Thursday, August 17, 2006

Expanding your Network

If you have a wireless network at home and your house is a standard contemporary 3-4 bed detached or semi-detached building then you should receive a good wireless signal throughout the house, and probably in the garden as well. However, if your house is of earlier construction with solid brick or stone walls, instead of stud partitions, or if your house extends over three floors, or is larger than average, then you may have some cold spots in your house where the Wi-Fi signal doesn't reach.

If so, there are a few things you can try to improve the range of your network. First off, consider the location of your wireless router. In many cases the router is located on the ground floor near to where the phone is. If you have a three story house (or your attic converted) and are having difficulty receiving a wireless signal on the top floor, then consider relocating the router to the first floor - equidistant between the ground floor and the top floor. Remember that the signal coming from your wireless router can be considered to be spherical, so try to locate all your house inside that sphere by locating the router in a central location within the house.

Try to locate your router away from solid brick or stone interior walls as these will absorb much of the signal and reduce the network's range. Also, move the router away from metal objects such as filing cabinets or PC cases. We recently had a customer who was getting a very poor signal in a bedroom across the hall from the study where the wireless router was. We found the router sitting on top of the PC system case - simply moving it to the desk above the PC provided a dramatic improvement to the reception in the bedroom.

Try a different type of wireless adapter. Not all wireless adapters are equal. We have found that the USB types are not always as good as PCI types with separate aerials. While it's difficult to give hard and fast recommendations on this, changing your adapter may help matters.

Install a range extender, such as the Linksys WRE54G shown in the picture. This is what Linksys says about it:

"Unlike adding a traditional access point to your network to expand wireless coverage, the Wireless-G Range Expander does not need to be connected to the network by a data cable. Just put it within range of your main access point or wireless router, and it "bounces" the signals out to remote wireless devices.

This "relay station" or "repeater" approach saves wiring costs and helps to build wireless infrastructure by driving signals into even those distant, reflective corners and hard-to-reach areas where wireless coverage is spotty and cabling is impractical. The Range Expander is perfect to help cover large areas in multi-story homes, warehouse environments, public spaces, and wireless "Hot Spots" -- anywhere you need extra coverage for your wireless network. "

PC Medic has been using one for the past couple of months and it does exactly what it says on the tin. A little messy to set up, but once set up it provides a nice boost to your wireless network.

No comments: