Extend Home Wifi

If like me your house has a few rooms and you’re finding that the wireless signal from your ADSL modem can’t quite reach the kitchen, it might be worth thinking about extending your wireless network.

We had this problem a couple of years ago when a radiator upstairs blocked all but a little bit of the wireless signal and the back garden is a complete wireless black spot.

I researched around and looked at getting a wireless repeater and even tried it out with a pair of Netgear WN203’s. It was patchy at best…. The access point in the shed could only occasionally receive the signal from the one in the kitchen, so being able to use the wireless hotspot in the garden was hit and miss.

So having researched a number of solutions and tried out a couple, these are my recommendations for extending wireless coverage.

Run an Ethernet cable to the point where you’d like wifi coverage and then put a wireless access point in instead of a repeater/extender. A wifi access point will connect to your network via the Ethernet cable and broadcast its own new wireless network rather than trying to connect to your existing wireless network. This will be far more reliable than a repeater/extender!

If you have multiple access points (your ADSL wifi modem is one!), make sure they are on different wifi channels, but all on the same mode (b/g/n). If you’re still using 2.4Ghz wifi (b, g or n modes), use channels 1, 6 and 11 as they don’t overlap – see here for more details: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_WLAN_channels#2.4.C2.A0GHz_.28802.11b.2Fg.2Fn.29

If you have multiple access points, use the same wifi SSID and password! (This one really annoys me when people have multiple access points at home [or at the hotel on holiday in the Netherlands] and they don’t have a roaming network.) If you use the same SSID and password (case sensitive!), users can roam between the access points as if they are all the same access point! There is a short delay between swapping from one access point to another.

This is my home network with two wifi SSIDs, one for guests and one for home users. All three access points are on different channels to avoid clashing and the two access points on the left have the same SSID to enable roaming between the two.

(This is not an advert for Netgear technology! Although I do use Netgear products at home as in the past they have been reliable, the current products don’t seem to have the same reliability as yesteryear. I will be swapping out the WN203’s this year and the DGN2200 is v1, before the new bloatware they put on the new models. That device will be swapped for another brand when it finally stops working – not long now!)