A wireless router's range is determined by what 802.11 protocol is used, the overall strength of the router itself, and the nature of the obstructions and interference in the area.
The 802.11g protocol supports speeds up to 56Mbps. Its biggest drawback is that this protocol operates on the same band (2.4GHz) as many other devices, such as microwaves and cordless phones. Because of this, in all likelihood your wireless connection will be negatively impacted by interference from other devices.
The 802.11n protocol operates on the 5GHz band and is advertised to support speeds up to 300Mbps. Actual speeds, however, are much less. To take advantage of this protocol, all connected devices must be 802.11n compliant, and you should be aware that the 5GHz band, while allowing for less interference than the 2.4GHz band, will result in reduced signal range.Wireless Signal Strength and Speed
Signal strength depends on the distance, the number of obstacles, and the type of obstacles your signal encounters. Signal strength stability is affected by physical changes in the environment, such as movement of the computer, people movement, and electrical devices. In fact, I completely lose my signal if I have my laptop in the kitchen when the microwave is running. Troubleshooting your wireless router can be very difficult because there are so many constantly changing variables that affect wireless signal quality. Consider the following to improve your wireless router signal and speed:Position your router in a better location
. Try to locate it in the center of the house. Elevate the router in the room and keep it away from other electronic devices and metal objects. Since cordless phones can adversely affect router performance, position the router as far away from phones as possible. The fewer obstacles in the way, the better chance your computer has of obtaining a quality signal.Change the Wi-Fi Channel.
Signal quality can be adversely affected if too many people use the same channel. See if switching channels makes any difference. You can use channels 1 through 11, but for best performance, use 1, 6, or 11.Update firmware or drivers.
Check your router's web site to ensure the latest firmware has been installed on the router. Also, make sure the latest driver has been installed. I noticed a slight increase in signal strength when I updated my driver.Replace your antenna.
Replacing your antenna with a high gain antenna may improve your signal quality. There was no noticeable improvement when I tried this option.Replace your adapter.
Check to make sure your computer's internal adapter isn't defective. If necessary, you can either replace the internal adapter or purchase an USB
adapter, The USB adapter includes an external antenna.Implement an additional access point or repeater
. In theory, additional access points and repeaters will extend the distance of the signal. There are mixed reviews as to how effective these are, but they are worth a try if other options are unsuccessful.
There are several applications designed to monitor your wireless router performance
. However, one way to obtain a rough estimate of your router's performance is to hold a laptop near the router. Access the wireless utility software on the laptop and note the readout, which should be excellent or close to 100%. Carry the laptop out of the room, noting any changes in signal strength. If the signal strength drops to poor or a very low percentage signal reading, then the router may be performing properly but obstacles, either structural or electrical, may be interfering with your router's broadcast signal. The results of your evaluations will help you determine if wireless signal quality issues exist in certain locations in your house.What Worked for Me
There are several possible ways to improve wireless router signal quality in your home. Try the least expensive solutions first. Otherwise, you may be needlessly spending money for equipment that doesn't solve your specific issue. In my particular case, I was able to obtain some slight improvement by updating software and making some system improvements. Ultimately, I was able to get the signal strength and speed I wanted by using two routers on opposite ends of the house. My primary router, which is connected to the modem, is on the first floor. My secondary router is on the second floor and is connected to the primary router by an ethernet cable. This was the best and least expensive solution that provided me with very good coverage inside and outside my house.
*Although Belkin has discontinued the F5D8231-4 model, it is available from some online companies.