Weak WiFi signal strength can get in the way of your online activities such as content streaming, gaming, or working. Most people gauge their WiFi signal strength by taking a glance at the 4 (or sometimes 5) bars on that familiar WiFi strength icon. However, in reality, WiFi signals are more complex than this icon would suggest. If you want a more accurate picture of your wireless network, conducting a WiFi signal strength test is a better approach. Here we’re going to delve into how signal strength works and how you can improve your WiFi signal strength using a WiFi signal strength test. Let’s take a look.
Measuring WiFi signal strength can be somewhat confusing depending on which method you use. Milliwatts (mW) is generally considered to be the most accurate way of measuring WiFi signal strength, however, it’s exceptionally difficult to read and understand. Why? Because WiFi signals have such low transmit power, when you measure in mW you get a value with lots of zeros. A WiFi signal strength of -30 dBm (excellent signal) is equivalent to 0.001 mW. However, a strength of -60 dBm (Good signal) is 0.000001. This can be difficult for people to read and interpret, and if something is difficult to understand then it’s essentially useless to the end-user.
WiFi signal strength can also be measured using a Received Signal Strength Indicator (RSSI). Most routers will use RSSI, but how they handle it can differ. Sometimes RSSI is measured on a scale of 0-60, and sometimes it’s measured on a scale of 0-255. Therefore, while RSSI is useful, it can also be a point of confusion.
Ultimately, the best way to measure WiFi signal strength is in dBm (decibels in relation to milliwatts). All routers will convert RSSI to dBm, and the way dBm is read has been standardized, making it a reliable and consistent way of measuring signals. Here’s what you need to know about dBm:
- dBm is always represented as a negative value, usually between -30 and -100.
- How to read dBm:
- -30 dBm – Excellent signal. This can only be achieved in ideal conditions and in very close proximity to the router.
- – 50 dBm – Very good signal strength.
- -60 dBm – Good signal strength.
- -67 dBm – Decent, reliable signal strength. You should still be able to stream video.
- 70 dBm – Okay signal strength. Suitable for browsing the web and using email, but will be unreliable for anything else.
- – 80 dBm – This is the minimum threshold for basic connectivity. It’s very unlikely that you will be able to do many online activities.
- -90 to -100 dBm – Extremely weak or non-existent signal (for all practical purposes).
One of the best ways to check your WiFi signal strength is to conduct a WiFi signal strength test with an analyzer app like NetSpot. With NetSpot, you can get a comprehensive view of your WiFi signal across your entire coverage area. This means you can easily uncover key areas of signal weakness in your home or workplace, and address the issue directly. Without getting a comprehensive and detailed view of your wireless network, any amendments you make are essentially guesswork. NetSpot is considered one of the best WiFi analyzer apps on the market due to its ease of use, and the vast range of data it can uncover about your network. When it comes to improving your WiFi signal, the more knowledge you have, the better.
First, you need to download and install NetSpot to your preferred device. NetSpot is available on all major operating systems including Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. While the premium version of NetSpot does include additional features that can help you optimize and perfect your network to a greater degree, the free version is more than sufficient for determining your WiFi signal strength.
Once you have downloaded and installed the app, it’s time to launch it and start your WiFi signal strength test!
From here, you should see the “Discover” tab at the top of the app’s main window. Select this option.
You will now be presented with all the wireless networks in your area. Select your network to continue.
Once selected, you will be able to see a range of statistics about your network, including your signal strength.
To get an accurate reading of how signal strength varies in your coverage area, move around with your device, and take note of any changes. Armed with the information from your WiFi signal strength test, you can begin to make changes to your environment to get a more optimal experience. For example, you might find that your device is experiencing poor signal strength because it’s surrounded by radio-wave inhibiting materials like dense wood or several walls.
There you go! It’s that simple. You’re only one app download away from improving your WiFi signal and getting more from your devices.