If your Wi-Fi and cellular have recently been a source of annoyance due to lengthier load times or dropped Zoom calls, your internet signal strength is most likely the problem. When left unfixed, a weak Wi-Fi and cell signal can cause dropouts, slower speeds, and unpredictable connections, which we could all do without these days, primarily if you work from home. Follow the steps below on how to check internet signal strength and assess it to understand better where your Wi-Fi or cellular is underperforming.
The strength of your internet signal determines the reliability of your internet connection. Your connection will be more reliable if the signal is more robust. How internet signal strength is measured and expressed differs from how internet speed is measured and represented. Both speed and signal strength, on the other hand, are interdependent for the optimal internet experience and connection.
Knowing the strength of the internet signal in different parts of your house can help you decide whether it’s worth replacing your router with a mesh Wi-Fi system, where you can place security cameras outside, and how to diagnose any problems specific gadgets may be having. All you need to test internet signal strength is an iPhone or Android phone and free software.
Why does internet signal strength matter?
A more dependable connection equals a more robust internet signal. This allows you to take maximum advantage of the available internet speeds.
The strength of your internet connection is determined by several factors, including your distance from the router or cell tower, whether you’re using a 2.4 or 5GHz connection, and even the materials of the walls around you. The better, the closer you are to the router or mobile tower. While 2.4GHz links emit more information, they may cause interference. A Wi-Fi or cell signal will be blocked by thicker walls composed of denser materials (such as concrete).
Slower speeds, dropouts, and (in certain situations) complete disconnection result from a poorer signal. As a result, if you use cellphone signals to access the internet, you should look into techniques to improve mobile signal strength at home or work. Then you’ll convert your house or business into a smart hub.
What’s a good internet signal strength?
Before we check the internet signal strength, we must first understand the numbers; otherwise, they will be worthless. The strength of an Internet signal is measured in decibels (dBm) or as a percentage (RSSI). RSSI stands for received signal strength indicator, and the phone apps will display it.
The stronger the signal is, the closer the value is to 0. That may appear to be backward because the values are negative. As a result, a higher number indicates a weaker signal, while a lower number shows a stronger signal. It’s also not a linear scale. A 3dBm decline in signal strength (for instance, from -50 to -53dBm) suggests the signal is half as strong. A 3dBm rise, on the other hand, suggests the internet signal is now twice as robust.
Here’s a quick rundown of what your test results signify in terms of typical internet applications:
- -50dBm: Excellent signal strength. Unless your device is adjacent to the internet network’s source, you’ll rarely see well than this.
- -55 to -60dBm: High-quality signal. Devices should work properly, and video should stream smoothly.
- -70dBm: Low quality: Not quite video quality, but adequate for email and web browsing.
- -80dBm: For a basic connection, minimum signal strength is required. Useless.
How to check internet signal Strength –The easy way
To test the strength of your Wi-Fi or cellular internet signal, start by looking at the device that is having problems. It would help if you had a Wi-Fi connection indication whether you’re using an iPhone, iPad, Android, Mac, or Windows PC. The Wi-Fi emblem is usually made up of four or five curving lines, with the more filled lines indicating a stronger connection. For cellular devices, you should have vertical bars indicating the strength of the network.
Every phone, tablet, and laptop is different, so the Wi-Fi or cellular internet strength may vary. However, it is worthwhile to consult a second or even third gadget. If you tested a phone, you should also test a tablet. Compare the internet speeds on both devices and look at the Wi-Fi or cellular strength indicators. If both give you similar results, you’ve got a great baseline to work with.
If you’ve determined that your Wi-Fi or cellular signal is weak in a specific location, wander around and watch the Wi-Fi or cellular bars on your smartphone or tablet. Please keep track of your distance from the router/cell towers and the number of walls between you and them. Keep an eye on your bars as they rise and fall. It’s a basic check, but it should suffice in most circumstances.
How to check internet signal Strength –The advanced ways
You can only talk so much about a symbol by looking at its bars. You’ll need to use an app or application (like the AirPort Utility app or Wi-Fi Analyzer) to measure your Wi-Fi decibels relative to a milliwatt to go deeper into its strength (dBm).
An internet signal can be measured in a variety of ways. Milliwatt (mW) is the most precise measurement, but they’re also the most difficult to read due to the number of decimal places (0.0001 mW). Another alternative is the Received Signal Strength Indicator (RSSI); however, Wi-Fi companies handle it differently and on different scales. The decibels relative to milliwatt (dBm) measurement overcome these issues, and many manufacturers convert RSSI to dBm anyhow, so we’ll discuss that.
1) How to check internet signal strength on a Phone
Use the Airport Utility App for iPhone and iPad or Wi-Fi Analyzer for Android to check internet signal strength on your phone or tablet. Both are simple to use and display results for any nearby wireless network.
The Airport Utility App requires iPhone users to go into their device settings and turn on the Wi-Fi scanner. Open the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad (not the app’s settings), select Airport Utility from the list, and toggle on “Wi-Fi Scanner.” Return to the Airport Utility app and begin scanning. You’ll see dBm measurements expressed as RSSI.
Wi-Fi Analyzer is a step forward for Android users. Open the app and search for the networks you’ve discovered. The strength of each entry will be listed in decibels (dBm)
2) How to check internet signal strength on Windows
There is no built-in Wi-Fi signal strength meter in Windows, but there are various premium and free apps that can do this for you. We recommend inSSIDer because it is free, trustworthy, and simple. Follow the instructions on the installation page to get started with inSSIDer: install the software, establish a free account, and then log in with that account.
3) How to check internet signal strength on a Mac
With a simple shortcut on a Mac, you may examine the dBm level of your Wi-Fi network. To display the signal strength in decibels (dBm), press and hold the option key while clicking the Wi-Fi icon in the menu bar.
How to improve internet Signal Strength
There are several reasons why your Wi-Fi signal is weak, and your troubleshooting choices are numerous. Here are some simple remedies for a poor internet signal, similar to how to boost cell signals at home for free. They include;
- Relocating your router to a more central place in your home.
- Updating the firmware on your router to the most recent version
- Changing between the two Wi-Fi frequencies (2.4 GHz is ideal for coverage; 5 GHz is ideal for speed)
- Changing your Wi-Fi channel
- Investing in an internet booster. An internet booster works by removing dead zones in your house or office, increasing signal strength in all directions.
- Ascertain that the router’s antennae are correctly positioned.
It may be time to upgrade your router if it is older. Look for one that supports both 2.4 and 5 GHz Wi-Fi transmissions while doing so. Although the 5 GHz signal may not reach as far as the 2.4 GHz signal, it offers additional choices for avoiding interference.
If you’ve discovered that you can only go a short distance from your router without losing signal strength, a Wi-Fi system for a mesh network arrangement could quickly fill up the gap. The possibilities for improvement are infinite now that you know how to test your internet signal strength.
If you prefer to do things yourself and don’t mind getting less precise findings, you can walk about your house holding each gadget to see where the signal grows or diminishes (based on the number of bars). This will give you a fair indication of where your internet signal is most potent in your area. Use an online Wi-Fi analyzer tool or a mobile app that records your Wi-Fi signal strength and offers you information per device for a more detailed look at your internet signal strength.