What’s Got a Strangle Hold on Your WiFi?

Just about everyone has experienced interference on their WiFi. Drop outs are becoming more and more frequent simply because the 2.4GHz frequency band is so congested.

A recent article in PC Pro explored this phenomenon using some rather nifty visual aids.

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The above image shows an analysis of all the radio frequency activity in the vicinity of the PC Pro office. This is wireless signals and other devices using the 2.4GHz band.

The article then went on to analyse this:

Look closely and you’ll see that, on channel 8, there’s a non-Wi-Fi source of interference, represented as three bright stripes in the bottom “waterfall” window: I’ve not tracked down the culprit yet. To the right, the broad red/green stripe flanked by two narrower vertical green lines shows you the devastation a cheap wireless video sender can wreak.

While this might seem a rather extreme example, I’m sure that many living in densely populated urban centres will be surrounded by a similar level of congestion and interference. Just imagine how many baby monitors, cordless phones and wireless routers there are in a modern, central London block of flats, and you’ll get the idea.

So, what’s the answer?

Well, the article suggest  that, when next upgrading your wireless router, you go for a dual-band model that gives you the option of connecting to the less congested 5GHz frequency band.

As the image below shows (an analysis of the 5GHz band in the same location), the difference between the 2 bands is quite staggering:

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Author: MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

Getting to Grips with Your WiFi–How’s Your Signal?

forumIn our last post on Getting to Grips with Your WiFi, we looked at how to undertake a network survey to ensure you get the best possible signal.

But what happens if, after carrying out a full survey, you still can’t find the ideal location for your router to receive uninterrupted wireless coverage?

Well, there are a few other options available to you.

1. Upgrade your router

This is an option if you have signal everywhere, but just a bit lower in certain spots. The added range of an 802.11N router may be what you’re looking for.

2. Upgrade your router and adapters

If you’re looking for a better range with added speed, your best bet would be to upgrade both your router and adapters.

3. Repeaters and extenders

Placed half way between the router and your receiving computer, these units pick up the wireless signal from the router and retransmits it to the rest of the house. However, it’s worth remembering that they can also cut your network speed in half.

4. Extended range antennas

The theory behind these its that the antennas focus the transmission into a more direct pattern, therefore improving the strength of the wireless signal where you need it.

5. Powerline networking

Available in both wireless and wired versions, these adapters send network signals through your home’s electrical wiring to rooms that are out of range. Consisting of two plug-in units, one connects to your current router and wall socket, while the other plugs into the wall socket of another room.

6. Phoneline networking

This works in a similar way to the powerline, but through your existing phone lines in your home.

7. Second or third access point

You could also try adding a second or third Access Point (Wireless Router set to AP mode) to your network.

All of these options can be used in isolation or in combination with each other, giving you a vast range of options to find which on works best for you.

Your exact needs will depend on the layout of your home, so if you’re unsure which way to go, contact your local IT specialist who will be able to advise you accordingly.

Author: MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

Sorting Your Wireless Connection Problems

screamOn the face of it, wireless technology should make your life easier. The number of leads trailing around your home are reduced and you can print from anywhere you like (within range). But what happens when you can’t get a connection?

When you can’t connect your wireless device to your personal computer in your home network, or connect to the internet, finding the source of the problem can be a real headache.

Before you know it, you’ve spend hours pulling your hair out, staring at screens and screaming at the instructions.

So, to prevent you from ageing prematurely, here are is a guide to help you identify your wireless connection problem.

Before we begin, you’ll need:

  • A computer running Windows XP or higher
  • Wireless router or wireless modem/router

Most problems arise when you’re setting up your wireless network so give some thought to where you’ll place your router. If you experience problems, they could be down to a weak wireless signal, intermittent signal or total disconnection.

So should you have a problem, the following guide should help you solve it. 

Step 1

Make sure your Operating System is up to date. If you use Windows XP, download SP2 (service pack 2) or higher before going wireless. This is because it will provide better support and troubleshooting tools for your wireless network.

Step 2

Be careful when buying your wireless router. Make sure it has plugs for Ethernet or network cables. This is your only backup should a wireless problem occur but your network is OK. Should this happen, you can use the wired connection to make sure your computer can connect to the network.

Step 3

This is the usual IT favourite – if a wireless connection problem occurs, turn off your wireless router and then turn it on again.

If your computer has a wireless care, built-in wireless adapter or a USB wireless adapter, re-boot the machine. This will reset all the settings back to normal.

Step 4

To be wireless, your device uses a radio signal (usually 2.4 GHz). The problem is that many household items (such as cordless phones, baby monitors, radio controlled cars etc.) use the same frequency and could interfere with your router’s signal. Therefore you may have to move your router around until you find a suitable location for it away from these devices.

Step 5

The radio waves from your router can be strong enough to reach every part of your house and even outside it. Through your wireless device you should be able to use a tool which lets you view all the wireless networks available by name. With a potential range of 300 feet, you easily pick up a neighbours signal.

Therefore it is essential you protect your wireless connection with a password so any you can access it.

If your computer does manages to pick up your neighbour’s network and tries to use it, use the same tool mentioned above to select your network from the available list.

Step 6

The radio waves emitted by your  router travel in all directions so your computers can be on different floors from your router. But you must ensure there is no metal near the router so the signal can travel unimpeded.

If you think your signal isn’t strong enough to reach your computer, but you don’t want to move it, buy a wireless repeater to go between your computer and the router. This will amplify the signal helping your computer pick up the radio waves.

Step 7

If you’ve tried everything and you still can’t connect to your wireless connection…

  • Click your Start button
  • Right click on ‘My Computer’
  • Select ‘Manage’ and in the Computer Management window, select ‘Device Manager’

If the green network adapter icon is missing, the driver for your wireless card or adapter needs to be installed. If it has a red ‘X’ or yellow triangle and exclamation mark, the driver needs to be removed and reinstalled.

Over to you

With a bit of luck, one of those tips will get you connected.

Of course, if all else fails you can always call your local IT support company who will be able to point you in the right direction.