You will be able to create a convenient and flexible way to connect to the internet or even to any other connected device through an extended wireless network.
One of the best ways to ensure better and stronger signals for extending wireless networks is to replace the old router with a more modern wireless AC or N router.
But, it may not always be necessary to take this route. There are lots of other basic ways in which you can achieve that. This article will guide you through it most comprehensively letting you know the needs for such extension and improvements, the issues underlying and more.
- Extensions to the wireless network should be made based on the available and required signal, the needs and prevailing conditions.
- Signal strength of the wireless network may be strengthened by upgrading all the adapters.
- You may also buy a stronger antenna and build a wireless range extender. This will also make the signal of the network much stronger.
How to Extend Your Wireless Network?
Addressing the Wi-Fi signal strength of a wireless network is one of the most significant considerations.
Ideally, the process of extending a wireless network starts with understating the issues, needs and predicting the optimal range of the signal.
The final step involves choosing the best option and fixes based on the given circumstances after proper understanding. Whether it is in your home or office, the signal of the network should be strong, clear and extended.
However, it may not be very easy for you to choose the best possible way to extend and strengthen your wireless network if you do not know the issues and the need in the first place.
Once you know about it, it will be easy to explore all of the different available options.
You will typically need to address the range of the Wi-Fi signal most importantly when you want to set up a wireless network or even want to extend the existing one.
This is one of the most important factors to consider because it is the signal that should reach and serve the users adequately to make the network efficient and productive.
It is only then the network will serve its purpose of creation in the first place.
Therefore, you will need to tweak the weak or non-existent signals in the parts of the wireless network where you want a smooth and seamless coverage.
Need to Extend
There can be n-number of reasons for you to extend the wireless network range over and above what you are currently receiving. These are:
- Poor set up – If you do not plan the layout of your wireless network properly, it will result in poor coverage and performance. This might even impact the users in an adverse manner. Therefore, you should extend your network so that all the users get a strong Wi-Fi signal.
- New requirements – There may be new users in your organization who may be needed to be included in the network as well. For them you may have to extend your existing wireless network in that additional space where you have housed your new employees.
- Poor signal – As said earlier, this is often the most common reason for extending a wireless network. This is especially necessary for those particular establishments that offer free Wi-Fi to their consumers, such as a coffee shop, so that they do not leave the space frustrated with the poor wireless connectivity.
The Underlying Issues
There can be a few significant issues within the premise as well as in the network that may result in a poor signal strength and call for proper fixes. These are:
- Drywall – A drywall can degrade the signal of the wireless network significantly and very quickly, particularly when it has to pass through additional piping and insulation.
- Blocked router – The router, which should be usually placed in a central location, may be blocked as well by too many objects in between. In such cases, simply using a repeater may not be enough. It might need dedicated wired access points in the trouble spots or even something bigger such as a mesh network.
- Outdoor access – Having problems in outdoor access, such as in the backyard area, is a common issue with most wireless network connections. The walls or insulation may create issues even for the strongest wireless signals making them weak and preventing them from reaching where it is intended to. A mesh mode, a wired access point or an adapter may resolve this issue.
- Asymmetrical floor plan – Unconventional and irregular floor plan and hindering features in between may weaken the Wi-Fi signals as well. Traditional layout along with a mesh network may be useful in spreading the nodes apart so that they can offer direct access to the network.
- Aged hardware – If you have older modems and Wi-Fi routers it will offer slower speeds even if the internet plan offers a higher speed. Upgrading the equipment and firmware is a good fix for it.
Predicting and Optimizing Network Range
This is an important step that is often overlooked.
However, this will help you to extend your wireless network most efficiently and make the best use of the Wi-Fi signal.
You can use different tools and analyzers for this that are available on the internet, mostly for free.
Such knowledge will help you in tuning the wireless network based on the signal available and required for best coverage of the intended area by conducting a more precise site survey.
This will help you to know about the potential trouble spots within the intended coverage area and at the same time, it will also help you to determine which particular equipment will serve your purpose in the best possible way.
If you use a good troubleshooting tool, you will also be able to know about the issues within the network which can be any of the following:
- Weak signal strength
- Signal to noise ratio
- Slower internet speed and
- Overlapping channels.
All these will help in making proper predictions which will result in maximum optimization.
Understanding the Devices
One last step to follow before exploring the different options of wireless network extension is to understand the different types of wireless extension devices that are available on the market.
This is an important step to follow because all these devices are not created equal.
Therefore, any and every one of them may not serve your purpose in the best possible way.
Moreover, without proper understanding of the extensions along with the terms related to them that are often used interchangeably, it will be quite difficult to make the right choice due to more confusion.
Extender or Repeater:
For example, when you come across terms like a Wi-Fi Extender or Repeater, be informed that their function is the same.
They ‘repeat’ or boost the existing signal outwards, typically to those areas that are not covered properly by the original signal.
However, these devices may not really ‘boost’ the signal because they can only put out what they take in.
This means that if they take in poor signal, they will hardly be able to boost it up or enhance the Wi-Fi coverage to a remarkable level.
And, with each and every node in the network consuming a slice of the total bandwidth, you will get slower speeds. So, these may not be an extremely attractive option.
Then, there are Wi-Fi access points that usually function almost like the extender or repeater.
However, it mainly depends on the hardwired connection of the network which will improve the signals dramatically as compared to a traditional wireless extender.
These devices are quite similar to the Wi-Fi access points in type but offer a high-speed internet connection to even those hard-to-reach places, such as in multi-storied buildings, or where cutting new cables is impossible or prohibitively expensive.
However, in most cases these devices may not extend the wireless network or expand the Wi-Fi coverage.
You can consider this as a series of access points that are spread all over the place.
It may not be technically accurate but the functionality of a mesh network may cover an entire city, and even the whole terrain of a country, in a few conditions.
However, this may need some advanced networking knowledge and comes at a cost.
Ways to Extend Wireless Network
You should always start with the basics while extending wireless networks, whether it is in your home or at your office.
Check Internet Connection:
Before you start fiddling with the Wi-Fi and blaming your network set up, check the wired internet connection.
It may not perform as it should be in the first place.
Consider doing a speed test to find out whether the internet speed matches with the speed you are billed for.
If it does not, call the Internet Service Provider.
If your modem is fine, running a speed test wirelessly may also be done.
Being right next to the router, if the speed is slow then the gear may be outdated and may need a replacement.
If everything is okay at this stage, the next thing to do is check your router by following these simple steps to find out whether or not it is working properly.
Proper positioning of the router is the key to have a much better network connectivity.
Therefore, make sure that it is placed at the most centrally located spot.
Though this will work well most of the time, if it doesn’t, try moving it to a new location.
However, see that there are no obstructions in between such doors and walls and never keep them in a desk drawer or inside a closet.
You may place it at a higher spot than before making sure that it is within the line of sight of all the computer systems that are connected to it.
Update Firmware of the Router:
It is very important to make sure that the firmware of the devices in the network is up to date so that it can make the best use of the signal that the router is providing currently.
And, if the router itself allows configuring it automatically to update the firmware, make sure that you use auto updates.
Dual Frequency Routers:
You will be better off if you use dual frequency routers since that will allow you to switch between frequencies depending on the usage.
These dual frequency routers will provide you with the option of 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz bands and you may switch to any band that improves the range of the wireless network.
Add Another Device:
Using a second router, Wi-Fi extender or a repeater will improve the wireless network signal and performance allowing the signals to reach to the dead or hard-to-reach spots within the coverage area.
You may need to connect the two routers by using a cable but there are a few specific models that may allow connecting the two wirelessly. Therefore, research is the key.
Employ a Mesh Network:
This is a good tactic for larger wireless networks as it can cover a large area whether it is in a single-storied or multi-storied building.
It is resilient by design because every base station is considered as a node.
Change the Channel:
Since interference can cause serious problems to a wireless network especially in the densely populated regions, you should check it out and may even need to change the channel to be better off.
As you may know, signals from other wireless networks can affect the speed as well such as that from the cordless phones, microwaves, and other electronic appliances.
However, you will need to keep a check on the channel regularly, especially if you change it manually, because congestion in a channel may change after some time.
Look for Wi-Fi Intruders:
Sometimes, problems may be caused by the intruders on your network and not by the Wi-Fi range or interference.
If you have a very weak password and your network is open, there will surely be some users or unwanted guests piggybacking on it, thereby affecting its performance.
Use proper tools to analyze traffic as well as the number of devices connected to the network at any given point of time.
This will help you find the one that is sucking up the bandwidth without your knowledge.
The modern modems are usually equipped with Quality of Service or QoS tools.
Using these tools will help in limiting the amount of bandwidth used by the apps.
There may even be a few QoS settings that may let you prioritize specific apps at different times of the day.
You will find this setting in the advanced settings head in the administrator interface of the network.
Add or Replace the Antenna:
If there is an internal antenna in the router, it might be a very good idea to add another external one to it to extend your wireless network with a far better and stronger signal.
There are several manufactures that sell such antennas separately.
You can buy an Omni directional antenna that will send signals in all directions.
According to your need, you may even buy a directional antenna that will send signals in only one direction.
Buying an antenna marked ‘high gain’ will always be better.
Upgrade Old Hardware:
If the hardware in your existing equipment is old in the first place, you will never get a high performance no matter how strong and fast the internet connection is.
It is always better to upgrade soon rather than waiting till it breaks down completely.
If the router is just a year old but the world is using the latest one, be brave and bold enough to sacrifice your current router and go for the latest model.
This is important because older routers will offer lower bandwidths and may also come with much shorter ranges.
For example, the maximum output of 802.11g is 54 MB/s, 802.11n is 300 MB/s, the latest 802.11ac is 1 GB/s, and the next generation Wi-Fi 6 routers offer as much as 10 GB/s. so, you surely get the point!
Wire All Additional Wireless Access Points:
Sometimes, wiring all wireless access points may dramatically change the Wi-Fi coverage with faster connection speed and performance as well.
You will need an Ethernet cable to make such connections which is known to support higher data transfer speeds.
In a nutshell, if you spend just a little bit of time to find the current performance of the wireless network in your home or office, you will not only know whether or not it needs to be extended but it will also let you know the best way to go ahead with it.
Therefore, you can see that there are different ways in which you can extend your wireless network but if you want to choose the best option that will offer convenience and comfort you will need to have a proper understanding of everything in the first place.
That was the whole idea of this article.