With so much original content accessible from streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, you no longer need to worry that cutting the cable cord will leave your favorite shows behind. Think of it instead as weaning yourself off of that pricey cable bill and moving into the happier, more affordable world of Wi-Fi streaming. Here are the first steps toward setting yourself free.
Upgrade Your Router
Once you've made the decision to ditch your cable service, your home's Internet connection will become your entertainment lifeline. For the most reliable streaming, you may need to upgrade your Wi-Fi router (especially if it’s more than three years old). If there are multiple people streaming in your household, consider purchasing a MU-MIMO router. Older routers transmit data to your Wi-Fi devices one-by-one, causes buffering during the gaps in connection. But MU-MIMO routers send streams of bandwidth to multiple devices simultaneously so no one loses connection.
Check Your Internet Speed
Once you've ensured that your router can handle the increased data needs, check that you’re getting enough bandwidth from your Internet service provider (ISP). High quality videos demand it—Netflix recommends 5 Megabits per second for HD quality streaming and 25Mbps for Ultra HD. You may need to upgrade your subscription to get the Internet speeds you’ll need to stream all your favorite high-def and super-high-def titles.
Bridge the Gaps
If your Internet service is sufficient but your TV is in an endlessly buffering dead zone, a range extender may give you the boost you need. A range extender will repeat the Wi-Fi signal from your router, rebroadcasting it to areas where the Wi-Fi is weak or nonexistent. In addition to pushing the stronger connection to your living room TV, a range extender can also boost your Wi-Fi signal to the pool, garage, and other parts of your home where you wouldn't otherwise expect a cooperative Web connection. For best results, position the range extender about halfway between your router and the device you want to connect.
Wire It Up
A plethora of factors can affect the strength of your Wi-Fi signal—the distance from the router, for example, or interference from other electronic devices. If you find yourself with slow Internet speeds from your ISP, you might gain a faster connection by plugging directly into your router with an Ethernet cable instead of relying on Wi-Fi. And no, that doesn't necessarily mean rewiring your house or stringing unsightly Cat 6 cables across your living room. Try investing instead in a couple of powerline boxes, which plug into your home's electrical outlets and use your existing wiring to facilitate the network.