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Wi-Fi wireless connections

18/04/11

Wi-Fi wireless connections

Permalink 09:20:40 am by Eugene Gardner, Categories: General, Articles

Although wirelessly connecting computers to the Internet certainly is convenient, many people think that it is just as good as a wired connection. This is not the case for several reasons:

  • The theoretical maximum throughput of wireless after the overhead for using it is considered is usually about half that of wired.
  • Router position is significant, it should be connected to the master socket and positioned high with external antenna pointing up.
  • The router must be as close as possible to the computer for maximum signal strength and quality - signals will go through a brick wall, but if the signal hits at 45 degrees that's double the thickness of a 90 degree approach.

Apart from the above, wireless signals are affected by their surroundings:

  • The weather does have an effect - this is not an urban myth
  • Mirrors will distort signals
  • Your neighbours may have their router on the same channel as yours - this will cause interference
  • Microwave ovens often operate at the same frequency and mess with signals
  • Wireless speakers, cordless phones and games consoles may all take their toll
  • If your walls are old enough to contain chicken wire to help binding the signal will be altered
  • Power cables not only contain metal but with electro magnetic forces adding to the mix they can be a killer for wireless
  • Modern glass often has UV coatings that help with insulation but reflect some of the wireless signal
  • Fish tanks cause not only light to refract
  • Bluetooth and infra-red devices will hurt the signal
  • Christmas lights and video senders too.

Remember that the free routers that come from ISPs are not the top of the range models. Better quality wireless routers will use a faster protocol than standard (802.11n), may bind several channels together to double the wireless spread and may use the new 5GHz frequency. While the 5GHz frequency can help as it is less congested than the traditional 2.4GHz, the bands are wider spaces leading to less crossover and there are not so many devices using them; being a higher frequency means they traverse walls and other obstructions with a much reduced signal strength.

If your wireless is flakey it is wise to get an expert in to analyse the signals bouncing around your home and make suggestions to alleviate the problem.

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