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1st Published, Dec. 2004
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Extending the Distance of Entry Level Wireless Network.
Extending the range of Entry Level Wireless depends on many Environmental variables, thus there is no one simple solution. Implementing any solution necessitates additional work and material (i.e. more money) in top of the initial buying of the Entry Level hardware.
There are many ways to extend distance of Wireless Hardware; the following is a primer for Extending the Wireless Coverage in all directions Indoor.
Scenario 1: One floor house, the living room has a cathedral ceiling, and all the rest of the house is basically around the Living room.
A Ceiling Antenna was installed a few feet bellow the Apex of the ceiling. The result Wireless coverage of the whole house and 60' around the outside. (The Wireless Router is near the computer, the Antenna is connected with extension coax).
Cost: $20 - $40 for an Antenna + $15 - $35 for coax cable.
Note* This type of solution works well when it is one big open space with single rooms around. It is not advisable for an environment with multi levels and serious of rooms (one after the other) separated by walls.
Scenario 2: A "normal" two floors house. The Internet Modem and the Router are in the Den and the signal can not cover the whole house, it usually covers the Computer room and the direct rooms next, sideway, and above.
Additional Access Point was installed and physically put on a high pedestal near the staircase in the hallway. The AP was connected to the den's Wireless Router with a long CAT5 cable. The result a total converge of all the house with good Wireless signal.
As oppose to the solution in Scenario One, putting a better Antenna on the Wireless source in a multi level multi room environment, would not benefit as much as adding a second unit in a better location.
Cost: $20 (on sale) for Wireless Router (used as an Access point) + few $$ for CAT5e cable.
Since the price of Wireless Routers is much lower than the price of Access Points.
Many people extend the coverage by connecting a second Wireless Router, configured as an Access Point, to the primary Wireless Router that is connected to the Internet modem.
Here you would find configuration Instructions.Using a Wireless Cable/DSL Router as a Switch with an Access Point.
In general Access Points have more configuration Modes than Wireless Cable/DSL Routers. Read this to make sure that you choose the right piece of hardware.
Repeater solution. - This solution is similar to Scenario 2. However by using a Repeater it is not necessary to connect the AP via CAT5 to the Wireless Source.
What is a Repeater? Link to: Wireless Network - Configuration Modes.
Wireless Repeater actually cuts the Bandwidth by half. (Since it has to Flip-Flop between Transmit, and Receive with a single Radio). However if used correctly it will increase the Distance.
To be configured the Repeater the unit has to be attached to a computer. Once it is configured it can stand by itself and need only power, no CAT5 connection is necessary.
Typical cost of an Entry Level Access Point that can be configured as a Repeater is about $50-$90.
Antenna and extension coax are relatively expensive thus the cost of adding an Access Point or extending Antenna is in same “ballgame”.
Indoor, Access Point (Repeater) might yield better Extension of the Wireless Coverage than a fancy Antenna.
The following is for illustration purpose, actual numbers in your settings could be totally different than the following.
Let say you get Wireless "Speed" of 1Mb/sec. (1Mb/sec. is probably the limit for a working Internet connection) at 80'.
Assuming that the bandwidth at 60' is 2Mb/sec. You put a Repeater at 60', it cuts the bandwidth but it will transmit it for another 60-80' so all together you will get the 1Mb/sec. at about 150'.
Note*** Since the price of Wireless Routers is much lower than the price of Access Points, many people extend the coverage by connecting a second Wireless Router to the one connected to the modem, and put it in a second location at the site.
here you would find configuration Instructions.Using a Wireless Cable/DSL Router as a Switch with an Access Point.
More options concerning Wireless Distance:
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