We’re used to seeing tech questions, but there’s been one consistent one this week: what is this thing called “WiFi Assist”, and does it have the potential to ruin me?
Setting up a wireless network can create all sorts of headaches, but the one that generally lingers is wireless reception.
You might not want to admit it, but somewhere in your home is a spot that cannot, will not, and refuses to get decent reception. This problem forces you to do the unthinkable: live without wireless reception when you’re there in that spot.
Fortunately, mobile phones have a solution, and it’s called “WiFi Assist” (or “Wi-Fi Assist” if you spell it correctly).
This isn’t a terribly new technology, though many readers are just now seeing it for the first time as the concept has appeared on the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, but before it rocked up on the iPhone, you might have seen it on various Android devices, popping up as an option as early as the Samsung Galaxy S5.
As for what WiFi assist does, it’s quite simple: whenever your wireless network feels like it’s failing because of low reception or poor speeds, WiFi assist kicks in by switching to a mobile signal for higher download speeds alongside your ho-hum WiFi connection.
That means whenever WiFi feels like it’s not working, WiFi assist brings those speeds back up, and it does so by latching onto the 4G mobile network and pulling in data using the high-speed mobile technology in your phone.
In use, this can come with the downside of sucking up your mobile data, and if you don’t have a lot of data to work with, it can be a problem.
The solution to this is to turn WiFi assist off or, alternatively, get more bandwidth for your mobile plan.
A more long term solution, however, is to take another look at your wireless network and possibly at repeaters, wireless network extenders, or change the wireless router you’re using to something more up to date, pushing out the wireless network so that it is stronger and more stable across your entire home.
If that’s too much hassle, however, just switch WiFi assist off. It’s probably easier that way.