You Are Most Likely Not Maximizing Your Wi-Fi Speed: Here’s How to Fix

This post explains why your Wi-Fi connection may be slow and how you can easily fix it.

In the midst of steadily increasing Internet speeds, we’ve been very reliant on the ubiquitous Wi-Fi to be able to browse our multitude of apps on our phones and to watch movies on our Smart TVs. But knowing this, are we really maximizing the ISP connection we have?

As an example, it is now common to see our ISPs offering 100Mbps and above connection speeds. But if we check with a speed test website using our phones, there is a big possibility we’re not hitting even close to that limit on our phones. And this is what I’m referring to when I say we are not maximizing our speed — we are also not maximizing what we are paying for.

Here is a personal example. Our fiber connection is actually 300Mbps which I easily hit when I use wired LAN. However, when I connect to our Wi-Fi, it only tops up to around 40-45Mbps. At that point, I was testing in front of the access point already.

Explaining Wi-Fi Specifications

Wi-Fi as we know it, revolves around the usage of radio frequencies. And two of the main frequency bands we use are the 2.4Ghz and the 5Ghz bands.

These are the main differences in using both:

  • 2.4GHz has a wider range and can go through walls easily, but has a slower speed
  • 5GHz has a smaller range, meaning it gets blocked by walls but it offers a higher speed

Generally speaking, lower frequencies can pass through more objects, but can only carry less bandwidth or data — this is why AM radio frequencies (535-1605 kHz) can reach really far places, but typically at the expense of sound quality.

The 2.4GHz frequencies are meant to be used at a range of 150 feet (~45 meters) indoors which is why a lot of radio technologies aside from Wi-Fi use this range. Examples are Bluetooth devices, cordless phones, Zigbee devices, wireless devices (keyboards and mice, microphones, speakers), and baby monitors.

Even microwave ovens operate at this frequency so old appliances with leaks in their shielding can interfere with these 2.4GHz devices. This has been studied and replicated scientifically.

The maximum speed limit of 2.4GHz Wi-Fi is theoretically 450Mbps, but realistically it can only reach about 30-40Mbps. So if your internet-rated speed is 100Mbps, you won’t be able to reach it using 2.4GHz.

The 5GHz band is generally uncluttered, so there is less interference, however, the range is hampered as a drawback. This is why mesh Wi-Fi systems are becoming more popular nowadays, as this allows Wi-Fi signals to be spread around the house without much hassle. Also, the handover of the connection from one access point to the other is seamless, without needing to change Wi-Fi networks.

The maximum speed limit of 5GHz Wi-Fi is theoretically 1300Mbps, but realistically you can reach around 500-600Mbps, but your mileage may vary as with your Wi-Fi coverage. Keep in mind that even a couple of walls can easily halve your speed.

Maximizing Your Wi-Fi Speed and Coverage

The simplest way to maximize your speed is to disable 2.4GHz Wi-Fi in your router. You should only enable 5GHz. There is an option to provide both, but I advise not to do so, as the Wi-Fi network tends to switch all devices to the lower 2.4GHz frequency if even one device connects using it.

As an alternative, you can enable two separate Wi-Fi networks in your access point or router — one for 2.4Ghz only and another for 5GHz. Most routers and access points allow this type of setup nowadays. You can choose the one with 5GHz as the default network on your personal device.

To maximize your coverage using 5GHz, you should transfer your router or access point to a high central location. As much as possible there should be as few walls as possible blocking the signal. Oftentimes this can mean running a LAN cable or mounting your access point somewhere.

You can utilize mesh networks to help you get ample coverage in your house and minimize dead spots. Mesh networks allow your devices to hand over or switch your connection from one access point to another without needing to experience signal cut-off.

Wi-Fi extenders are generally not advisable, as you need to set up each extender with a separate Wi-Fi network, and with the same name as the one you are extending — meaning at some point they will interfere with each other when switching between them, or your device needs to manually reconnect to the extension network when you lose the signal of the main one.

Setting up a 5GHz network using TP-Link Mesh APs

On a personal note, we inherited a TP-Link Deco E4 AP to use so I can show here how I set it up for 5GHz frequency only. I mounted the E4 at a relatively central location of the house. TP-Link Deco has its own app to set up the network.

Setting the TP-Link Deco E4 to AP Mode

This is important if you are already using a router to connect to your ISP. You should set your E4 to Access Point mode as you are extending your LAN via your Wi-Fi. Otherwise, you would be implementing a double NAT which would not be ideal as I find it also limits the speed.

Here are the steps in the Deco app:

  1. Log into your Deco app, and click More at the bottom.
  2. Click on Advanced > Operation Mode.
  3. Select Access Point under Operation Mode.

Setting TP-Link Deco to 5GHz Band Only

As explained above, we need to set it exclusively to 5GHz only so that all devices connecting would be using this band.

Here are the steps in the Deco app:

  1. Login into the Deco app. Click on the Wi-Fi settings button.
  2. Click on your Wi-Fi network, then click on Advanced.
  3. Under Band, select the 5 GHz Only option.

Notable Sites for Speed Testing

In testing connection speed, I personally use the Google Fiber Speed Test, then as an alternative. Sometimes I also use the Ookla Speed Test as confirmation.


I talked about how your typical 2.4GHz Wi-Fi frequency band limits the maximum speed of the connection. To hit this maximum when using Wi-Fi, you need to exclusively use 5GHz in our network.

I explained the specifications and limitations we have for each band, and how to set this up using TP-Link Deco.