The advantages of a wireless network do come with some additional considerations that are absent in a wired network configuration.
One of the most important factors that need to be addressed when setting up a wireless network is the range of the WiFi signal. The ability of the signal to reach and adequately serve your users is the reason that a WiFi network was constructed in the first place. If the signal is weak or non-existent in portions of your intended coverage area your WiFi network needs to be tweaked. One of the primary ways to address this problem is to boost the WiFi signal.
There are several reasons that you might want or need to extend the WiFi range that you currently are achieving.
When faced with the need to extend the range of your WiFi network there are a number of options from which to choose. Some are simple and do not involve the purchase of any additional equipment. In other cases, you may need to make a financial investment to provide the WiFi range that your users require.
Here are some methods that may extend the WiFi range and coverage of your network without spending a dime.
Move your router – Simply finding a new location for your wireless router can have a dramatic impact on your WiFi signal for a variety of reasons. You should strive for a central location that is free from physical obstructions like walls and doors if possible. Don’t keep your router in a closet or a desk drawer if you hope to realize its true potential signals range.
Try to place it as high as possible, with a line of sight to all devices that will be connected to it. While this is not always totally feasible, getting as close as you can to this goal will help you extend the range of your WiFi router.
Analyze your WiFi network – When you use a WiFi analyzer such as NetSpot you can survey your own network as well as other networks whose signals may overlap with yours. It is a fact of life when dealing with wireless networks that their signals can cause issues with other, nearby WiFi installations. You may be able to determine that you are competing for the same channel with your neighbor’s router. Changing your router to make use of a different channel can extend your WiFi signal and improve performance throughout the network.
Update your router’s firmware – Keeping your device’s firmware current can help you obtain the best WiFi signal that the router can provide. Depending on the manufacturer there are different methods that need to be used to update your firmware. Some routers can be configured to automatically update the firmware. If your router is in that category, it is strongly recommended that you take advantage of the auto updates.
Switch router frequencies – Dual frequency routers offer you the choice of 5.0GHz and 2.4GHz bands. You might find that switching to the 5.0GHz band improves your WiFi range as it will incur less interference from other electronic devices since the frequency is used less often.
If you have exhausted the free methods of extending your WiFi range to no avail it might be time to consider purchasing some additional equipment in order to improve your WiFi coverage. There are a number of different ways you can do this. Here are three methods from which to choose.
Using another router – You can use a second router as a repeater to help reach WiFi dead spots in your coverage area. In some cases, you will need to connect the two devices with a cable, though some configurations can be accomplished wirelessly. Basically, you are using the second router to catch the WiFi signal and push it to previously unreachable parts of your home or office.
Using a WiFi extender – In a similar manner to a second router, a WiFi extender or booster also takes the original signal and repeats it to extend its reach. They come in a variety of styles including extenders that simply plug into a nearby electrical wall outlet and can solve the problems of an inadequate WiFi range.
Employing a mesh network – Large wireless networks may benefit from the installation of a mesh network to replace the traditional WiFi configuration currently in place. They are meant to provide coverage of areas of more than 1,000 square feet on either a single or multi-floor building. Mesh networks are easy to configure and offer resiliency by design as each base station is seen as a node.
Making use of a quality WiFi analyzer like NetSpot can help you tune your WiFi network and determine if the signal is strong enough for your intended coverage area. Let’s take a look at how to use this powerful tool both prior to installing your wireless network and using it to optimize it once it is in place.
You should conduct a site survey using the tool before you purchase any equipment for your WiFi network. The survey can alert you to potential problem areas in your projected coverage area and help you decide on the proper equipment to serve your needs. Plunging ahead with a WiFi implementation without a site survey sets you up for issues that impact your network.
You can also use NetSpot as a troubleshooting tool to address issues encountered by WiFi networks. The app enables you to determine factors like signal strength, overlapping channels, and Internet connection speed. It can pinpoint signal-to-noise ratio problems that may need to be resolved by reconfiguring your network or moving other equipment that is interfering with its performance. Periodic analysis of your WiFi network is an important component in its maintenance and optimization.