There comes a time when your home wired or wireless network just doesn’t reach far enough. You don’t have Ethernet wires running to all rooms — that’s why you bought a wireless router (plus the fact that wired–only home routers are harder to find <grin>).
But, now, you’ve found that the wireless signal isn’t strong enough to get to all the rooms, or you need to extend it even farther, perhaps to the back yard or patio.
That’s what happened to me, pretty much in that sequence.
My main router is at the front of the house, where my cable modem is located, because that’s where the non–TV line from the main splitter ends.
Cable modems use the same RG6 cable that cable television uses. However, the cable modem is much more susceptible to drops in signal strength. Therefore, the common practice is to put a two–way splitter (1 input and 2 outputs) at the point the cable enters the house.
Then, run an RG6 cable directly from one output to cable modem and a second cable to the televisions. On the televisions line, you may add additional splitters and, if necessary, cable signal amplifiers.
The basic problem with splitters is that, just like the name says, the signal is split — including the signal strength. Unfortunately, it’s actually worse because of losses. Each output of a 2–way spitter is less than half of the input strength.
I use my iPhone and iPad in the house. Similarly, my wife and son have their own “iDevices.” All connect wirelessly to our router for email, web browsing, and printing to printers on our home network.
I found that the wireless signal just wasn’t strong enough in the master bedroom of my house. My iPhone would recognize the network enough to connect — but just couldn’t manage to transfer any data (or the data transfer speed had dropped so low that it seemed not to work).
I would have to turn off the wireless connection (on the iPhone) in order to have it switch to the phone company’s LTE service, and then remember to turn wireless back on when I went into the rest of the house.
I checked and found I could upgrade the firmware on my wireless router. That seemed to help (probably just wishful thinking). Later, I changed wireless routers for a screaming new one. That helped. For a while, until it died… I hooked up the old, spare router to keep running, while I researched what to buy.
I upgraded wireless routers again (this is happening over 3–4 years). Now, it’s a Linksys WRT1900AC dual-band router. Wow! All our iDevices can connect to its 2.4GHz network or its 5GHz network.
Still I find that (1) the 5GHz network drops when I get to the back of the house, and (2) the 2.4GHz network still has occasional issues when I’m at the back of the house.
My first solution (which solved the iPhone issue) was found when an Internet-based retailer offered an Edimax EW07288APC wireless access point as one of its daily sale items. This operates on a single 5GHz frequency band. It’s not 2.4GHz nor dual 2.4GHz/5GHz.
The Edimax wireless range extender looks like a white antenna tower about 7 inches tall, ranging from 2.5 inches at the base to 1 inch for most of its height. Connections include USB (power wall adapter included) and Ethernet (to connect to the existing network).
The unit was somewhat difficult to configure, mainly because I expected features in the Wi-Fi Bridge Mode that were only in the Access Point mode. The Wi-Fi Bridge Mode would connect wirelessly to my other wireless router in order to provide network access for a device connected to it by the Ethernet cable.
It would also allow other wireless devices to connect to it, acting like an access point (this AP function could not be turned off) — the problem was that the MAC Address filter mode (used to restrict which other devices/computers could connect wirelessly to it) does not work in Wi-Fi Bridge mode. It only works in Access Point mode.
So, I set up the Edimax in Access Point mode and I added all my wireless devices to the MAC address filter table. That solved the wireless issues for a long time.
Later, if you recall my product review of the Jadaol Flat Cat6 Ethernet Cable, I decided that I needed an Ethernet connection to the Windows Media Center pc in the master bedroom, which functions as an extension of my home theater PC.
I also bought a cheap 5-port switch. The flat cable (from the rest of the network) plugged into the switch. Another Ethernet cable plugged into my home theater extension PC, and yet another Ethernet cable plugged into the Edimax extender.
Now, I had fully-workable, streamable Windows Media Center video across my home network (before, I would get some hesitation occasionally, which I attributed to interference). All was fine with the world…
Continued in Extending the Home Wireless Network, part 2