So, I talked about what might slow down your internet speeds even before the connection got to your home, now I'll talk about performance issues in your home. More specifically, lets talk about router problems and slow internet connection speeds. How can you tell if it's your wireless connection causing you to have slow downloads, well one way to find out is to simply try out a wired connection and see if there is any difference in speeds. Speedtest.net is a great place to check your download speed if your browser can view the page as the site will provide you with raw numbers to compare. Or you can try downloading a short demo and note the amount of time it took to download the item both wired, then wireless if you aren't able to view webpages on your console. There will usually be a difference between a wired and wireless connection, but it should be within roughly 2Mb/s if running well.
So, let's say you see a huge difference in performance between going wired and wireless with your connections. What could be causing it, and what can you do about it? Lets use these numbers as an example. Wired download 12Mb/s, upload .950Mb/s, wireless download .600Mb/s, upload .800Mb/s. That's a huge difference, and not uncommon numbers to see when people are having problems with their router. So, lets go on and start with the easiest way of trying to fix the problem.
Probable cause #1
Your firmware for your router might not be updated. Not much to say about why this could be a problem. Newer updates usually mean better compatibility, enhanced performance, etc.
Update your firmware if possible. Doing so could answer your problems and could drastically improve your connection speed performance.
Probable cause #2
The distance between your router and console. This is usually one of the most common reasons for poor performance. First things first. The speed at which your wireless signal is traveling through the air IS the speed of light. That is going to remain constant and is not the reason for any lag you may be having. What is probably causing the problem is the amount of stuff that the signal has to pass through, such as walls, floors, and other electronic devices that might be interfering with the signal and your router/console having to add the extra time to compensate for the additional processing needed. That is where the lag comes in.
Lets break these down and list the possible fixes individually.
A) When talking about distance between your router and console, if possible, try to shorten the distance between them. While that is always not an option, if you are able to do so, it might help out your performance, but usually only when you are able to move it into a closer room. If you moved a router to a different spot in the same room, unless you cleared a few walls, or other obstructions, that probably isn't going to make much of a difference.
B) If your router has them, making slight adjustments to the antennas may also help. This is especially true if you have your router and console on different floors of a home or office. Waves do travel in certain paths off of different antennas, so making slight adjustments can help to "focus" a wave to your components a bit better.
C) Along with the antennas, try to make sure your console and router are roughly at the same level as one another. This along with antenna positioning helps to get the signal to your console more efficiently.
The easiest way to see if any of these changes could have worked is by checking the signal strength now being registered by your console, indicated by either a numerical value or amount of bars being shown, etc. I'll use the PS3 as an example here. Write down the signal strength being read by your PS3 under your connection settings and compare it again after you have made the above changes. It's important to know that SIGNAL STRENGTH AND SPEED ARE TWO VERY DIFFERENT THINGS. Sorry about the caps, but that is a very commonly made mistake by many people. The signal strength is just a measurement of the signal power being read. That's it. It has nothing to do with speed. Once you are connected to the signal, it doesn't matter if you are at 100%, or 40%, you are simply connected to the signal. If the signal is coming in very low, say 20% or lower, then that is where the extra computing/processing times come in as mentioned above and you get dropped from your connection. If the signal strength is coming in at a higher number after the changes have been made, that means you've probably cleared a few obstacles and now have less stuff the signal has to go through, or interfere with which is a good thing. So again, speed vs power are two different things. Imagine two identical parked cars with their lights on pointing in your direction. They are both the same distance away from you, say 25ft. Now imagine it being a pretty foggy day. With the lights right next to each other, they would appear to have the same amount of brightness. Now, imagine one care is moved another 25ft back so it's 50ft away. You would still see the light, but it would appear dimmer because of all the extra fog the light had to move through. It's the same amount of light coming from the closer vehicle, but appears dimmer. The same thing kinda goes with signal vs speed. I mention that because someone will alway say I have faster speeds at 100% strength than I do 40%. While they probably do, it's not an accurate statement as there is more to it than just the incoming signal strength....anyways, enough of that....
D) Changing the default settings on your router can help out. When you buy your router, it's set to some very generic settings as the maker of the product has no idea what you'll be hooking up your router to, where you'll be hooking it up, what the signal will have to pass through or what other electronic devices you may have that could interupt your signal. In order to get the best out of it, you'll have to make some changes that help to get the most out of your router for your particular home. To do that, you'll have to look up on how to access your routers admin page. For example, my router is made by Linksys and to access my router admin page I have to type in 192.168.1.1 into my address bar. Then I have to enter my password and voila, I'm into the control settings for my router. To find out how to get into your admin page, you can do a quick Google search and get all the info you need. Once you are in, there are a few adjustments you can make to help you improve your wireless connection. Note, you'll want to write down the default settings to these items so you can change them back if you need to. While there isn't really much you can do here to "break" anything, please call your routers maker or tech support line if you don't feel comfortable messing around with these settings. Ok, so the settings we are looking for are:
1) MTU Size. It's probably set at about 1500 by default, but changing it to 1300 might help you out. Without getting to techy, it's the size of data that is being exchanged by your console/router.
2) Wireless Channel. Most routers come with at least 10 different channels to broadcast in. Try going through them and see if you get improved performance with any one of them. By changing them, you are increasing/decreasing the range on your router, and possible choosing a signal that interferes less with any cordless phones, microwaves, or other general electronics devices in your home.
3) I'd call up your tech support for your router before making changes here, but making adjustments to the Fragmentation Threshold and // RTS Threshold can really help to make a difference as well. Again, get the recommended numbers from your routers company or do a bit of research online.
4) Ports, ports, ports. Again, using the PS3 as an example, opening the correct ports can also help with game performance. You can find the port numbers for your console of choice on their website support forums. Sony's are TCP 80, 443, 5223, and 10070-10080, UDP 3478, 3479, 3658, 10070 and Microsofts are TCP 80, 3074, 53, UDP 88, 3074, 53.
Those values would be entered into your port range forward settings and help out your performance when going/playing online with your consoles.
Well, that's really about it as far as routers go. Update your firmware, close the distance when possible, remove or adjust to any obstacles blocking the path to your console and router, tinker a bit with the settings, and open up the ports. I would highly discourage anyone from opening a DMZ for your gaming console. Anytime you have personal info such as credit cards, etc between you and another server, I'd stay away from using one. If none of these tips helped, then contact your ISP or router maker and talk to their tech support. The calls are usually free and they are the experts on the matter. Hope that helped or taught you something new. If not, you could always just buy a 100 meter (about 300ft) ethernet cable and wire up your console =D.