Tech Tip: Expanding Your Home Network’s Reach

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Q. Any tips on how to extend the Wi-Fi signal in my home to parts of the house that get weak coverage?

A. If you are sharing your home’s internet connection by using a single wireless router to broadcast a network signal around the house (and not one of the newer mesh-networking systems), there are a few basic things you can do to try to improve your coverage. Your router manufacturer or internet provider (like Comcast, Time Warner Spectrum or Verizon) may have specific tips like changing the broadcast channel and frequency, but other suggestions are standard for most home networks.

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Apps that anaylize Wi-Fi signal strength can identify weak spots in your network coverage. Credit The New York Times

For starters, try moving the router to a different location, preferably out in the open and away from appliances, cordless phones and big metal objects that can block or absorb the Wi-Fi signal. Adjust the router’s antennas to different positions (even perpendicular) to see if the signal carries farther around the house. Serious do-it-yourself souls have resorted to using empty soda or beer cans — or shaped chunks of tinfoil — to focus the wireless signal in one direction; if this appeals to you, videos and instructions can be easily found online.

On the software side of things, make sure your router’s firmware is up-to-date and your network is password-protected so that only authorized family and friends can log on. If you want to get a general idea of your network signal coverage in various parts of the house so you can consider your options, you can use an app or program that analyzes your network signal strength as you move from room to room. Just search your online app store for a “Wi-Fi analyzer” or wireless-network mapping program for a mobile device or laptop.

If you have tried the available free approaches to increasing your network coverage and still have a sparse signal in certain areas of the house, you may need to invest in more hardware. If you do not want to upgrade to a newer router that may offer better coverage, consider a compatible network range extender or booster device to help your Wi-Fi signal reach farther. Most companies that make routers (like Linksys, Netgear and D-Link) also sell less expensive add-ons for increasing your network’s reach.

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Source: New York Times – Technology

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