Improving my Wi-Fi coverage

BrunoNoMedals

LE
Kit Reviewer
#1
Since I relocated my PC to make room for a nursery, my wireless connectivity has gone to rats. I only have one phone-line into the house so I don't have much leeway in terms of moving the router to a suitable location, and I'm pretty-well stuck with where the PC has ended up - in the conservatory.

Line of sight between router and PC is currently around 5-6m (not far), but has the TV and various associated devices, one brick wall and two radiators in the way. Using a channel scanner app on my phone I've established that signal strength drops as follows:

Stood by the router, clear LOS: -40dBm
Across the room (4-5m), clear LOS: -50dBm
Other side of the wall (5-6m) but above the radiators (only double glazing in the way): -60dBm
Down at receiver level, blocked LOS: -70dBM

The channel seems pretty clear; it's running on channel 9 and there are maybe four other wi-fi signals in the area (only pushing -80dBm max, usually they don't register) on channels 6, 7 and 11. I'm tempted to go with something in the 1-4 or 12-14 region if it's worth it. I also have a wireless thermostat and cordless phone docking station right by the router, but neither of those devices can go anywhere else in the house and I'm not sure which channels they operate on.

The router was given to me by Orange, who are my ISP by proxy (through a BT land-line). It's a Siemens Gigaset SE572. The receiver is a Belkin Wireless-G internal PCI device.

Part of me thinks the router is just pants, as the drop-off in signal across a 4m clear gap seems a bit steep. I've looked at getting a new one but would a) like some clarification that this is necessary and b) some advice on what to buy (or where from). £50 is as much as I'm prepared to spend and these are on my shortlist:

Netgear WNR1000 N150 Rangemax Wireless Router DSL Cable- microdirect.co.uk

Linksys By Cisco Wireless-N Home BT ADSL2+ Modem Router (WAG120N-UK) - dabs.com

NetGear DGN1000 Wireless-N 150 Modem Router ADSL (DGN1000-100UKS) - dabs.com

If I bought new I'd go for a -N device to future-proof it a bit, and if it worked I'd probably swap out the receiver from -G to -N to get the benefits. However I'm also considering new aerials, range extenders and signal repeaters if they do the job with no particular complications and work out better value.

So, fellow ARRSErs, what do you recommend? If a £50 router likely to solve my problems or is the LOS my main concern? If it's LOS, would a repeater, extender, or new aerial in a better position cure things? If I'm buying something new, what products would you look at?

As ever I appreciate your advice!

Bruno
 
#2
Have you considered buying an extension kit from Asda for about 5 Quid. You can smartly tack in a wire round the walls from your phone socket and have a gleaming connection for peanuts. leaving you with £45 to go down the boozer with. Or £40 if you have to buy a hammer aswell
 
#6
#7
I also have a wireless thermostat and cordless phone docking station right by the router, but neither of those devices can go anywhere else in the house and I'm not sure which channels they operate on.

Download inSSIDer from metageek.net Download inSSIDer and Discover the Wi-Fi Networks Around You | MetaGeek Will tell you what channels are being broadcast.


Since I relocated my PC to make room for a nursery,
Just a thought, you haven't got a baby monitor in there as well have you?
 

BrunoNoMedals

LE
Kit Reviewer
#9
Cheers chaps. Extra cables (either phone line or Cat5) are not something I want to run with as I want the flexibility to be able to shift things around and, when I do change house (hopefully no more than another year or two) I still get the benefits of the better solution.

I'd looked briefly at the powerline adaptors but wasn't convinced of their usefulness. Do they keep up consistent data rates that are better than wi-fi?
 
#10
You know too much already and any more information will cause your head to explode. (oh and check your cordless phone channels too).
 
#12
Cheers chaps. Extra cables (either phone line or Cat5) are not something I want to run with as I want the flexibility to be able to shift things around and, when I do change house (hopefully no more than another year or two) I still get the benefits of the better solution.

I'd looked briefly at the powerline adaptors but wasn't convinced of their usefulness. Do they keep up consistent data rates that are better than wi-fi?
I use them instead of the WiFi crap. consistent around the house. Perfect for me as i aint using a lappy.
 
#13
Powerlines are absolutely great - once you pair them up, you can plug the 2nd in anywhere and get data rates as if connected to the router by patch cable. A really useful way of passing network connectivity anywhere you have power. Some get a bit flaky in plugged into an extension block (others not) - any doubt though, plug it straight into the wall socket.

edited to add - do a scan first though for channels already broadcasted on. Channels 1,6 and 11 are the 'main' ones - a scan will show if any other bits of kit are already using one or other. A neighbours broadcasts can interfere with yours.
 
#15
Some get a bit flaky in plugged into an extension block (others not) - any doubt though, plug it straight into the wall socket.
Straight extensions don't make any difference, it's the ones with surge protection that can filter out the signal you are trying to broadcast around your house. As you say, just plug it into another socket.

I bought this and it's the mutts.
Devolo 1409 dLAN 200 AV Wireless-N Starter Kit: Amazon.co.uk: Computers & Accessories

Bruno - A bit more than you were looking at spending but I bought it for similar reasons, I'm moving soon and just unplug and go. I have the transmitter upstairs where my router is and the reciever downstairs. It gives me 3 ports to plug in my (internet) TV, Tivo and a spare. It also broadcasts another wireless network so acting like a repeater for downstairs.
 
#16
I use Sky and had a real problem with their router - it was slow and was intermittent anything over 10ft away. I forked out about a year ago for a Netgear Rangemax Dual Band router. The speed more than doubled and I can now get a good signal all over my (big) house and in the garden. Was £99 at Argos then but I am sure they have a newer model out now.
 
#17
How about maybe selling the child to Angelina Jolie or Madonna and investing the proceeds into turning the nursery back into a fully kitted out 'den' with more tech than the Gadget Show on speed?
 
#18
Don't sell the child. Maybe you could rent it out to the McCann's so you can play
takken.jpg
 
#19
Have you considered buying an extension kit from Asda for about 5 Quid. You can smartly tack in a wire round the walls from your phone socket and have a gleaming connection for peanuts. leaving you with £45 to go down the boozer with. Or £40 if you have to buy a hammer aswell
I'm with Jerrycan - Although any "man" who doesn't already possess a hammer is clearly a raving hermer and wouldn't be going to the boozer for a drink.
 
#20
First of all - why are you sitting on channel 9? There is a very good reason why channels 1, 6 & 11 are used and its not because 'they are the main ones', its because they are the three non overlapping channels in the 2.4 Ghz spectrum. What does this mean - it means that you will receive interference from the other channels either side of 9 which will impact on your own signal.

Check out: IEEE 802.11 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia and scroll down to Channels and international compatibility.

Channel 9 will receive interference from both channels 6 & 11 if these are being used by anybody close.

What you need to do is perforn a wireless scan of your local vicinity and carry out an audit - i suggest using Kismet for this job. Have a quick google for 'wireless channel deployment' for some pointers on best practice. There are other factors to consider but - far too many for a quick morning post but get your ass off channel 9 for a starter.
 
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