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Extending your wireless network

posted Feb 8, 2014, 7:10 PM by Daryl du Plessis
Wireless networks are very common in homes and businesses these days. Most people will have a broadband router that will act as your wireless access point, which provides a wireless network around the house or business. The maximum range of the wireless network will depend on a number of factors but generally speaking the more expensive routers will give you a larger area.The environment will also impact on the range, especially if  there are dense walls in the building or, in the case of a shed, metal walls.

Fortunately there are ways of extending the wireless network if you find that you just can't get it where you want it. There may be a couple of scenarios and I'll focus on these and the relevant solution.

Scenario 1: You have a wireless network in the house but want to get access when you are outside the house, and the signal doesn't currently reach. In this case you can use a wireless range extender that will sit within range of the network, but repeat the signal so it reaches outside the house.  These devices are typically very simple and as long as they are situated in the right location, will extend the reach of your wireless network and eliminate dead spots for about 20 - 30 metres. Wireless range extenders are easily found at computer stores and range in price from $50 upwards. Beware though that the cheaper devices may not boost the signal as far as a better quality brand.

Scenario 2:  You have a broadband connection in one building but want to get broadband access in another building  located out of reach of the network. So let's say for example you have your router and wireless network in the house but want to get internet access in a shed 400 metres away. As I mentioned earlier sheds can be problematic as they shield a wireless signal. The solution would be to use 2 wireless antenna to send a directional signal (i.e. a more focussed signal) between the buildings. As long as you have line of site  between the buildings, this is achievable, with the right antenna. Line of sight just means you can actually see from one site to another without obstruction. With this setup it is actually possible to extend your wireless network for kilometres if the conditions are right. The antennae you need in this  scenario are more specialised and not as readily available. Installation is also a bit more complicated as you need to factor in signal strength, range and additional wiring back to your network devices. The antenna cost from $150 and upwards depending on the model. You will need two antenna for the system to work in this Point-to-Point configuration.

So if you are concerned about getting your internet access where you want it, don't despair, there are many options available to you.