you’re unhappy, find a way to change it.




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