Home WiFi Basics Info

What is WiFi?

Nearly every device that connects to the Internet today does so using WiFi. Everything from tablets to refrigerators to TVs are WiFi-enabled.

WiFi stands for “wireless fidelity”-- the technology that allows a device such as a WiFi router to turn a corded Internet connection into a wireless signal. Without this router, every device in your home or office would need a cord to connect to the Internet.

WiFi doesn’t replace your 3 Rivers Internet connection--it simply makes it usable for non-hardwired devices within range to connect to it.

There are some issues that can affect a WiFi router’s performance. Wireless signals from a router are susceptible to interference from everyday household appliances like microwaves or cordless phones or even other WiFi routers. However, newer WiFi routers do a better job at overcoming interference than earlier models once did.

Depending on the amount and type of devices you typically have connected in your home or office, 3 Rivers recommends a dual band (2.4 GHz/5 GHz) 802.11ac router, the current standard (see chart). A router not capable of delivering sufficient throughput may be a bottleneck for your entire network. However a less powerful router may be fine for your situation.

WiFi Facts

WiFi is a technology that allows computers, smartphones, tablets, TVs and other Internet-enabled devices to connect to the Internet and communicate with each other wirelessly.

WiFi uses radio frequencies (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz) similar to cordless phones. Much like those phones, WiFi has limited range. This means the further you are from the WiFi router, the slower the speed will be. High-end routers use antenna technology to get around this limitation.

The number of devices you have connected to a WiFi router also makes a difference. WiFi has limited radio frequency spectrum (bandwidth). Because of this, too many devices trying to use it at once can cause a “traffic jam,” leading to slower speeds.

WiFi encompasses several different standards that vary in their speed and range.

802.11ac is the current standard and offers the fastest throughput speeds (maximum speed depends on the Internet service level you purchase from 3 Rivers) and furthest range. It operates in the 5 GHz radio band. This table shows other standards with typical speed and range limits.

How does WiFi work?

Your 3 Rivers Internet connection travels via a fiber optic or copper connection from the nearest central office to your home or business. The connection terminates at your location either through a switch (copper connection) or an ONT (fiber connection). ONT stands for Optic Network Terminal.

A WiFi router connects to the modem (copper) or ONT (fiber), transforming the Internet signal into a radio signal that is transmitted wirelessly to allow computers, tablets, smartphones or other devices to connect to the Internet. For optimum performance, the router should be as close to the center of your house or building as possible, on the main floor.

Without a WiFi router, devices would need a hardwired connection to the modem or ONT in order to access the Internet.


Here are a couple of simple troubleshooting steps if you are experiencing connectivity or speed issues on your mobile devices:

Power-cycle your WiFi router, or

Plug your laptop directly into the hardwire Internet source that feeds your WiFi router to determine whether the issue is with your router or with your Internet service.