Why doesn’t my phone have a Gigabit Wi-Fi connection?
Recently Evolved Home has been fielding a lot of requests for upgraded wi-fi performance in homes. This is no surprise, given the dramatic increase in demand that remote learning, working from home, and media streaming we are all experiencing over the past few months.
At the same time, we have been seeing a major push from the internet service providers in our area to upgrade folks to Gigabit speed service. Unfortunately, a lot of people are underwhelmed with the upgrade, as they don’t experience full gigabit speeds on their phones, tablets, and other connected devices. In this post, we will try to shed light on why that is the case.
There is a common misconception that wireless devices such as most phones, tablets,
or laptops have the ability to achieve an actual Gigabit connection to a Wi-Fi access
point. We know through a combination of math, physics and properly engineered
Wi-Fi standards-based safeguards that the achievable connection for most mobile
devices in real-world situations is typically 30-40% of the negotiated connection rate.
So how do we explain this in easily understood terminology?
Most mobile devices have a 2×2 antenna setup- 2 antennas send data and 2 receive data at any given time. Devices negotiate what is called “connection rate” based on distance to the wi-fi access point, interference, and wi-fi standard being used. This is merely the negotiated, theoretical-maximum connection rate, and doesn’t represent real world speed. Basically, both the device and the wi-fi system have agreed to talk and have agreed what the fastest speed they could possibly talk will be. For example, we know that the maximum connection rate of an iPhone 11 is 866mbps on Wi-Fi 5 (assuming some standard configuration settings).
How It Actually Works
When environmental interference and device proximity come into play, we know that the realistic speed is typically 30-50% of the negotiated connection rate. This speed is dependent on the wi-fi standard being used (Wi-Fi 6 is better than Wi-Fi 5, etc), the distance to the wi-fi system antenna, and the sources of interference in the space (other wireless devices, building materials types, your neighbors wi-fi). As you move around your home, your mobile devices are constantly renegotiating the connection rate depending on the wi-fi antenna they are connected to. Devices also have near complete control of which wi-fi antenna they are connected to, and are generally slow to jump antennas unless absolutely necessary.
How To Get The Best Performance
In larger homes, the best way to achieve the highest connection rate is by having multiple wi-fi antennas spread throughout the home to create a blanket of coverage. Ideally those antennas are hard-wired, opposed to operating in a “mesh”. Mesh networks can be great problem solvers, but they are nowhere near as capable of passing high speed data as a properly connected system. Typically, you will want at least one antenna per 1,500 square feet of space- if you have a lot of stone or metal in your construction you will need more, and if you have a very open floor plan you may need less.
Using wireless antennas with higher levels of performance will also yield greater performance. Evolved Home has been specifying Wi-Fi 5 antennas for all of it’s installations for at least 5-6 years. The newest generation of Wi-Fi 6 antennas hit the market last year. Wi-Fi 6 promises slightly higher speeds (roughly 30% higher maximum), but the real improvements are in how they handle multiple devices. They are capable of delivering more data to more devices simultaneously, help extend battery life in mobile devices, and are better at mitigating interference from other nearby wi-fi networks.
In addition, not all wi-fi hardware is created equally, even if the right acronyms are on the spec sheet. Evolved Home specifies and implements true commercial-grade hardware with features that improve things like wireless roaming (when your device needs to jump from one antenna to another, the wi-fi system helps “kick” it to a better one), airtime fairness (slow devices don’t get as much speed as fast devices), and higher performing interference mitigation.
If you would like to explore upgrading your wi-fi to get the best performance possible, please reach out to Evolved Home today.
*Information provided by Access Networks