An Alibaba Engineer’s 30 Minute Solution to Improve Your Home’s Wi-Fi

  • Core area: This area is the center from which all network devices are interconnected and the backbone channel of the household network. Generally, it is a router or switch that provides functions such as CIDR block or route intercommunication, Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP), Internet behavior management, speed limiting, and security. It also allows direct connection by wired devices and provides large-traffic input and output capabilities, such as your home NAS, video recorders, and server connections.
  • Access area: This is the most user-oriented area of the network. In it deployed are network edge devices that can interconnect with terminals, which is just a fancy way of saying mobile phones, computers, and IoT devices, such as a smart speaker or smart thermostat. This is usually a port of a wireless router access point or a switch.

Symptoms of Wi-Fi Failures

  • Symptom 1: The Wi-Fi network has problems such as network disconnection, packet loss, lag, sudden speed changes, high jitter, and instability.

Wi-Fi Signal Optimization Principles

1. Appropriately reduce the transmission power of the wireless router to 17 dB (50 MW). The referenced indoor communication radius is 8 to 12 meters.

  • Reduce the number of devices: Generally, the more wireless routers you have, the higher the probability of terminal roaming, disconnection, and reconnection. In addition, the probability of protocol conflicts, such as DHCP coverage conflicts and same-frequency interference, and the complexity of the network architecture also increase. Therefore, you need to reduce the number of devices as much as possible.
  • Wireless relay: In large houses without weak current network ports in each area, to reduce the construction work required and the visual impact, you can use a “bridge relay” or a MESH-based deployment solution. However, using a relay MESH solution where a wireless bridge is used for interconnection will negatively affect the final user experience. The reason is easy to understand. Each connection causes bandwidth loss and ultimately reduces the overall bandwidth. For each hop of the bridge, the bandwidth is reduced by half. Therefore, we recommend you only use one level of sub-routers.
  • Power Line Communication (PLC) modems: In large houses without weak current network ports in each area, to reduce the required construction work, you can also use PLC modems, which are a powerful tool. Using frequency division technology, the PLC modem transforms normal electrical wires into communication lines. You can deploy a PLC modem to extend the communications network along an electrical wire system in the area of a single electrical meter. However, in terms of electromagnetic characteristics, electric wires are not optimized for high-frequency signal transmission and cannot be compared with dedicated communication cables such as optical cables, twisted pairs, and coaxial cables. Electric wires have the disadvantages of high interference and poor signal integrity and are vulnerable to high current fluctuations during peak power consumption hours or due to unstable voltage. Therefore, this solution has inherent defects in communication quality and stability and many fault points. If you have high requirements for network stability, we do not recommend this method.

Network Optimization Methods

Wi-Fi Locations and Spectrum Design for Different Apartment Types

  • Small Apartments

Network Architecture Design

If you are in the process or have the opportunity to design your own house, we recommend that you design your household network architecture layer by layer referring to the description in the preface of this article.

Architecture Related Questions

  • We use 100 Mbit/s ADSL bandwidth in our home. Why doesn’t the tested bandwidth on our computers and mobile phones reach 100 Mbit/s?
  • Key access resources: Access to popular websites and apps is ensured by networks of the three major carriers in China. Check the situation in your local country. If you have special requirements, for example, if you need to communicate a home in another city through a high-traffic video stream, you can select the carrier with the lowest number of hops to the target IP address. To trace the number of hops and latency, you can run the tracert x.x.x.x command.
  • My network disconnects frequently, and some devices cannot access the Internet. Why is an exclamation mark displayed in the network connection icon on my terminal?

Security-Related Questions

  • How can I make sure that I have good network security?
  • Moderate protection: We recommend that you mask the household Wi-Fi SSID. Technically, the SSID name can be captured by capturing packets. Therefore, you need to add matching policies. You can configure WPA2 AES CCMP for strong encryption, disable DHCP, enable static address allocation, add MAC address binding, restrict MAC access, and implement other policies individually or in combination.
  • Strict protection: In addition to the measures in the preceding two modes, you can purchase firewalls at different levels, strictly design inbound and outbound data traffic policies, and strictly protect the security of all devices and systems in your home. For example, you can regularly update the software of router devices and access point devices to remove software security and functional vulnerabilities.
  • My Wi-Fi password is quite complex and I can’t remember it myself. How did someone else crack it? What should I do?

Router and Other Device Related Questions

  • What devices, including wireless routers, should I purchase for my home?

Performance Testing

  • Test tool: For PCs, you can use Inssider, WirelessMon, or Wireless Netview based on your system.
  • Indicators: In the target coverage area, the received signal strength is greater than or equal to -75 dBm, and in areas with voice and video services, the received signal strength is greater than or equal to -67 dBm.

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