Wondering "how do I extend my wireless network?" You're not alone. People who live in areas with high population densities, or people who have large houses, frequently find they can't get their wireless signal from one side of the house to the other. Fortunately, you have plenty of options to optimize your wireless network.
Change Your Router's Location
If your wireless router is on one end of the house and you use your computer or laptop on the other end, you're much more prone to experience signal problems. Move your router to a central location in the middle of the house to ensure the signal extends more evenly throughout your home. Keep the router away from exterior walls, or you'll be sending half the signal to the outside world. Keep it away from metal surfaces and areas with thick concrete or brick, which can all obstruct the signal.
Upgrade to MIMO Technology
Some routers include MIMO technology or an equivalent. MIMO stands for multiple-input and multiple-output. MIMO technology is somewhat complicated, but basically, it boosts your signal strength by using multiple broadcasting channles, resulting in increased range and a faster connection. Many mid-range and high-end routers today offer MIMO technology, and upgrading to one of these routers can sometimes drastically boost your signal strength.
Add a Repeater
Wireless access points, wireless repeaters and wireless extenders perform basically the same function: they extend your wireless signal by relaying it. Wireless repeaters and extenders live in an area with strong signal. They amplify and rebroadcast your signal, increasing your range. Wireless access points typically connect with a wire and transmit wireless signal from a second location. Both of these options give you the ability to extend your reach by getting your signal to distant areas of your apartment or home.
Watch out for Interference
Wireless interference can make a big difference in the effectiveness of a wireless network, especially in densely populated areas. If you have issues with your wireless signal, check for interference and try to get rid of it. Wireless networks that operate on 2.4GHz frequencies, including 802.11a, 802.11b and 802.11g networks, are more prone to interference from cordless phones, some televisions and microwaves. Try changing your router's channel to boost the signal range, and move it away from these potential sources of interference if possible.
Update Network Software
Routers operate using a set of firmware, or software that tells the hardware how to operate. Router manufacturers typically update their firmware and release newer versions as they make changes to enhance signal or support security updates. To get the best performance from your wireless network, make sure your wireless router and any wireless network devices you use have the most updated versions of their firmware.
Change Your Antennas
There are two antennas that a wireless connection uses: one at the router and one at the receiving device. The antennas packed with routers are omindirectional, meaning they send out a signal in an even 360-degree radius. If you've got a very tall or very long space, you might do better with a directional antenna that can be pointed toward the places where you need a stronger signal.
Built-in antennas on wireless network cards, especially those for laptops, are sometimes too small to receive a signal. Try replacing these with an external USB antenna for better reception at the edges of your wireless network.
Beware of Range-Boosting Capabilities
People are always concerned about whether their wireless network is going to have enough range, so manufacturers use various buzzwords to convince you that the router you buy has the best possible range. They'll use language like "range-boosting" and graphics that show routers extending further than competitors' products. Be wary of these claims. Wireless router range depends on your ability to reduce interference and place your router away from obstacles that block the signal. The only products that can actually boost range are products that use MIMO technology.
Wireless networks are only as good as the antennas on your router and your wireless devices. Fortunately, it's simple to replace many types of antennas to get better network performance and range.
Wireless network setup sometimes goes astray. When it does, utilize these troubleshooting tips to get your network up and running.