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WiFi, Plaster Walls, and Zoom Calls

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stessier
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WiFi, Plaster Walls, and Zoom Calls

Post by stessier »

My sister lives 1100 miles away and I'm trying to help troubleshoot a new laptop she got. She decided to get a new laptop because her old one would disconnect from the WiFi 10+ times per day and was not reliable enough to use for Zoom meetings. The new one, while disconnecting less, still did so. When it didn't, the Zoom visuals would freeze even though the audio was clear and uninterrupted. She claims her phone has no trouble staying connected to the WiFi. She lives in an apartment and shares the internet with the landlord. The router is located on the first floor in the hallway leading up to her apartment. She doesn't pay for the connection (the landlord shares it freely with her) and doesn't know what speeds she is supposed to be getting.

I started off by testing the signal strength in a couple different rooms. In her preferred Zoom setting, she had 50% signal while in the kitchen (just above the router) she was at 100%. Her download speeds were 15Mbps in the Zoom room and 30Mbps. I suggested she get a WiFi extender to boost the signal in all the rooms, which she did.

She tested it on her own and is now getting download speeds of 100Mbps near the extender, but it drops off sharply in the different rooms and Zoom still freezes the image in her preferred spot. She can get a choppy image if she starts next to the extender and then moves to her preferred spot. She also shared today that she has plaster walls.

So, is there something I can do to verify it is the walls that are causing her issues? Is there some setting in Zoom I should be checking around the video freezing? Even 15Mbps without the extender seems like it should be enough for a video call. Suggestions?
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Jaymon
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Re: WiFi, Plaster Walls, and Zoom Calls

Post by Jaymon »

some things than can improve video performance

in the settings, Video, can turn off HD, Mirror my video, Touch up my appearance
under backgrounds and filters, disable virtual background

also, under video in advanced settings, can try turning off
optimize video quality with de-noise
and disable the 'use hardware acceleration for'
video processing
sending video
receiving video



another thing to try, if she has a wifi extender in her apartment, maybe try plugging into it via network cable


also I have heard, but not confirmed, the zoom web version is more fault tolerant and drop resistant than the app version.
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gilraen
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Re: WiFi, Plaster Walls, and Zoom Calls

Post by gilraen »

Plaster walls will absolutely interfere with wi-fi signal, since they have a metal mesh inside. But since the speeds are fine near the extender, and Zoom video is still choppy, that doesn't necessarily add up.

Is it possible that the router is set to throttle bandwidth either for certain type of traffic (i.e. video) or ports commonly used by video conferencing apps?
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Blackhawk
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Re: WiFi, Plaster Walls, and Zoom Calls

Post by Blackhawk »

I've spent the last month working my wifi over and figuring out how to improve it.

Also relevant:

Is she on a 2.4GHz or 5GHz connection? 5GHz is faster, but has less range and is more susceptible to physical interference, although less susceptible to interference with other wifi signals. 2.4GHz is plenty fast enough for everything but 4k and gaming, and carries further, but is more subject to interference from other signals (everybody and everything is broadcasting at 2.4GHz.)

Next, if you're not using it and she has Android, grab a free Android app called Wifi Analyzer and bring up the channel graph. See if her wifi has a bunch of other local wifi connections on the same channel. If so, it should be fairly simple to change to a less crowded channel.

Also make sure you check positioning. Make sure that whatever she's connecting to is up high and not next to anything that is likely to interfere (including wireless speakers, USB 3 ports, and microwaves.)

If all else fails, look into powerline internet. I don't know much about it, but I know it has solved similar problems for others.
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Re: WiFi, Plaster Walls, and Zoom Calls

Post by Smoove_B »

Blackhawk wrote: Wed Sep 01, 2021 12:59 pm If all else fails, look into powerline internet. I don't know much about it, but I know it has solved similar problems for others.
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Re: WiFi, Plaster Walls, and Zoom Calls

Post by Rumpy »

Blackhawk wrote: Wed Sep 01, 2021 12:59 pm
Also relevant:

Is she on a 2.4GHz or 5GHz connection? 5GHz is faster, but has less range and is more susceptible to physical interference, although less susceptible to interference with other wifi signals. 2.4GHz is plenty fast enough for everything but 4k and gaming, and carries further, but is more subject to interference from other signals (everybody and everything is broadcasting at 2.4GHz.)

Was going to point this out as well. I did an experiment with my PS4 awhile back. I have a router that has a 5G connection, so I connected my PS4 to the 5G to see if it would help with downloads and such. After a few months, I'd forgotten I had done that, and curiously enough, I noticed that it would frequently lose the signal on bootup telling me it was not connected. It hadn't occured to me the 5G could be the source of the problem, until I read an article claiming the same thing happening on PS5s. So then I switched it back to what it had been before, problem solved.
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stessier
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Re: WiFi, Plaster Walls, and Zoom Calls

Post by stessier »

Thanks for all the suggestions - I'll try them out this weekend.
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Re: WiFi, Plaster Walls, and Zoom Calls

Post by Unagi »

Totally recommend the : tp-link 'Gigabit Powerline Starter Kit'. Absolutely a gem solution to our 2nd floor not being in range for our wifi.



I bought ours at Staples (or Office Max, or something or other)
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Re: WiFi, Plaster Walls, and Zoom Calls

Post by hitbyambulance »

not a fan of powerline network adapters. they emit so much spurious RF…
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Victoria Raverna
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Re: WiFi, Plaster Walls, and Zoom Calls

Post by Victoria Raverna »

I also had a bad experience with powerline network adapter but maybe a bug on a specific model from TP-LINK. I used powerline network adapters to connect my PC to the router which is near my TV. Seem like powersaving mode of the adapters cause my PC to lose connection to the router which take over a minute to recover. I ended up setting a script at the router to ping my PC continuously to prevent powersaving.

Since the distance between my PC and the router is only a few meters but across the room, I replaced the powerline with UTP cable through the ceiling to connect directly.
Last edited by Victoria Raverna on Fri Sep 03, 2021 12:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: WiFi, Plaster Walls, and Zoom Calls

Post by gilraen »

I loved my powerline adapter, but I used it on a Roku, not a PC. It was a while back, and it was a cheapo brand (Diamond, I think), but I used it for about 4 years without any issues.
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Re: WiFi, Plaster Walls, and Zoom Calls

Post by hentzau »

Extenders can also be really hit and miss. They’re nowhere near as reliable as a mesh network. I live in a 100 year old Chicago bungalow and extenders would never stay connected, drop devices constantly, etc.

Went to a Google Home mesh network several years ago and it’s rock solid.
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Re: WiFi, Plaster Walls, and Zoom Calls

Post by Isgrimnur »

Sounds like Chicago needs to become Third City. Anybody nearby have a cow?
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Re: WiFi, Plaster Walls, and Zoom Calls

Post by Kasey Chang »

I have a set of those, the pretty cheap ones I got from Best Buy back in the days. I tested the throughput... My Wifi-AC adapter trounced it. So I ended up disconnecting it. :-/
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