Understanding Wi-Fi: A Simple Guide for Everyday Use

1. Wi-Fi vs. Ethernet Cable:

  • Wi-Fi: Allows you to connect to the internet wirelessly.
  • Ethernet Cable: A physical cable that connects your device to the modem.

Why is Wi-Fi Slower than an Ethernet Cable?

  • Interference: Other devices and networks can interfere with the Wi-Fi signal.
  • Distance: The further you are from the router, the weaker the signal.
  • Walls and Obstacles: Walls and furniture can block or weaken the Wi-Fi signal.

2. Wi-Fi Speeds: 2.5 GHz vs. 5 GHz:

  • 2.5 GHz Band:
    • Maximum Speed: Up to 100 Mbps, often maxed out at 54 Mbps.
    • Range: Covers a larger area but at slower speeds.
  • 5 GHz Band:
    • Maximum Speed: Up to 1 Gbps (1000 Mbps).
    • Range: Faster but doesn’t reach as far as 2.5 GHz.

Note: These speeds are theoretical maximums. Real-world speeds may vary.

3. Speed vs. Distance:

  • Closer to the Router: Faster speeds.
  • Further from the Router: Slower speeds.

4. Signal Degrading Through Walls:

  • Thicker Walls: More signal loss.
  • Open Spaces: Better signal.

5. Neighbor Interference:

  • Many Wi-Fi Networks: Can cause interference and slow down your connection.
  • Solution: Use a different channel on your router (a tech-savvy family member or technician can help with this, but only use channels 1, 6 or 11 in the 2.5 Ghz range).

6. Tips for Better Internet Reliability and Speed:

  • Place the Router in a Central Location: Helps the signal reach all areas of your home.
  • Avoid Obstacles: Keep the router away from large metal objects and thick walls.
  • Update Your Equipment: Older routers may not support faster speeds.
  • Consider Using an Ethernet Cable: If you have a computer that stays in one place, a direct cable connection might be best for that device.


Wi-Fi is a wonderful tool that lets you use the internet all around your home, but it does have some limitations. Understanding these can help you make the most of your connection. If you ever find that your internet is slow or unreliable, don’t hesitate to ask a family member or call your service provider for help. They can check your equipment and settings to make sure everything is working as it should.