How to Strengthen a Wireless Signal
By Michelle Labbe
With more devices than ever enabled for wireless Internet connectivity, a strong WiFi signal is especially important. If your WiFi is always on the fritz or if you think your signal isn't as strong as it should be, you can try any number of strategies to boost your signal strength. A simple trick or two might be all it takes to ramp up your WiFi connection and surf the Internet from your laptop, smartphone or PDA with ease.
Reposition your wireless router. Place the router in a central location in your home for the best signal strength throughout the house. If your router is against an outside wall of your home, the signal strength on the other side of the house may be weaker. Position the router away from walls, floors and metal objects, which can interfere with the signal.
Replace the router's antenna if you can't move it to a central location. Standard router antennas are designed to broadcast in all directions, but if you have to keep your router by a wall and have nowhere else to put it, switch to a hi-gain style antenna. This antenna will focus the wireless signal in one direction, concentrating its power to the area inside the house.
Invest in a wireless repeater. These devices, available from many electronics companies that make wireless routers, are able to extend your network range with a minimum of effort. Place the repeater halfway between your wireless access point and your computer, and the signal strength will increase.
Change your wireless channel. In North America, wireless routers can broadcast on three different channels: channel 1, channel 6, and channel 11. Sometimes one channel will be clearer than the others, so test the other channels to see if one works better. To change the channel your router uses, configure your router settings through your computer's network settings control panel.
Upgrade external PC-card wireless adapters for USB adapters with external antennas. Switching to a USB adapter can help boost the signal because it brings the signal into a more open environment.
Keep other wireless electronic devices such as cordless phones, microwaves and baby monitors away from your router, because they can interfere with the signal as well. Avoid electronic devices that use the 2.4 gigahertz frequency, because this is the same frequency that routers use. Look for devices that use 5.8 gigahertz or 900 megahertz frequencies to reduce interference.
Michelle Labbe has been writing online and for print since 2004. Her work has appeared in the online journals Reflection's Edge and Cabinet des Fées as well as in Harvard Book Store's anthology, "Michrochondria." She is pursuing a Master of Arts in publishing and writing at Emerson College.