Anything designed by humans has a limit to it and that is most accurate when it comes to technology. Computers and other devices that have come out decades ago and even the ones coming out now have their limits to what they can do and wireless routers are no exception to this rule. If you look at networks, whether they are wired or wireless they can provide connectivity to finite number of devices and there is a very good reason to that which we will get into in this publication.
You can look at a practical example in your home that if you connect multiple smart phones and couple of tablets to your wireless router, you will not be able to stream movies or shows on your smart TV or the quality will be compromised of the vide, this is because of the load sharing among other connected devices and they are all downloading and uploading data simultaneously. So what can be done to solve this problem?
Multiple Access Points
If you look at small scale local networks you will notice that they have mostly a single access point which is the broadband router itself and if you observe the networks in large offices or buildings you will notice that they have multiple access points which are there for a very good reason. Large buildings or offices use multiple access points to upscale there whole network and cover a larger physical area which in return allows them to provide connectivity to every device in the office with a single Internet Connection.
Even though every access point has it’s own limit to what it can handle, you cannot expect to add a single access point and that’s it, it will cover the whole building. No, a single access point, depending on the device you use will have limited capability and will be able to cater to finite number of devices.
Theoretical Limit of Wi-Fi Networks
Theoretically speaking individual routers and access points can support devices in the range of 200 to 250 depending on the hardware you are using. But when it comes to wired connection to the devices routers can only accommodate a very small number in that respect about 2 to 4. This number may increase or decrease it depends on the ports available on your router for wired connection.
Now when you get a wireless router you will notice the speed rating listed in their specifications that is the theoretical number that you will work with when it comes to speeds delivered to each device of your network.
To give you an idea we will put forward an example, a router rated at 400Mb/s having 100 devices connected to it will provide each device with speeds of 4Mb/s, theoretically.
Now if you do have 100 devices connected to your network it’s a rare shot that every device will be active on it. This allows for the router to divide the unused bandwidth among other devices.
Practical Limits of Wi-Fi Network
Connecting 100 devices to a single access point is theoretically possible but practically it not a very good idea and below are few factors that will explain why.
- Even though you can connect over a 100 devices to a single access point but all those devices using the Internet or Local Network Communication simultaneously will just cripple the whole network and slow it down to a miserable speed. If you connect a dozen devices using data transmission simultaneously the router takes a toll with just those number of devices
- If you connect that many devices with a single access point, practically the access point device will probably heat up and shut down or will just cease to function all together
- Even you do manage do get that many devices connected and running somehow on a single access point then you will have to deal with so many wireless signals in such close proximity. Now these radio waves will just interfere with each other and the whole network performance will be affected
- Some routers have a very useful option in the admin panel allowing owner to limit the number of users that can be connected on that access point. If you keep the number low enough according to your Internet Connection bandwidth and the router you are using you will be fine
Maximizing Network’s Potential
The first step to maximizing your network’s potential is adding more access points to allow for more devices to be connected to your network. This will not only increase the number of devices that can be connected to your network but will also increase the physical range of your wireless network but managing a large network will be a task that will be difficult to handle.
The second step is only to be taken when you have added more access points but the overall speed of the network is less than what you require. The second step is that you upgrade your Internet Subscription with your ISP. For example if you upgrade your subscription to 2Gb/s and you have 100 devices on your network then theoretically each of the connected device on your network will get minimum of 20Mb/s speed.
We hope you find this publication useful. Be sure to check out our reviewed best wireless routers this year.