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Improving Wireless Signal

If you are having issues with your wireless signal there are several things you can do to try and improve the signal. Depending on circumstance, you may not be able to try everything suggested.

Router Location

For the best broadband speed possible for your phone line, your router should be connected to the master telephone socket, which is normally the first entry point into the property. This is not always the most ideal location for your router, however, it is the place the broadband speed is fastest.

To have a strong wireless network, the best location for the router is usually in the centre of the property, with as few objects as possible in the way of the router and where you'll be using the internet. For instance, solid brick or exterior walls can often block or significantly reduce wireless signal strength.

Try and experiment and find the best compromise between router location and the strength of the wireless signal.

Interference

Wireless routers work by broadcasting high frequency radio waves. Therefore, like a radio, interference can be easily picked up. So anything that broadcasts or receives radio waves could potentially interfere with the wireless signal, e.g. microwave ovens, cordless phones and bluetooth devices can all affect signal strength or quality.

You may notice correlation between certain devices being used at certain times of day and a drop in wireless signal strength.

Wireless Channel

WiFi interference can be caused by any device broadcasting a radio signal, other wireless networks can also cause interference with each other, depending on the channel the wireless signal is being broadcast on.

In the UK there are usually 13 channels, each on a slightly different frequency. Most modern routers will actually automatically select the channel that is most suitable.

However, if you would like to select a channel yourself there are applications, such as inSSIDer and WiFi Stumbler, that will detect all wireless networks in your area, the signal strength and which channel they are being broadcast on. This allows you to identify the least busy or a free channel to broadcast your network on. The most common channels are 1, 6 and 13.

Signal Extenders and Powerline Adapters

If you don't mind purchasing extra equipment to improve your wireless network coverage or strength, there are many different products available to do just that.

Firstly, signal extenders or boosters work by either connecting directly to the router and using a larger broadcasting antenna to increase the coverage or by using a relay device some distance away from the router, but within in range of a clear wifi signal. For example, if your router was on the ground floor and you couldn't get a signal on the second floor, a relay on the first floor would detect the signal from the router and then broadcast the signal further, potentially doubling the area covered. More than one relay can be used to fully optimise your wireless signal.

Powerline adapters are another option for getting the network coverage where you most want it. They come in pairs, the first of which is situated by the router so it can be connected to the existing network. The second is then placed in a room where you would like broadcast a wireless network or have an ethernet port for a wired connection. The existing copper wire in the power lines within the property carry the data between adapters.

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