Wi-Fi doesn’t need holes in walls. But most Wi-Fi routers are still connected to the Internet through a wired connection to an ISP. This connection does.
Connecting to your ISP
The cable that your ISP uses to reach your home is a lot longer than cables inside your home. Even when it’s the same sort of cable, it uses different protocols that work better over long distances.
Installing Wi-Fi requires installing hardware that translates these protocols to home networking protocols: an optical network terminal (ONT) for fiber-optic networks, or a cable modem for cable Internet.
This hardware is usually installed close to where the cable to the ISP reaches your home, near an outside wall. This makes it easier for the ISP to fix when it breaks.
Connecting to your Wi-Fi router
But an exterior wall is a bad place for a Wi-Fi router. A computer on the other side of your home will be twice as far away as it would be if the Wi-Fi router was in the center of your home.
Wi-Fi is made of radio waves, so the inverse square law applies. Getting twice as far away means you have one fourth the signal strength.
Wi-Fi tries to make up for this by spending longer talking to far away devices, which leaves it less time to talk to every other device on your network. This is a common way to run into Wi-Fi performance problems, even when you think your Wi-Fi router should be good enough.
Putting the Wi-Fi router near the center of your home, and running an Ethernet cable between it and your ISP hardware, resolves this. It’s often the most impactful Wi-Fi upgrade you can make.
And you might save some money if you stop renting your ISP’s router, too.