Most major airports in the U.S. have free wi-fi. That’s important to remember because cell phone and 4G reception at airports is often very poor. At San Francisco airport, if you connect to #SFO FREE WIFI, you get unlimited free wi-fi with no strings attached. At Oakland airport, you get 45 minutes of free wi-fi, but you have to watch a 30 second commercial first. You can get an additional 45 minutes of free wi-fi if you watch another commercial. I remember the first time I used the free wi-fi at Oakland airport. It was about 4 years ago. I had to watch a commercial for a movie titled ‘Non-Stop’ in order to log onto the airport’s free wi-fi. I remember that commercial because it seemed so inappropriate. ‘Non-Stop’ is a movie about a terrorist and an alcoholic air marshal who shoot it out on an airplane while the plane is in flight. I seem to recall that there was also a suitcase full of cocaine on the airplane and a plot to kill the passengers one at a time. I thought that was a very poor choice for a commercial that people had to watch at an airport while waiting for their flights to take off. I remember thinking: “Didn’t the thought occur to somebody that this is a really bad movie to be advertising at an airport?”


Tenants often complain to me that their wifi is too slow or that some parts of their homes are dead zones where they can’t get a wifi signal at all. If you are frustrated by slow progress bars on your computer, before trying a solution that costs money, like buying a signal booster, try these simple solutions first.

1. Make sure your router stays cool. Heat can significantly slow down a router and shorten its life, and all routers produce heat. Don’t place a router near a heater or in a place where direct sunlight falls on it or where it is boxed in, preventing the heat produced by the router from dissipating.

2. Place your router in a central location in your home and high up in the room, above obstructions. Height is an advantage.

3. Don’t place your router next to appliances that emits electrical waves or signals, like microwave ovens or remote controlled TVs. Any electrical device that has a remote controller emits radio signals that can screw up your router’s signal to your computer.

4. Think about the physical barriers in your home that might block a signal. For example, don’t place your router on one side of a fireplace chimney or metal door when  your computer is on the opposite side. Router signals can’t go through brick walls or metal doors.

5. Turn your router off regularly and then restart it. Some router software gets slow over time, and a restart can get the bugs out. Just unplug your router, wait 30 seconds, and plug it back in.

6. Update your router’s firmware. All router manufacturers update their software periodically.

7. If none of the things above solve your problem, consider a new router, especially if your router is more than 3 years old or your router’s WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network) standard is 802.11b or 802.11g. They are the oldest and slowest versions and have a maximum speed of 54 Mbps (megabits per second.) Consider replacing your router with a new one with a minimum speed of 1 Gbps (gigabits per second). They sell them at Amazon and Best Buy in Emeryville.