Extending Your Wi-Fi Network

How to Extend the Range of Your Wi-Fi

It’s frustrating when your Wi-Fi network doesn’t reach where you need it to, but there are ways to extend the range.

Wi-Fi is essential these days, and when the signal is low, the connection is slow, or just keeps dropping out, it can be very frustrating. Since wireless signals weaken over long range, black spots typically occur due to loss of signal as the user is too far from the wireless router, but thick brick or stone walls can also block signals, and other wireless devices can also interfere with the signal.

There are several ways to address this; some are merely positioning, and others require more of a budget. Here are a few ways to extend your Wi-Fi network range and coverage:

Reposition your router

It may sound too simple, but the position of your wireless router can be vital to the range of your network. Make sure it’s out in the open, towards the center of the area where you need coverage. Don’t stash it in a closet as wireless signals travel cleaner and further through open space.

And if your router has movable aerials, try adjusting them to different angles to provide the widest coverage.

Install a Powerline adapter

Powerline adapters can be a cheap option when extending a Wi-Fi network. However, they do not boost the existing wireless network signal; you’ll need a Wi-Fi extender for that. You can purchase Powerline kits with Wi-Fi, but they do cost more than extenders. They are good value for money though, since they are versatile and can provide faster network speed.

To setup a Powerline adapter system, you simply plug an adapter into a socket near your router, then connect it to the router using an Ethernet cable. Then, the second and subsequent adapter are plugged into power sockets elsewhere to extend the reach of the network, creating new Wi-Fi hot spots for those areas.

More about Powerline adapters.

Upgrade your router

If you’ve optimized the position of your router but the signal is still poor, you may need to upgrade it. If you have an older wireless router (b/g), you should consider replacing it with a newer device, or investing in a Mesh Wi-Fi kit (see below).

How do you tell if your router is using old standards? Well here’s a list, from oldest to newest

  • 802.11b
  • 802.11g,
  • 802.11n
  • 802.11ac
  • Wi-Fi 6

One important thing to remember is that your devices also need to support these newer standards, so do your research before you buy.

Select between 2.4GHz or 5GHz Wi-Fi frequencies

Wireless networks use either one of two frequency bands: 2.4GHz or 5GHz:

  • 5Ghz offers faster speeds, but has a shorter range – the higher the frequency, the shorter the wavelength. In addition, 5GHz signals cannot penetrate walls, ceilings, desks, and other objects as well as 2.4GHz signals do.
  • In contrast, 2.4GHzbroadcasts a signal over a greater distance, but at slower speeds.
  • Some routers combine the two frequencies together into one overall network service, which isn’t always convenient if you need to select a particular frequency.

2.4GHz devices can get easily compromised, however. Many domestic appliances also use 2.4Ghz, such as microwaves and Bluetooth devices, which can cause interference, and loss of signal strength or range.

More about Wi-Fi frequencies.

Invest in a Mesh Wi-Fi System

A mesh network is two or more routers integrated together, providing much broader coverage for your wireless network.

Mesh networks are typically easy to setup as kits are available. One of the routers plugs into a spare port on your existing router, and creates a new, extended network to which all your devices can connect.

The additional mesh device(s) are then deployed elsewhere in the coverage area, and all talk to each other, creating a complete wireless infrastructure.

Here are some of the top-rated mesh WiFi products on the market today.

Install a wireless booster

Also called repeaters or boosters – wireless boosters increase your signal by capturing the signal from your router and rebroadcasting it.

Boosters are cheap and easy to install. A Wi-Fi repeater can boost the signal from a router in a different area of the organization, and uses half its antennae to receive the wireless signal and the other half to transmit a new one. This has the effect of extending the range of your network, but doesn’t increase speed, in fact it can half the potential speed of the original signal.

The extender itself ideally needs to be placed in a central location, fairly close to the main router; the extender is merely boosting the signal. If it’s placed where Wi-Fi is already weak, all it will do rebroadcast that already-weak signal.

More about WiFi boosters.

To find out more about wireless solutions, contact TechPoint, who specialize in Ekahau Wireless Solutions and products.

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