• United States

Extending WiFi range

Apr 03, 20063 mins
Cellular NetworksComputersWi-Fi

I’m using a 2-Wire HomePortal 1000SW and I am having trouble with getting a good signal in my upstairs bedroom where we have a wireless connection for our XBOX and another wireless connection for another computer. I was thinking about running an Ethernet cable from a hub where the 2-Wire is located to the upstairs location and put another wireless router at that point. Will this work, or do you have another suggestion?

— Kendal

I didn’t find anything on the 2-Wire Web site to indicate that your 1000SW had external antenna jacks for WiFi component of the router. If you do have antenna jacks on the back of the unit, see if you can find external antennas for the unit either from the manufacturer or from a third party. This might be the easiest way to increase the coverage area of your existing system short of adding another access point.

If external antennas aren’t an option, then adding another access point will work. While adding another wireless router will work, I would suggest looking for a plain-vanilla access point with no router functionality. This may not save you money, but it could save you time – you won’t have to worry about router management.

If you do have to go with a second wireless router (one just like what you already have), make sure to use a different IP address range for it so that things don’t get confused. One advantage of going with a plain AP is that you can probably find one (such as Linksys) that will support external antennas that will let you get good coverage in your house without broadcasting your network into your neighborhood.

There are a few steps to make sure you get the most out of the second access point – and increase its security. First, look at the WiFi channel number used by your first access point. Ideally it should be on either channel 1, 6 or 11. Put your other access point on a different channel. This keeps the two access points from interfering with each other. I would also suggest turning off SSID broadcasting, to minimize advertising outside your house that you have wireless. Using encryption will be a further way of keeping unwelcome users from taking advantage of your wireless connection. Consider MAC address filtering so that only the MAC addresses you enter into the router or access point will be able to access the Internet. In combination, these steps will make it that much harder for someone to use your wireless connection without your permission.

The software for your wireless cards should have a site-monitor function that will let you see the other AP’s in your immediate area. Be a good neighbor and try not to use a channel that you can clearly “hear.” It may not be possible but it is good to at least try to not cause a problem if it can be helped.