Boost Your Internet for Free: My Secrets to High-Speed at Home

In the final decade, I’ve lived in a handful of locations throughout Los Angeles, and every had its personal distinctive points getting web entry. Wrestling with various speeds and repair reliability opened my eyes to mastering methods to enhance my connectivity, regardless of my ZIP code. 

This story is a part of Crossing the Broadband Divide, CNET’s protection of how the nation is working towards making broadband entry common.

I’ve lived in every little thing from a Faraday cage concrete constructing in downtown Los Angeles to a Santa Monica beach-side house with an unique settlement with a sluggish ISP. It solely acquired higher in my present Hollywood place — no impenetrable constructing supplies and I acquired to decide on my web service supplier.

A graphic for CNET's Crossing the Broadband Divide package A graphic for CNET's Crossing the Broadband Divide package

Tharon Green/CNET

I’m lucky. Most of my LA family and friends undergo from unhealthy web — which is loopy since you’d assume a metropolis like LA would have simply accessible high-quality web city-wide, not simply in some neighborhoods. And I can solely think about what smaller communities throughout the US take care of with regards to web service.

Through all my strikes, I’ve constructed up a toolkit of free methods to maximise my web connection, regardless of how poky it’s. And when you can throw cash on the drawback — comparable to including a Wi-Fi extender — most of those strategies do not require you to spend cash, which is at all times an excellent place to start out.

Here are my web speed-improving suggestions you should use earlier than you progress, proper after you progress or the place you reside proper now — and you are able to do it without cost or for little or no cash.

Read extra: My Home Internet Journey: What I Learned From Testing Wi-Fi and Ethernet Connections

A woman with a laptop on her lap A woman with a laptop on her lap

There’s a lot you are able to do to enhance your possibilities at getting an awesome web connection earlier than you progress.

FG Trade/Getty Images

Get higher web service earlier than you progress

If you are shifting into a brand new place, first, congratulations. Second, sorry. Moving is a ache within the butt, even should you plan nicely (ask me about my main transfer in 2023). You can begin packing your containers weeks upfront, create a guidelines for altering your tackle and rent movers — and there’ll nonetheless be issues that do not prove the best way you deliberate.

An typically ignored a part of shifting is contemplating web service suppliers, particularly whenever you’re evaluating locations. Unlike sq. footage, the variety of bogs or native faculties, many people do not give a lot thought to ISPs till we have truly signed the lease/mortgage and moved.

When taking a look at a brand new place, do your web homework and speak to the realtor or landlord. Better but ask your potential neighbors, about web choices within the neighborhood and whether or not they’re reasonably priced, quick and dependable. Check to see if they’ve workarounds or methods they use to enhance their web.

You may try any location together with your state’s broadband map web site, if it has one, to see all your web choices. In California, we’ve got the California Interactive Broadband Map. Once you enter an tackle, you possibly can filter to indicate simply fastened broadband, in addition to cellular choices, for ISPs. Some websites embrace marketed add and obtain speeds and beware that maps is probably not up-to-date. Despite not exhibiting evaluations for ISPs within the space, websites like this do present an honest image of what you’ll select from.

CA Interactive Broadband Map CA Interactive Broadband Map

As you possibly can see, this location solely has two fastened broadband choices to select from, however has many cellular alternate options.

Nelson Aguilar/CNET

If you need extra of our steering, CNET has a complete catalog of all the very best web service suppliers from throughout the nation, every story sorted by state, metropolis or city, offering informative evaluations and comparisons to get the very best ISP in your space.

Check out: Internet Provider Comparisons

Another factor to do earlier than you progress is to test the constructing supplies of your potential dwelling. Routers transmit over-the-air radio waves to attach your varied gadgets to your private home’s web community. But the supplies in your house can disrupt these alerts (very similar to I found in my earlier concrete-and-brick loft house). 

Wi-Fi alerts have an particularly troublesome time penetrating supplies like metallic, concrete and brick, which means that even when your web connection is quick and dependable, your bodily dwelling can disrupt your sign and restrict your connectivity in your house. Common constructing supplies like plywood, drywall and glass do not have an effect on your Wi-Fi sign as a lot as these denser supplies. 

Get higher web service proper after you progress

You lastly moved into your new dwelling, and now it is time to decide on an ISP. If you do not have already got an concept of choices in your space, use web sites like Broadband Now or All Connect to see which ISPs can be found. You may kind in your new tackle into AT&T’s, Spectrum’s or Xfinity’s web sites to see related info.

When deciding on an ISP, begin together with your estimated necessities. That’ll provide you with a fast rundown as to what quick web is, how a lot web you employ, add versus obtain speeds, knowledge caps and extra.

Don’t Miss: Internet Speed: How Much Do You Really Need?

Unfortunately, you may nonetheless face points with connection power and pace after set up and when you begin utilizing the brand new service.

Most ISP’s have a 30-day money-back assure, provided by Spectrum, Verizon, Cox and others. Usually which means that you may cancel your web inside 30 days and get a full refund with out paying an early termination charge (minus any potential set up or restocking charges). Other ISPs, like AT&T (2 weeks), have totally different refund assure insurance policies, or none in any respect (Frontier).

Spectrum 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee Spectrum 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee

Before selecting an web service supplier, learn the 30-day money-back assure very carefully to see should you apply.

Nelson Aguilar/CNET

I took benefit of this to check out three ISP providers in my new dwelling, and located that promised speeds differed among the many three after the service was connected.

Another factor you are able to do to get quicker web speeds is to not go together with your ISP’s gear — solely use the modem they supply. Renting a router out of your ISP is handy, however it might find yourself being dearer for you over an extended time period, and the router choices are restricted and is probably not the most suitable choice to your dwelling. 

It will be irritating to comprehend that you have been paying for increased speeds that your ISP-provided router cannot even ship. Also ensure you’re utilizing the proper cables to attach your modem to your router and router to your gadgets, as Cat5 and older cables could not carry your quicker speeds (Cat6e and newer usually assist client web speeds).

Don’t Miss: Should You Buy or Rent Your Router? The Wrong Decision Cost Me Nearly $1K

Get higher web service at your present dwelling

Maybe you are not shifting, and you have been coping with unhealthy web service for some time now at your present dwelling. You can nonetheless enhance your web pace, regardless of how lengthy you’ve got been residing there.

I wish to persist with the theme of not spending cash to get quicker web speeds, however you might need to contemplate paying extra when you’ve got gradual web at your long-term residence.

The one factor you are able to do that is comparatively low cost is to look into your web service contract and see should you can cancel early with none early termination charges. Then you possibly can store round and take a look at totally different ISPs which may work higher.

However, should you’re caught in a contract, or wish to make your current ISP work, one of many best methods to enhance your speeds is to improve your router, which sure, prices cash, however will be the reply to your web woes — and in contrast to spending extra to your month-to-month plan, is a one-time buy. 

For a very long time, I had Netgear’s Nighthawk R66700 router, which is taken into account a usually good model, however I wasn’t getting nice speeds at my dwelling, regardless of a high-speed plan. 

Read now: Best Wi-Fi Routers for 2024

After consulting with just a few CNET colleagues, I made a decision to improve my dwelling setup to a mesh router system (extra particularly, the Eero 6 Plus), which gives extra dependable Wi-Fi protection in greater houses, or houses which have lifeless zones (which is an issue in my present house), in comparison with your typical single unit routers.

two Eero 6 Plus mesh router units two Eero 6 Plus mesh router units

The Eero 6 Plus mesh router has been a godsend for my house, which is sort of 1800 sq ft.

Ry Crist/CNET

Depending on the mesh router system, a number of routers are positioned round your private home, and so they all work as a single unit, maintaining you related it doesn’t matter what room you are in. A mesh community is an funding, however there are reasonably priced choices on the market, like Google’s Nest WiFi, Netgear’s Orbi AC1200 or the TP-Link Deco W7200.

Don’t Miss: Best Mesh Wi-Fi Systems in 2024: Top Rated Routers for Whole-Home Wi-Fi

I do know that Wi-Fi extenders may look like the reply for getting higher speeds in your house, particularly as a result of they’re fairly cheap, however extenders do not carry out in addition to mesh networks, and so they do not usually work as a cohesive unit throughout your private home.

Unfortunately, a mesh community will not be the miracle repair for everybody, as a result of as I discussed earlier than, every dwelling has its personal distinctive issues. The repair may find yourself being a defective Ethernet cable or updating your modem’s firmware. It may even be so simple as restarting your router. We all know that works each on occasion.

The neatest thing you are able to do, with out spending cash, is to carry out just a few diagnostic exams to pinpoint your setup’s weak level, like operating a pace take a look at, connecting to totally different gadgets, utilizing Wi-Fi near your router and rebooting your varied web gadgets.

Of course, it is potential that you just run via all these recommendations and discover that none will repair your explicit state of affairs. Though unlucky, there’s at all times the final resort: bumping up your service tier and paying extra to get quicker web. 

Which is, for higher or worse, a contemporary necessity.

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