The average wireless router typically sits quietly doing its job of routing traffic between the Internet and your private home network – and not much else. But it can do so much more, especially if you know how to tweak its settings. In this article, I'll show you how to make your router video-friendly by optimising it for High Definition wireless video streaming.
Getting optimal performance from your router doesn't mean just speeding up network throughput or making the wireless signal stronger. It means tweaking settings to prevent constant streaming video buffering and lag.
Many network users want to stream video from game consoles, NAS devices, or Blu-Ray players to other devices within a home network. For example, I have a home media server that stores video files. I want to stream these videos to wireless clients in my home like tablets or smartphones, and I want to get the best performance I can while streaming.
Performance, in this case, is fairly easy to maximise because the streaming from the source is happening locally, within the network, from the source to the client devices – provided you have the right equipment.
Invest in dual-band
The best way to optimise video is with a dual-band router and using the 5GHz band for streaming. The 5GHz band is less crowded and can provide faster speeds than the 2.4GHz band.
Create two SSIDs
The majority of dual-band routers on the market are simultaneous dual-band, meaning you can create a separate SSID for both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz band, essentially creating two networks. Connect the devices that stream video on the 5GHz network. In the following image, I have two SSID's created: 5GHz for streaming and 2.4GHz for devices which are only used for surfing the Internet.
Bear in mind that the devices that you stream from, such as game consoles or NASes, you will want to connect with an Ethernet cable to one of the LAN ports on a router if at all possible. You'll get a much faster speed than with a wireless connection.
Newer routers and devices support WMM (Wireless Multimedia). WMM is used to allow specific kinds of wireless traffic (like video) to be set to high priority – working very much like QoS but requiring less configuration. If you continue to have problems with video, try enabling WMM settings on your router and wireless clients.
Optimise your signal
Still not getting great throughput? Maybe it's the signal strength itself. Try these 10 tips for boosting your wireless router signal. Follow that guide and you'll get a stronger all-round signal on your wireless network.
For additional information on wireless networking, check out our guide to buying the best wireless router.