It doesn’t get much more frustrating than upgrading to a high-speed internet package and then experiencing sluggish performance when you connect your smartphone. It doesn’t mean the speed isn’t there and available for you. It may be your devices are not capable of supporting the speed you subscribed to and they are only giving you the best they can. If you run a speed test on each device, you might notice each device’s “best” might vary.

Wi-Fi

Think about Wi-Fi as speaking a language. Your router speaks this language to your connected devices. There are five different Wi-Fi languages with a sixth on the way. Wi-Fi 1-3 are the slowest of the Wi-Fi languages and are only found in older devices. Wi-Fi 4 and 5 are capable of much faster speeds and are found in new devices.

Whatever device you have connected, your Reliance Connects provided router is backwards compatible —basically meaning it can speak any Wi-Fi language. The problem comes when only one device can speak at a time.

Imagine a circle. At the center of that circle is your router. Surrounding it are all your connected devices. Just like most people, the router can’t understand all the devices at one. So, a talking stick is used. Each device can only communicate with the router when it holds the talking stick. Each device can only hold the talking stick for a specific amount of time before it has to pass it on and each device has to have a turn as long as it sits in the circle.

When all the connected devices are speaking the same language, it works great! Especially if that language is Wi-Fi 5. All of this is happening in milliseconds and when devices are speaking Wi-Fi 5, that talking stick gets passed around so fast, you don’t notice any lags. However, things begin to slow down when you have one or more devices in the circle that speak a different language than the rest. Because the router communicates with only one device at a time, it now has to take the time to switch the language it’s speaking to communicate with that device and then take time to switch back. This alone can eat up to 30% of your subscribed speed. This is because the talking stick is moving so fast around the circle, the router is constantly having to take a moment to switch languages.

Connected Devices

A connected device’s age, type, and software it’s running all factor into what speeds it can support. The chart below will give you a general idea of what speed each device is capable of, based on the type of device and language it speaks.