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Need Solutions for More Wireless Range in Apartment


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#1 mastavic

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Posted 17 June 2011 - 06:49 AM

Hello, I hope you are doing well.

Simply put, I need more wireless range in some parts of my apartment.

My ISP is Comcast, and I have their 20-25Mbps cable service. I am connected through a Motorola SURFboard SB5101 cable modem. Currently, I am using a Airlink AR430W Super G Wireless Router. Everyone in the apartment uses Windows computers.

Unfortunately, half of my apartment barely gets any of the wireless signal, and therefore, has very, very slow connection. Part of the reason is that there are walls between the wireless router and the computers. I would like to state that the connection is very fast when I'm close to the wireless router.

What is the best and cheapest solution so that everyone can get a decent connection and speed? Is there anything I can do at the moment to help boost the signal? I do have another wireless router (it's a Verizon VZ7501ROUT 802.11g Wireless Router), but do not think there's any way to make use of two routers with just one modem.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
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#2 sjvirchow

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Posted 17 June 2011 - 02:12 PM

You can use a wireless range extender, such as this one. It will take your existing WiFi signal, and rebroadcast it throughout your apartment. It only needs to be connected to your computer once, for configuration which isn't too difficult. After that, you can have it anywhere in the house, but you'd probably want it where the signal starts to degrade.

You can use two routers together with one modem. (I use two Cisco E2000's) This is what I do in my house. I have one set up with third party firmware, and that router acts as a repeater, mainly for doing work outside on the patio, or in the backyard. It is a more expensive solution, but I like doing DIY projects, and this was one of my Saturday projects. Posted Image

Edited by sjvirchow, 17 June 2011 - 02:15 PM.

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#3 ph7ryan

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Posted 17 June 2011 - 08:00 PM

yes, you will need either a signal repeater that sits somewhere where it gets reception, and then acts like the router itself and rebroadcasts the signal, OR

If there is a third party software for your router, most support variable gain for the antenna signal, so you can boost it higher than stock... just don't go too high and burn out the unit!

#4 sjvirchow

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Posted 17 June 2011 - 08:39 PM

That router does support third party firmware, but I don't think that it would benefit you much in this situation, plus, unless you really know what you're doing, flashing your router with third party firmware can brick your router, rendering it completely useless.

I'd say adding a wireless range extender is your best bet.

Did you used to have Verizon's DSL or FiOS service at one time? I'm not sure if that Verizon router can be used with just Verizon's broadband service. I'll do some research, and edit this post when I find the information. If it's not tied to Verizon's broadband service, you could try using that as the router and see if your signal strength improves.

I'll get back to this post once I find out more.



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#5 mastavic

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Posted 18 June 2011 - 02:21 PM

Thanks for the replies!

After a lot of Google searches, I finally found an article that seem useful: Using an old router as a DIY wireless Access Point

I followed the instructions there, and after a couple hours, I finally got it to work. My old Verizon router is now an access point so that half of my apartment can pick up a wireless signal from it. The only issue right now is that I can't find a way to get the cable to run from my main router to the old router without making the apartment look like it's really cabled (I'm running it directly through the hallway).

If anyone does have better solutions, please let me know! For now, I'll be sticking with this. Thanks again!

#6 Orecomm

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Posted 18 June 2011 - 07:21 PM

One other option is to use an 802.11n wireless router/access point with at least 2X2 MIMO. The 802.11n protocol gets through and around obstacles significantly better than 802.11g, even if there is an 802.11g unit on the other end. You need one that has dual antennas to get the spacial diversity advantage, though. They may be internal or external antennas, but the box should clearly state 2X2 (or 2X3, or some other combo up to 4x4). The NxN notation is the number of transmit and receive chains, essentially complete radios, inside the unit. Most of the cheap 802.11n units are single chain and won't help much if at all. Better units may have internal antennas with electronic steering - it figures out where your laptop is and directs a beam of RF energy toward it instead of spreading it around evenly.

Another option for using your current setup without the wires is to use a broadband over powerline modem pair to get between rooms. I've used several of these with clients that had difficult situations. You can even add additional units for other "outlets" if needed - like at the TV/Entertainment area which is getting to be a popular spot to get an Ethernet but often intentionally located far from the "computer room" for noise control purposes. I like the Netgear AV 200 series but have used several versions successfully. It's not really 200Mbps (maybe in a lab under perfect conditions, but not the real world. Remember "56Kbps" Modems ? Same deal.) but fast enough for most purposes, even connecting the game console. Figure $100 for a pair of units unless you do some shopping around, but I've picked up a pair of decent units before for $35 for the pair on sale.

They also make a "flat" Cat5 cable for running under rugs. I've never used it, and have nightmares about carnivorous vacuum cleaners and the effects of high heels among other things, but somebody thought it was a good idea and would probably work OK if you keep it routed along the walls.

Good Luck !




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