According to countless studies, being able to access Wi-Fi is considered highly important to us. It is even said to be completely essential to our everyday life. To most people getting access to Wi-Fi is also roughly the same thing as having a functioning Internet connection. Wrong as this may be, CSPs are therefore often blamed when the Wi-Fi connection falters. So, what then are the real causes of “bad” Wi-Fi?
Posted by Mårten Olsson.
Competing signals causes unstable Wi-Fi
Many Internet home users experience trouble with their Internet connection, even though their router isn’t indicating any problems whatsoever. This may very well be caused by disturbances by competing airwaves from the neighbours’ Wi-Fi, wireless devices, microwave ovens, LED dimmers and so on. They tend to clutter up the Wi–Fi spectrum leading to disturbances in the signal. It’s like trying to listen to the radio when four different radio stations are broadcasting on the same frequency. There are, to put it simply, too many signals running through the same channel. These are problems that most CSPs get a lot of calls to their customer service department about, but since they only provide the Internet connection – not the Wi-Fi solution – there is very little they can do about it.
Old routers not built for streaming services
Another common problem for the at-home Internet user, is trying to use streaming services on their devices, only to be interrupted by a buffering symbol that tends to spin on the screen forever, ruining the experience. It’s especially annoying since many CSP customers today are offered high-speed Internet, and they therefore expect everything to run fast and smoothly. Well, that may be, but all too many still use old routers that were probably built to handle web-browsing and email – not multiple users on different high–quality streaming platforms. HD and 4K calls for tons more data since they deliver drastically higher resolution images. Therefore, streaming services need a lot more bandwidth to deliver films smoothly without “the spinning wheel of death” ruining movie night.
So where does this leave the CSP? Most customers simply call the operator and complain that the high–speed Internet isn’t very speedy at all. The CSP, in turn, replies that their high-speed Internet is running at full speed, leaving the customer thinking that they might not be completely truthful.
Poorly placed routers give bad Wi-Fi coverage
A router is, essentially, a radio transmitter and a radio transceiver. Depending on where in the end customer’s home it is placed, the signals emanating from it will be distributed in different ways, depending on its surroundings. Signals can be blocked by all kinds of things inside the home – furniture or walls – and the extent to which they are blocked depend on the materials they are made of. Most people place their routers at the entrance of their homes, since that is usually the endpoint of the fiber. However, for optimal distribution of signals, the best place would most likely be in the middle of the home. Therefore, in many homes there are “dark spots” to where the Wi-Fi signals simply can’t reach. The most common “solution” to this problem? To just accept the bad signal as a fact? Maybe, but most likely, the customer will call the CSP, letting them know that the Internet is not working very well, even though the actual Internet connection isn’t the problem.
CSPs can take charge of the situation
All these problems are rooted in the Internet users Wi-Fi solutions and could easily be solved by better and better Wi–Fi solution and better knowledge about the products and how to use them. Most of these problems are also typically not the responsibility of the CSPs, yet it is still them that the customers call when something goes wrong with the Wi-Fi. Certainly, many CSPs offer Wi-Fi routers as a part of the Internet subscription. However, to lower cost, these products sometimes only cover the basic needs for the Internet user – and not much more. Also, over time such products may have gotten old and don’t cover the new, added needs that for example streaming services require. This means that customers might look for alternative solutions. For example, at-home Internet users sometimes purchase their own retail Wi-Fi solutions. Sometimes this works perfectly, but more often than not, the end customer has little to no knowledge about how to properly place and install it. This leads to some of the problems mentioned above, and since the average end customer can’t differentiate between Wi-Fi problems and problems with the Internet connection, it is easy to then just blame the CSP. The CSPs, however, have no possibility to provide service for products that they don’t supply, leaving the customer increasingly dissatisfied, and feeling like the CSPs are not taking their responsibility. In the long run, such problems may very well lead to a bad reputation for the CSPs and an increased churn.
But what if the CSP offered more than just a Wi–Fi router? What if they could offer a solution that provides full home coverage and eradicates disturbances? That way they could take control of a situation they will take the blame for but lack the tools to handle. This would be a new way to grow the business by offering the services that the end customers already think they do. And continue to do so as understanding of the home network user develops.
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