How to Increase Router Bandwidth

Positioning a router's antennas vertically is just one way to increase bandwidth.
... Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images

Whether you are downloading files, streaming video or playing the latest multiplayer action game, if you want to get more speed out of your Wi-Fi network, you need to look at your router's bandwidth. Just as a larger pipe can give you more water, a larger bandwidth can get more data to and from your computer faster. Ensuring you have up-to-date technology is a good start. In addition to that, the position of your router and the type of adapter you have on your computer will also affect your router's bandwidth capabilities. Of course, bandwidth is also affected by your Internet connection. Having the fastest router means very little if your Internet connection is set to a dribble.

1 Upgrade Your Equipment

Wi-Fi routers took a huge leap in bandwidth capacity in 2013 with the introduction of 5G Wi-Fi, also known as 802.1ac. The bandwidth limit on these routers is double that of the previous 802.11n technology. Although it's unlikely you will get to the 1.3 Gigabit per second bandwidth 802.11ac is potentially capable of, in most cases you will still be able to get up to 331Mbps in a single data stream -- that's the connection between the router and a single Wi-Fi adapter. If you do have an 802.11ac router, you also need an 802.11ac adapter on your computer; otherwise you are limiting yourself to the older bandwidth limits, maxing out somewhere below 150 Mbps.

2 Reduce Interference

If you have your router tucked behind a cabinet, bring it out into the open to get a better signal. While metal is the worst obstruction when it comes to degrading bandwidth, wood and plaster don't help it either. Basically, the fewer objects between your router and your computer or tablet, the better your bandwidth will be. For the best signal throughout a house, put the router in a central location. If it has external antennas, point them upward vertically. Lift the router up from the floor and place it at a height that is the same as or higher than your Wi-Fi devices.

3 Dual Stream Wi-Fi

Using a Wi-Fi adapter that supports dual-stream Wi-Fi connectivity can double your bandwidth between the router and your computer. Some 802.11ac adapters emerging in 2013 can even support three-stream Wi-Fi. This is essentially the same as having two or three Wi-Fi adapters on the same computer. If you don't yet have an 802.11ac router, don't worry. A dual-stream Wi-Fi adapter will double the bandwidth if you are using an 802.11n router, too.

4 Internet Speed

When you're accessing the Internet, the bandwidth between your computer and your router is only half of the equation. The other side of router bandwidth is your Internet connection. If you are using an 802.11ac or even an 802.11n router, chances are any bandwidth bottleneck is your Internet connection. You can test your Internet bandwidth using any of the free online speed test services (see Resources for examples). Generally, fiber is faster than cable and cable is faster than DSL. Check with your Internet service provider to see what options are available and talk to other providers to see if they have something faster.

A published author and professional speaker, David Weedmark has advised businesses and governments on technology, media and marketing for more than 20 years. He has taught computer science at Algonquin College, has started three successful businesses, and has written hundreds of articles for newspapers and magazines throughout Canada and the United States.