Lots of businesses and home users get frustrated with their internet, struggling with slow connections and multiple dropouts. I often read comments from people on blogs and forums where they will say something along the lines of “I’ve got full signal on my Wi-Fi, but my internet is so slow” why is that? There is obviously some confusion which I’ll attempt to clarify in simple, plain English.
To do that first we need to clarify two technical terms that are important in this particular case. Essentially, when you connect your laptop of smartphone to a Wi-Fi network you are actually connecting to two different networks.
To keep this simple let’s picture a simple small office. Sat in my office I connect to the local Wi-Fi connection. That Wi-Fi will connect my laptop to the internal router over in the corner where the wires and all the internet gubbins are. That connection is my local network, or to give it its full name my LOCAL Area Network or LAN for short.
Once I connect to the router, that router will process all my data and send that out on to the public internet connection. It takes that data from my front door to the local exchange and to the wider internet beyond. That connection is called the WIDE Area Network or WAN for short.
So, you can see there are two key networks, both the LAN and the WAN need to be in tip top condition for me to enjoy a good wireless experience on my laptop or smartphone.
It is entirely possible (and quite common) to have invested in a superfast dedicated fibre optic internet connection (The WAN) but if you connect that to a poorly set up or poorly managed internal set up (The LAN) you will still have a poor end user experience.
Likewise, you could invest in the latest, highest spec router, with additional wireless access points dotted about all over, giving you full signal bars on your laptops and smart phones, but if as soon as that data leaves your router and is passed out to your public internet connection, if that internet connection (WAN) is poor, the fact that you have a super-duper router (LAN) is completely irrelevant, you’ll still have a poor end user experience.
Both your WAN’s and/or your LAN’s can be upgraded to guarantee the best performance but there is little point in doing one without the other. WAN’s can be upgraded with fibre optic leased lines and LAN’s can be upgraded by using blend of certified data cabling a proper managed Wi-Fi network.
If you’re looking for any more advice delivered in plain English please get in touch, I’d be happy to help.