Is There a Way to Make Your Whole House Wireless?by Darrin Meyer
Wireless high-speed Internet provides the ability to stay connected while remaining portable and to have a greater number of computers accessing the network at any given time. However, wireless signals have a varying degree of strength and range, and in larger houses some rooms may fall outside of that range, causing any computers in those rooms to get a weak signal or none. With the right equipment connected properly, this problem can be avoided.
As with any wireless network, the modem remains the central hub. Have the cable or DSL modem located in as central a location as possible, dependent on the connection points available in your home. Picture your wireless network as a web, with the modem as the center point--placing it in the center of the home allows the router attached to that modem to service a wider area and allow other access points to draw equally off that main signal.
To make the network wireless, a wireless router must be connected to the modem to send out the signal. The average router has a range of 150 to 300 feet in a typical environment; that number can drop depending on any obstructions, and some signals may not carry through more than two walls. In smaller homes, or in those where computer use is limited to a few certain rooms, this may be enough.
In slightly larger homes, connecting a single add-on antenna or signal booster will extend the signal's range and may be enough to send the signal to all desired areas, or a dual-antenna base station, with the antennas pointed in different directions can have the same effect. For multi-level homes and those with greater square footage, extra access points may be added, such as the Apple AirPort Express, which plugs into any electrical outlet and detects and extends the signal of any active wireless networks. In addition, while all computers in use must have an internal or external wireless adapter card to pick up the Wi-Fi signal, using (and installing, if necessary) higher-powered adapter cards can greatly enhance that computer's ability to receive a strong signal. Once you ascertain the needs of your particular home based on its size and number of rooms, utilizing some combination of these devices should adequately equip the entire home with wireless capability.
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