Industry Expertise: Understanding WiFi Signal Strength

WiFi Stength

Many WiFi users experience poor connectivity and slow speeds. In one room it doesn’t work at all. In another, speeds may be too slow. To achieve a good connection, the WiFi signal must overcome barriers and obstacles - some of which won’t be eliminated by simply purchasing a new wireless router. Understanding how external obstacles can affect your WiFi signal may help you better diagnose problems with your wireless network.

Diminishing Signal Strength

A strong signal is often a good indicator that the WiFi connection will be fast and reliable instead of slow and intermittent. Think about it in the same way as hearing other people talk — in a quiet, open area, you can hear someone’s voice fairly well. On the other hand, in a building with thick walls, listening becomes more difficult as walls block the sound. The same is true for indoor WiFi. As distance from the router increases, the wireless signal strength decreases, and different types of obstructions will further reduce signal strength.

The images show what WiFi signal strength would look like with the router located in different areas of a house. In the first image, the router is located to one side of the building. The signal is excellent near the router, but as it spreads through walls and into the rooms at the other end of the house, the signal gets weaker. The red colors represent a signal strength too low for good WiFi connectivity. In the second image, the router has been moved to a more central location. The wireless signal travels through fewer walls to get to all areas of the house and is much stronger in most rooms. Use the following guidelines to gauge how different materials in your home affect the signal strength of WiFi (measured in decibels, or dB). Note that a 3dB drop in the material is equivalent to a 50% reduction in signal!

  • Dry Wall: 3dB
  • Hollow Wood Door: 4 dB
  • Brick Walls: 6dB
  • Concrete: 8dB
  • Refrigerator: 19dB

Think your WiFi signal could be weak? Follow our 5 Steps to Better WiFi Guide to enhance your wireless network!

Related article: What's the Difference Between Internet and WiFi?

Read More

Tips in Tech: 5 Steps to Better WiFi

When it comes to wireless Internet, you know your WiFi works if you never have to think about it. Unfortunately, you may not be so lucky, especially when you’re plagued with poor connectivity, slow speeds and dropped connections.

As your local WiFi experts, we've seen it all — router antennas wrapped in aluminum foil, modems connected to over-priced bandwidth "de-throttling" repeaters, and even multiple routers connected to the same modem — all in an attempt to get better WiFi. However, most WiFi problems we see are identified and easily resolved by following our 5 Steps to Better WiFi.

1. Quality Equipment

Is your router out of date? One potential cause of your wireless connectivity problems is an old router. WiFi technology has improved a lot recently, so if your router is a few years old, it won’t work nearly as well as a new one. That means you are not getting the most out of the new wireless devices you’ve invested in, which are designed to work best when they’re using the latest WiFi technology.

It also means you’re not getting your money’s worth from your Internet service, because your old router is preventing you from getting the speed and performance you’re paying for. For example, newer WiFi technology uses stronger wireless signals and allows multiple users to connect at the same time.

If you think that your router might be out of date, contact us about our equipment lease program.

All routers are NOT created equal. Just as with anything else, you get what you pay for in a router. A cheaper router may not be able to support as many devices as you have. It may not be suitable for the size of your home or the speed and amount of activity on your Internet connection. Or, it may not support the wireless technology your devices require. If you have any questions about your current router or a router you’re looking to purchase, you can call NATCO’s Internet Support Team for advice and recommendations for router technology.

2. Router placement

Move your router to a new location. If your router itself is not the problem, its location might be. The first thing to try when you’re having connectivity problems is moving your router to one or more different locations in your home to see where you get the strongest signal. For you to enjoy the best possible online experience, your router needs to be able to send out a strong signal to your wireless device, wherever you are in your home. In general, the signal gets weaker the farther you are from your router. It’s important to install the router in a central location so the signal radiates evenly throughout the house. If possible, you should place the WiFi router on a table or a shelf. The ideal position is half-way between the floor and the ceiling.

Metal surfaces can also weaken your WiFi signal, so placing your router in a kitchen or laundry room (where there might be a lot of metal appliances) is not a good idea.

3. Eliminate Interference

The physical features of your house may also be contributing to the problem. For example, certain materials used in your interior walls can reduce the strength of your signal. Most common construction materials, such as wood or drywall, won’t cause a problem, but if your router is located near walls made from concrete or brick, these materials can block some — or all — of your WiFi signal.

One of the most obstructive materials for a WiFi signal is a mirror. If you have a sizeable mirror near your router, it may negatively impact wireless performance.

If your router is in a room with any of these characteristics, try moving it to a different room in your house to see if your wireless performance improves.

Be aware of other devices causing interference. Certain non-WiFi devices — like baby monitors, Bluetooth devices, microwave ovens, dimming light switches, and cordless phones — may share the same frequency as your router. As a result, when these devices are in use, you may notice your WiFi performance getting worse. Try moving your router out of the path of these devices.

4. Know Your Network

Check for interference from other WiFi devices. One source of interference is other wireless routers located nearby. If you live in an apartment building or condo, there’s a good chance that one or more of your neighbors has a router that operates on the same frequency as yours. In this case, the signal coming from your neighbor’s router may be interfering with the signal from yours, and that may be contributing to the connection and performance problems you are experiencing.

If you think that interference from nearby routers is affecting your WiFi network, contact NATCO for technical support. We can help you reconfigure your router to limit the impact of nearby devices and help you get your WiFi performing the way it should be.

Check for outdated or lower-quality client devices. While your router is an important part of the WiFi network, the wireless devices that you use to connect to the Internet also impact the quality of your WiFi experience. As with the router, older devices are going to have outdated hardware, resulting in slower connection speeds. Often, cheaper devices like the tablets and laptops on sale during Black Friday have cheaper wireless hardware and can’t connect at the speeds your router is emitting.

5. Consider a Whole-Home WiFi Solution

When these actions don’t result in any noticeable improvement, it may be time to consider a different type of WiFi solution.

Mesh WiFi combines a router with a series of small wireless devices— called satellites—which you place in different rooms in your home. These satellites communicate with the router and provide you with a strong wireless signal everywhere in your home, creating the ultimate Whole-Home WiFi solution.

With Whole-Home WiFi, you don’t have to sign into a separate network just to use it because your wireless password is applied automatically when you are within range of the WiFi satellite. Once you’re connected to your upgraded wireless network, you can roam freely and securely in your home with any of your devices and not have to worry about losing your connection or dealing with poor performance.

If you’re ready to enjoy the superior online experience and other benefits that come with Whole-Home WiFi, contact our Customer Care Department. We’ll help you get everything you need to upgrade your current wireless network to a Whole-Home WiFi system, and provide you the local support you need so you can enjoy worry-free WiFi that just works.

Related article: What's the Difference Between Internet and WiFi?

Read More

2019-2020 Ozarks Regional Directory is Here!

2019-2020 ORD

We’re so excited to announce that the 2019-2020 Ozarks Regional Directory is here! The ORD is the region’s only locally-owned telephone directory.

We know what you’re thinking – people still use a telephone book in the reign of Google? Yes! In fact, we have over 3,600 businesses listed in this year’s yellow pages. The telephone book is still an extremely valuable resource for small, rural businesses to get discovered in our community.

The Ozarks Regional Directory is your source for local businesses and services. If you don’t receive one in the mail in the next few weeks, you can pick one up at the following locations:

Bull Shoals Lead Hill Mountain Home
Arvest Bank Arvest Bank Arvest Bank (2 locations)
Gaston’s Visitor Center City Hall Chamber of Commerce
Flippin Omaha Diamond City
Arvest Bank City Hall City Hall
Ozark Realty
Anstaff Bank Yellville Harrison
NATCO Arvest Bank Chamber of Commerce


Still have last year’s directory? We’ll take it off your hands! Bring your old directories, even if it’s not one of ours, to our main office in Flippin! We'll recycle it for you.

Read More

Connect with a Cold Brew

Article contributed by Kayla Stafford, NATCO's Creative Designer.

I’m not necessarily obsessed with coffee, but I can definitely appreciate a good cup when I have one….And I like to have one at least once a day.

I jumped aboard the cold brew coffee “craze” a few years ago. For a long time, I thought that iced coffee and cold brew were the same thing, and I was pleasantly surprised to find out I was way wrong.

Iced coffee is hot coffee that has been cooled with ice and milk. Cold brew, perhaps unsurprisingly, is coffee that’s brewed cold. The brewing process takes much longer than that of a typical hot-brewed coffee, but the slower process brings out more flavor from the beans without bringing out the acidity like you get with a typical coffee maker. I was instantly sold on giving it a chance.

Online instructions to make cold brew seemed too easy – so easy I was afraid I’d mess it up. I quickly learned how hard it is to go wrong! Since then, I’ve been making cold brew at home for a few years, and it’s become a family favorite. I’m told to bring it to every family breakfast, birthday party, and baby or wedding shower.

In the approaching fall season, I’m hoping to give you an alternative to the PSL* with my cold brew recipe. A couple of notes before we start, though:

  • You will need course-ground coffee to make cold brew with this method. Most pre-ground coffees are a medium-grind. A courser grind gives you a better, less acidic flavor and makes the filtering process easier.
  • Cold brew makes a highly concentrated coffee, almost like an extract. Make sure to mix water to taste after brewing as the initial batch will be very strong and highly caffeinated.

*Pumpkin Spice Latte, a popular fall coffee drink

Cold Brew Recipe:

Makes approximately 7-9 cups

  • 1 Cup Course-Ground Coffee (I grind my own, but you can order pre-ground on Amazon)
  • 4 Cups Water
  • 3-4 Cups of Water for post-brew
  • Milk, Half-and-Half, or Flavored Creamer to taste
  • Sugar to taste
  • Large Glass Jar with Lid
  • Coffee filter, coffee pot, or other straining method

Step 1: Grind your beans into a course grind (you can skip this step if you're using pre-ground beans).

Step 2: Put 1 cup coffee grounds into a glass jar. Add 4 cups of tepid water to the grounds and mix until the water is slightly foamy.

Step 3: Seal the jar and place in refrigerator for 24 hours.

Step 4: Strain the cold brew grounds. I simply pour the brew through a fresh filter in my coffee maker and catch the brew in the maker’s coffee pot. I pour in small amounts at a time to avoid overflowing the filter.

Step 5: Add water to the cold brew to taste. I usually add 3 cups of water to my brew.

Step 6: Add milk, creamer, and sugar to taste. I usually add 1 cup of milk and 2-3 tablespoons of sugar to my brew (I like my coffee strong, tan, and sweet!).

Step 7: Enjoy! Diluted and without milk or sugar, your cold brew will be good in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Diluted brew should be good for up to one week (depending on the expiration date of added dairy or dairy alternatives).

Thanks to everyone who stopped by our office on Friday, September 27th to celebrate National Coffee Day for a free cup of cold brew and a conversation about WiFi! We loved being able to chat with you about the Internet of Things.

Didn't get a chance to join us? Keep an eye out on our Facebook page for our next Coffee Day event!

Read More

Annual Creative Arts Contest

2018 Creative Arts Contest

It’s time for the annual Creative Arts Contest sponsored by NATCO Communications, Inc. We have been proud to sponsor the contest for South Shore area schools since 1999, and we’re honored to exhibit some of the region’s best young artists and creators.

All students in grades K-8th enrolled at schools in the South Shore area — Flippin, Yellville, Lead Hill, Bergman, Omaha, and Bruno-Pyatt — are invited to participate in the annual art contest. This year’s theme is Kindness In Our Community, and the prompts encourage students to think about how their actions inspire kindness in others and benefit the community.

2018 Creative Arts Contest

We are distributing contest materials to the schools this week! We encourage teachers to allow students to complete their submissions in class. If your student attends one of the South Shore area schools and is participating in the contest, be sure to ask about their entry. We hope they are as excited as we are to get started!

2018 Creative Arts Contest

The Creative Arts Contest is one of our favorite events of the year. We love seeing the walls of our building covered in color, and our team enjoys admiring the talents of the youngest members of our community. The entire event peaks with the annual Creative Arts Contest Awards Ceremony where we honor the winners of the competition with their parents. Check out last year’s winners here.

We can’t wait to celebrate your students and their work!


Read More

Looking Back on an Awesome Summer

Every year, we spend July celebrating our customers and community with a month-long giveaway. It’s one of the highlights of our year! This year, we had over 2,000 entries from our Facebook, Instagram, and in-office entries. That’s a record!

We changed things up this year by giving away weekly prizes – a JBL Flip 4 Speaker, an Amazon 4K FireTV Stick, a Yeti Hopper Cooler, and a Coolerz Inflatable Island. The weekly prizes and entries all led up to our grand prize drawing for a Traeger Pro Series 575 Pellet Grill with WiFIRE Technology! We LOVED this grill and wanted to celebrate summer and celebrate YOU for your support throughout the years.

Our weekly prize winners:

  • Richard Karratti - JBL Flip 4 Speaker
  • Cher Lynn Monson - Amazon 4k FireTV Stick
  • Laura Crisp - Yeti Hopper Cooler
  • Tanya Simmons - CoolerZ Inflatable Island

The grand prize winner of the Traeger Grill was Samantha Ramsey! Congratulations to all of our winners, and we hope you’re already enjoying your prizes!

Two of our Installation & Repair Technicians also won gift cards for helping us collect entries while they were in the field with our customers. Thanks Jared Cantrell and Trey Rogers, and all our team members at NATCO, for your help making the Great American Giveaway a success!

We hope you had as much fun as we did in July with the Great American Giveaway. We’re already planning next year’s giveaway. Let us know what kind of prizes you’d like to see next year over on our Facebook page.

Read More

Looking for a career?

We’re always looking for individuals with a passion for outstanding customer service, an interest in technology, and a heart for the community!

Apply Today!

Where will we be this fall?

We will be out and about enjoying the fall festivities in the South Shore region! Stop by our booth at one of these events to chat with us about our services, our upcoming fiber builds, and all things WiFi.

  • September 27th: FREE Coffee at NATCO!
  • October 5th: Flippin Fling at Flippin Hickey Park
  • October 19th: Hillbilly Chili Cook-off at
    Bull Shoals—White River State Park