When you get a new router, I recommend you reuse the exact same SSID (network name) and Wi-Fi password as you did in your old equipment. Now, this may sound like a no-brainer to many of you, but please hear me out and let me qualify this advice.
Not everyone is savvy with setting up their Wi-Fi equipment, and I see where people allow their ISP to do it for them. But if you receive a change of equipment, the ISP’s installer may do a fast job of it. S/he’ll slap that new box into place, write down a generic/default network name and password and get out the door quick like a bunny. I understand why they do this. Many of these techs are contractors, paid by the job, not by the hour.
When technicians take these shortcuts, it causes disruption with all of your household Wi-Fi devices. For example, let’s say that everything in your house was set to connect to:
SSID ILoveMyWiFi, using the password funkybeans135
But the newly setup router is now emitting:
SSID Arris-L33T_5G, using the password of JohnDoe540
None of your household tech knows these new credentials! Now you have some serious homework to do! You’ll have to touch on every device in the house and enter in those new credentials. Reintroducing all of your tech to the new Wi-Fi can be a lot of work, if you have a printer, a thermostat, a tablet, a smartTV, a video game console, and on and on….
It’s much easier if you stick with the same old network name and Wi-Fi password. You can ask your installer or technician for this! If the new equipment is programmed with the same old SSID (ILoveMyWiFi or whatever your old network name was) and original password (funkybeans135), all of your devices will likely reconnect to your Wi-Fi automagically. The installer will quit the building and everything will be working just as it was before they came.
- Tell your installer that you want to reuse your SSID and Wi-Fi password at the beginning of the appointment, while the old equipment is still in place. Once they decommission the old router, it may become harder for them to determine your network name and password. Unless you have this written down ahead of time for them!
- Network names and passwords must be kept exactly the same. These things are case-sensitive and even one different character will cause problems. MuellerWireless is different than Mueller Wireless is different from muellerwireless. Devices that connected to one of those will not connect automagically to the others.
- It is possible to reuse your SSID and password when one piece of equipment replaces two. For example, let’s say you have a Comtrend DSL modem connected to a Netgear wireless router. Your ISP arrives and sets up a combo wireless modem that supplants both of your old boxes. You can ask the tech to program the new all-in-one box with NETGEAR35 and its password zestynoodle123. It doesn’t matter that the modem is a different brand; it can still broadcast a Netgear-style name.
- It is possible that this tactic won’t work for you, if your existing router is extremely old. A 10-year-old Linksys router may be using an older type of Wi-Fi security (WEP) that doesn’t translate well to the new equipment’s security (WPA2). But most routers made in the last five years should work well with SSID and password reuse.
Tech jargon is confusing enough as it is. But then some geniuses had to go and name two completely different technologies the same thing. Not helpful….
I’m referring to the label “5G”, which can be used regarding your home Wi-Fi or with cellphones. I continue to find that people conflate the two technologies when they have absolutely nothing to do with each other! So I’m going to try and clear this up:
5G Stands for Fifth Generation
When talking about telecommunications, 5G refers to the latest technology that makes your cellphones work. Right now, the fifth generation (5G) of technology is being rolled out in our country. The fourth generation (4G) is the existing cellular communications technology used in much of the country, and 3G & 2G technology is on its way out. The old 3rd gen and 2nd gen antennae and other hardware is being decommissioned and dismantled to make way for the new hotness that is 5G.
5G Stands for 5 Gigahertz (GHz)
By now, most households have Wi-Fi to spread your internet connection around to laptops, tablets and smartphones. And many of you may notice that your Wi-Fi router offers two network names, one that may end in “-5G”. This is merely to distinguish the two bands of frequency emanating from your device. Those two bands are 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz, the latter can be referred to as the “5G band.” If you want to read more on Wi-Fi frequency bands, this site has you covered.
A lot of people ask me for help with their Wi-Fi signal. They want better coverage in their homes, and they are often ready to go out for something expensive to fix it. But before I recommend buying a pricey Google Wi-Fi set or a Netgear Orbi WiFi system, there are a bunch of free & low-cost things to try:
- Look at your Wi-Fi router and position it differently. It needs to have some space and air around it. If it’s on the floor, put it up on a table. If it’s shut up in a bureau, get it out or on top of the furniture. Is it stacked between books and computer equipment? Declutter a bit and give your Wi-Fi device some elbow room. And, if possible, move your modem and router to a more central part of your house (talk to your ISP or me, if you’re unsure of how to do this).
- Does your Wi-Fi router have external antennae? If so, try pointing them in different directions. A slight change in their position can change the Wi-Fi spread for your whole house. If it doesn’t have antennae for you to pose, move and rotate the router a bit. I’ve resolved some Wi-Fi problems just by turning a router 45°.
- Update your router’s firmware. This can be done through your router’s app (on your smartphone), from the downloads page of the router manufacturer’s website, or by logging into the router itself. If that’s above your paygrade, I’ll certainly take care of it for you during any service call you hire me for!
- Consider how many years you’ve owned your Wi-Fi router, as it could be getting wonky due to old age. If it’s over 5 years of age, or if you have to reboot it often, it could be time to replace it. And then, your new router may supply more Wi-Fi spread than you realized was possible! If you are renting your router from your ISP, call them and ask about a swap for a new unit.
- Walk around your home with a laptop and run a speedtest in each room. If you can deduce that the Wi-Fi is sub-par in just one zone, then maybe all you need is a single Wi-Fi range extender. Such a device is designed to pick up and repeat your Wi-Fi signal, and is less expensive than buying a whole house mesh network system. These are easy to set up and won’t change anything about your existing Wi-Fi.
After all of that, if you do still need Wi-Fi improvements, it may be time to invest in a mesh Wi-Fi system. I recommend the above-linked items, and you might also check in with your ISP, to see what Wi-Fi equipment they recommend or offer.