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How to improve poor signal strength in UniFi networks

Published onby Dries (edited on by Iron)

Dealing with poor signal strength in a UniFi network is always frustrating. Especially, if you are handling large client networks.

It affects not just the speed but also the reliability and overall user experience. Luckily, there are several ways to diagnose and improve poor signal strength in UniFi deployments.

This blog outlines some actionable steps to improve your UniFi network's signal strength, better performance and user satisfaction.

Let's dive in!

Table of Contents

Conduct a site survey

Start by conducting a site survey to map out signal strength across the area. Tools like the UniFi Wi-Fi Man app or other site survey software can help you identify dead zones and areas with weak signal.

Understanding the physical layout and where signal strength issues occur is a good first step for troubleshooting and improvement.

Optimize AP Placement

The placement of UniFi Access Points (APs) is critical in providing adequate coverage throughout the desired area.

Ensure APs are strategically placed to avoid physical obstructions, such as walls or large metal objects, that can attenuate the signal. Sometimes, simply repositioning an AP can significantly improve coverage. Ideally, APs should be mounted on ceilings or high on walls to maximize coverage.

Adjust Transmit Power

Adjusting the transmit power of your UniFi APs can help improve signal strength. While increasing transmit power seems like an obvious solution, it's essential to find a balance.

Too much power can cause interference, especially in environments with many APs. Use the UniFi Controller to adjust power settings and monitor the impact on signal strength and network performance.

Utilize RF Environment Scans

The UniFi Controller offers an RF environment scan feature that allows you to see the Wi-Fi channels in use around you. Performing an RF scan helps identify crowded channels. Switching your AP to a less congested channel can reduce interference and improve signal quality.

Implement Band Steering

UniFi APs support band steering, encouraging dual-band capable devices to connect to the less congested 5 GHz band.

Since the 5 GHz band typically offers faster speeds and less interference, enabling band steering can enhance the overall network performance and signal strength for supported devices.

Upgrade Firmware and Hardware

Ensure that your UniFi APs are running the latest firmware, as updates often include performance improvements and bug fixes that can enhance signal strength.

Additionally, consider upgrading older APs to newer models designed to provide better coverage and support for advanced wireless standards like Wi-Fi 6.

Configure Minimum RSSI

Setting a minimum Received Signal Strength Indicator (RSSI) can help prevent devices from holding onto an AP with a weak signal too long. This setting encourages devices to switch to a closer AP with a stronger signal, improving the user's experience.

Add Additional APs

In some cases, the existing number of APs might not be sufficient to cover the area adequately. Adding more APs can help fill coverage gaps. Use the insights gained from your site survey to determine the optimal locations for additional APs.

Enable Mesh Networking

If running Ethernet cables to additional APs is not feasible, consider using UniFi's mesh networking capabilities. Mesh APs can extend coverage to hard-to-reach areas without the need for a wired backhaul, although this should be used judiciously to avoid potential performance bottlenecks.

Final Thoughts

Improving poor signal strength in UniFi networks requires a combination of strategic planning, hardware optimization, and careful configuration. By implementing the strategies above, you can ensure that your UniFi network delivers the strong, reliable signal that users expect, even in challenging environments.

At UniHosted, we understand the importance of maintaining reliable UniFi deployments and are happy to help you with this. Our cloud-hosted UniFi Controller services are designed to give MSPs and network administrators the tools they need to manage and optimize their networks efficiently.

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