Wi-fi and the spinning circles of frustration…

By | May 4, 2020

When we moved house recently, we switched from our somewhat… rural… internet connection (slow and patchy really doesn’t cover it!) to a superdooper shiny Virgin connection.

“Hurrah!” we thought – no more annoying spinning circles as we’re trying to watch something on iPlayer and it keeps having to pause to catch up.  You can imagine our frustration when we got the TV and the router set up, started watching something, and… argggghhhh! It still wouldn’t play properly!

What was going on? Our internet speed into the house is great – well over 30 Mb/s (compared with a fairly shaky “1” in the old place). So we realised it must be the wi-fi signal. The router’s upstairs (because that’s where the cable comes into the house) and so the signal just wasn’t quite reaching the TV properly!

Here are a few tips that might help you out if you’re having similar problems…

  • Obvious, I know, but try moving your router physically closer to wherever it is you’re struggling to pick up a signal.  Just moving it from a corner to the middle of the wall can make a big difference.
  • Walls can make a massive difference.  If there are thick walls between the router and your TV, you might struggle.  In our case, we realised it was a chimney breast blocking the signal!  We moved the router to the other side of the room upstairs (so the signal only had to go through a single-thickness wall) and it was much better.
  • Some routers have little antenna things on them, that you can move a round. Try fiddling with the position of those – it can help.
  • Or you might find that interference is the problem.  Make sure your router (and your TV) are at least 1 metre away from any other signal sources – e.g. a baby monitor, cordless phone or next door’s router!
  • If none of that helps, you might want to try a signal booster.  This is a little gadget that picks up the wi-fi signal and transmits it again – so you can get it to go further.  If you’ve got ordinary broadband through your phone line, you can pick up a signal booster (or “wireless repeater”) from any PC shop.  If you’ve got cable broadband (like we do) it works slightly differently – your best bet is to get in touch with your supplier and see what they can do to help.

More help?

Incidentally, those of you who’ve been reading our newsletters for a while might know we also run something called the Inner Circle – which gives more help with PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones. Unlike the newsletter, this isn’t just open to everyone and in fact the doors have been closed to new members for just over a year. We’re planning to open them shortly and let new members in, but only for a few weeks, then they’ll slam shut again.

Keep your eyes peeled for more info about what it involves, why you might (or might not) want to join and how long the doors will be open for.

(And for members who are reading this: we’ll shortly be welcoming in some new members!)

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