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  1. #1
    Star Lounger
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    Recommend wireless access point or router?

    Hi,

    I've got a mostly gigabit (obviously wired) network in my house. I have an old Linksys WRT-54G router hanging off one port as an access point for a my laptop and now smart phone.

    This has worked -mostly- fine so far for web surfing and e-mail, but...
    1. Every so often the signal is just weak enough that I have to re-connect

    2. Even though Win7 says the signal strength is 'Excellent', if I try to do any -real- work---say in Photoshop, the file open/save is kinda pokey. The connection speed is usually something like 9MBPS.

    3. I'm noticing now that there are something like 6 neighbourhood networks and... maybe I'm paranoid... but I'm thinking this LinkSys isn't the most secure thing.


    Although I I understand basic Ethernet well, I haven't kept up on the various Wifi protocols or brands or -whatever- so picking a brand is difficult. I just need a WAP that is easy to install with my wired router... I remember it took a certain amount of work to get the LinkSys to play well with my main Gigabit router.

    So...
    1. Will I get noticeably better speed?
    2. Will I get noticeably better signal strength?
    3. Anything easy to install as WAP for under $100>

    ...or... if it ain't broke, should I not try to fix it?

    TIA,

    ---JC

  2. #2
    Super Moderator RetiredGeek's Avatar
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    JC,

    If there are that many local signals floating around you may might want to try switching your Linksys router to a less used channel as this could clear up your signal by eliminating interference from one of the other locals.

    With the link above scroll down to the section: Channels and international compatibility.

    Update: you can use the inSSIDer program to see what channels the other APs are using.
    Last edited by RetiredGeek; 2011-08-21 at 17:11.
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  4. #3
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    Thanks. My 'smart' phone has an app like that... I'll check it. (One of the few good things about that phone---note to self---NEVER buy another 'smart' or Sony phone until AT&T unlocks their 'marketplace'.)

    Anyone else re. my other questions? What about the performance difference between what I got and the newer 'n' routers? Security improvements?

    ---JC

  5. #4
    Super Moderator Deadeye81's Avatar
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    Hi suntower,

    As Retired Geek advised, the channel you use is most likely the real key to improve performance in your setup, given there are so many other local networks operating in range of yours.

    If you opt to buy one of the Wireless N routers, you will gain greater speeds within you own local network, but you will not see much of a difference when you leave your local network to go on the Internet.

    If you do invest in a Wireless N router, be sure to confirm it to be IPv6 ready, as there are N routers out there that are not.

  6. #5
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    You might consider a dual band router, 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands. MY area is loaded with 2.4 GHz networks, but mine is the only 5 GHz network. My Linksys 4200 meets all the requirements mentioned above and will actually connect using both bands simultaneously and choose whichever is best. I use inSSIDer 2.0 to check my nework at home. Check it out.

    IInsider2.4.png Iinsider5.0.png
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  7. #6
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    Thanks gentlemen. I will attempt to look @ the channel issue tonight and report back. But based on 2 things I am inclined to get an N Router...
    1. I don't need more speed on the Internet; I need more speed on my 'intra-net'... getting big videos and imgs across to my laptop from my media server.

    2. I keep reading a lot of articles on security problems with old wi=fi routers. Maybe that's needless paranoia.

    The only thing holding me back is, again, setting up the LinkSys as a WAP---not as a -router- per se, was not a trivial exercise.

  8. #7
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    FYI... How interesting! 11:22pm

    11 networks going according to inSSIDer.
    All 11 on 2.4ghz. None on 5ghz.
    7 on channel 6 (including me). 2 on channel 1. 1 on channel 11. 1 on channel 2.
    4 are (N) routers

    Does it matter which channel one chooses?

  9. #8
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    Should not matter. Choose a channel that gives you the best performance. I would switch to a channel, then try it for a while. If you still have problems try another channel. Better yet, if you have the ability to switch to the 5 GHz band then do so. Very few of your or my neighbors are there yet.

    One other thing to consider, many wireless phone systems use the 2.4 GHz band as well, can cause interference, and these probably won't show up on inSSIDer. Microwaves can cause interference on the 2.4 GHz band. Just something to consider.
    Last edited by Medico; 2011-08-23 at 06:22.
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  10. #9
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    Be aware that on the 2.4ghz band the only channels that actually do not overlap are 1, 6 and 11.

    In your situation the 2 on channel one and the 1 on channel two will interfere. This is the same as if there were 3 on channel one. Obviously channel 6 is your least desirable setting. Channel 1 has three sources of interference so it is also not a good choice. Channel 11 will probably work fine as long as the other network is not really close with a really strong signal.

    I agree that a 5ghz router is a good choice for you, you do need to be aware that all your devices must have wireless network adapters that allow them to connect to the 5ghz band. (this is generally denoted as 802.11a on the card as that was the original 5ghz standard) A true dual band device with two radios that will transmit on both bands at the same time is a good way to get around this problem.

    You will find that the 5ghz band has much less range then 2.4ghz. As few as two walls between you and the access point will reduce your signal to where the speed is back down to B level speeds.

    To understand what is happening with radio interference, I like to think of it as a noisy room (we use the term signal to noise ratio or SNR). When the signal that you are connected to is equal or less than the interfering signal, your computer cannot "understand" the signal and loses connection. This is just like a conversation in a noisy room, you find that as the noise level gets as high as the volume of the conversation, the things you wish to hear become unintelligible.

    There should be no hoops to jump through to make any router a simple access point. Just be sure to turn off the DHCP server in the router's settings and then plug your network cable into one of the LAN ports. DO NOT USE THE Internet or WAN port (just leave it empty).
    Last edited by mercyh; 2011-08-24 at 10:23.

  11. #10
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    The dual band (Linksys 4200e I think) which does indeed transmit on both channels simultaneously and I actually get better connection than my old device that could broadcast on one or the other, not both simultaneously. My router is upstairs on one end of the house in the study. My wife and I use our laptops on the other end of the house on 1st floor with no wireless connection issues. My upload and download speeds on various testing sites is reasonablee. We love this router so far (about 4 months worth)
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  12. #11
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    Ted,

    What is showing up on your inssider graph on the 2.4ghz side that is very powerful and spans 8 channels? (It looks like something the FCC may be interested in.....)

  13. #12
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    Have not a clue what that is. You can see my puny little thing. That network is constantly changing. I just took another look. First it's very powerful spanning many channels, then it drops down to low power still spanning many channels, then changes to spanning 3 or 4 channels like mine, then back to high power. Really strange. Who knows. As long as it is not affecting me. My 2.4 GHz stays pretty steady and no one is on my 5 GHz. So far I love this router.
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  14. #13
    Lounge VIP bobprimak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mercyh View Post
    Ted,

    What is showing up on your inssider graph on the 2.4ghz side that is very powerful and spans 8 channels? (It looks like something the FCC may be interested in.....)
    Could this be a cordless phone?
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  15. #14
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    I suppose it's possible, I know many cordless phones do use the 2.4 GHz band so who knows.
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  16. #15
    5 Star Lounger
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobprimak View Post
    Could this be a cordless phone?
    I don't think so, it shows a network speed and an SSID. I think it is some kind of aftermarket software running on a router that is using two channels to create a faster network. The thing that I think is an FCC issue is the strength of the signal. I run network radios that will reach 20+ miles and have never seen a signal that strong even doing a survey right next to them. If it was up on a licensed band, it could be a legal device but down in the 2.4ghz band I doubt it.

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