Do you have dodgy Wi-Fi in your house? If you're living in a large apartment or multi-level house, chances are that you could do with a Wi-Fi range extender or at least some smarter router placement. Telstra can help you out with that — alongside the announcement of its fledgling nationwide Wi-Fi network, it has a new app that maps your house's Wi-Fi network range.
The Telstra Wi-Fi Maximiser app for Android is pretty simple. You can either run a quick test just to see what coverage you have in any given area, ranging from Poor to OK to Great, or map your Wi-Fi signal around your entire house. Running a quick test just gives you a 10-segment bar and a pure signal strength read-out in RSSI (dBm).
The mapping feature takes a little more effort, but is far more rewarding for anyone wanting to get an accurate picture of how their Wi-Fi router performs. First, you'll have to draw a floorplan of your house or apartment — you can either quickly scrawl one with pen and paper, or import a drawing from your phone's touchscreen, or even a scanned architectural blueprint. After that, you tap the location of your router, then wander around your house tapping the screen in corresponding locations to take measurements. After that, the Telstra app builds you a heatmap of Wi-Fi coverage.
In the Gizmodo/Lifehacker office, there's no problem with the Wi-Fi coverage even from a little Vodafone 4G hotspot. In a larger house, you'll see colours range from green to red when coverage eventually drops out. If Wi-Fi does genuinely drop out while you're testing, you don't lose the whole map — you just get a big red blackspot on your heatmap.
It's no coincidence that Telstra stores already sell a range of Wi-Fi extenders and Wi-Fi gateways, as well as a Telstra Platinum in-home installation service. The app points you to these as the easiest way to fix your bad wireless — and it's true, buying a Wi-Fi extender probably will fix any problem that you're having.
Even if you don't want to use these, the app still works impressively well for checking your Wi-Fi coverage and finding any weak spots in your network. This is the easiest way to check whether poor Wi-Fi is the reason for your TV stuttering while streaming downloaded videos or YouTube, for example. It's just a nice little app with no annoying fine print — thanks, Telstra.