Is the wireless signal at your organization slow, inconsistent, or nonexistent in certain parts of the building? If you struggle with an unreliable wireless signal, the solution may be as simple as moving your access point or changing the channel. Below, we'll show you techniques even non-techies can use to extend the range and coverage of your network.
Wireless devices such as laptop computers use radio frequency (RF) waves to communicate with one another. Just like the radio waves that you hear on your car radio, the RF waves from a wireless access point (AP) — the device that links up your wired and wireless networks — get weaker and weaker the further away you get from the source. Moreover, metal, concrete, wood, and other electronic devices can all interfere with a wireless signal, distorting it and limiting its range.
Before you can fix a temperamental signal, you need to make sure that the signal really is the problem. Site surveys can help you determine exactly where you have coverage and where you don't. You can get a very rough measure of the strength of your signal by carrying a laptop around your organization and seeing how many "bars" you get. On your computer or smartphone, you'll see an icon that indicates the signal strength. More bars or levels indicate a stronger signal. To get a more precise measurement, you'll have to download special software or buy a device specifically designed to measure the wireless signal. There are also free applications like HeatMapper for Windows or Netspot for Macs that you can use. For more information, look up "site survey" using your search engine.
Using a site survey tool, look for the following:
All the various wireless problems out there can be summed up in two main causes: your wireless equipment isn't as powerful or reliable as you'd like it to be, or something in your environment is interfering with your wireless signal.
Before you make the switch to 802.11n, there are still some potential problems to be aware of when considering the upgrade. All of your equipment has to comply with the 802.11n standard in order to take full advantage of the gains in speed and range. Older b/g adapters can connect with an 802.11n router if the access point is backwards compatible.
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