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  1. #1
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    Wireless signal strength and channel?

    A friend of mine has been having slow performance on her wireless connection at home. She's in a single-family home, in a subdivision of similar-sized homes (approx. 2400 sq.ft.). I have inSSIDer4 on my netbook, so I went over and fired it up. It showed 2 other SSID's with the same signal strength as hers (-53 dBm) on the same channel (1). Then there's a significant drop in signal strength to the next nearest SSID's, none of which are on channel 1. inSSIDer4 recommended staying on Channel 1, but had nothing to say about the signal strength. The Atheros chip in her netbook is an "n" type, as is her xFinity modem/router.

    When I run inSSIDer4 at my apartment, it shows a signal strength for my connection that is 7-10 dBm "better" than anythiing around me (and there are a lot of other SSID's showing) and nobody on my channel (6). So my questions are 1) does the presence of two other setups with the same signal strength at her place indicate any particular problem, and 2) shouldn't she be using a different channel than those 2 setups?

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    I'm surprised they aren't knocking out her WiFi connection.

    Yes, change to a less populated channel - one that gives her the best signal strength with no other users or preferably none within -20dB - and this includes adjacent channels.

    inSSIDer4 is a paid for program but you could install the free inSSIDer3 on her computer so that she can periodically check for other users http://www.techspot.com/downloads/5936-inssider.html

    There's also a command that will give similar info but the RSSI values are in % and that is -

    netsh wlan show networks mode=bssid

    50% equates to -75dB which is disconnection territory so any other users with that RSSI value or less are okay to channel share with.
    Last edited by Sudo15; 2014-10-13 at 05:54.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sudo15 View Post
    I'm surprised they aren't knocking out her WiFi connection.

    Yes, change to a less populated channel - one that gives her the best signal strength with no other users or preferably none within -20dB - and this includes adjacent channels.

    inSSIDer4 is a paid for program but you could install the free inSSIDer3 on her computer so that she can periodically check for other users http://www.techspot.com/downloads/5936-inssider.html

    There's also a command that will give similar info but the RSSI values are in % and that is -

    netsh wlan show networks mode=bssid

    50% equates to -75dB which is disconnection territory so any other users with that RSSI value or less are okay to channel share with.
    I changed the router to Channel 6, which doesn't seem to be used by anyone nearby. I've been looking into range extenders, too, but there's a lot of posts that the xFinity modem/routers don't play well with those kinds of devices.

  4. #4
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    So was there any improvement for your friend after changing to channel 6 and is your friend's performance comparable with your own laptop - www.speedtest.net

    As you are considering range extenders then I assume your friend has to work some distance from the modem/router which will impact on performance.

    You can get ADSL extension cables so the modem/router can be located closer to the work station but an Ethernet connected computer will provide better speeds - it all depends upon your friend's setup and wireless requirements.

    The max length for an Ethernet cable is 100m.

    Powerline adapters are also an option to extend the wireless coverage which can also be Ethernet connected in the work station area.
    Last edited by Sudo15; 2014-10-20 at 18:06.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sudo15 View Post

    Powerline adapters are also an option to extend the wireless coverage which can also be Ethernet connected in the work station area.
    We're using a powerline adapter kit which has a wireless feature included. Adapter 1 is a standard 500Mbps powerline adapter. It plugs into an A/C wall power outlet near your router (or near your modem if the router is built-in). You connect the powerline adapter to the router with the included ethernet cable. Adapter 2 plugs into an A/C power outlet near where the weak wi-fi signal is. Now, Adapter 2 has an ethernet jack just like Adapter 1 has, but it also broadcasts a strong, clear wi-fi signal. In effect, it receives the full powerline/ethernet signal then works a wireless access point to give stronger reception in distant parts of the house or out on the patio, etc.

    The performance of this or any other powerline adapter setup is variable depending on the quality of your house wiring and whether you have any cellphone (or other device) charger cords plugged in to power outlets. Those phone chargers generate interference which reduces the signal strength of the powerline adapters EVEN WHEN YOU"RE NOT CHARGING YOUR PHONE, so it's best to unplug the charger cords from the wall when not in use.

    At home we like to sit out on the patio/deck in nice weather. My GF plays online games on her iPad while i surf the net or watch TV shows we recorded on our HTPC in the living room. Using the powerline wi-fi kit plugged into a power outlet indoors just under the patio window we both get strong glitch-free wi-fi. Before using the powerline wi-fi kit, it was hit and miss with freeze-ups and slowdowns.

    The kit we're using is from TP-Link but several other name brands are available including Netgear, D-Link, etc.
    Last edited by starvinmarvin; 2014-10-23 at 17:49. Reason: additional information

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    Quote Originally Posted by JJDetroit View Post
    I changed the router to Channel 6, which doesn't seem to be used by anyone nearby. I've been looking into range extenders, too, but there's a lot of posts that the xFinity modem/routers don't play well with those kinds of devices.
    An issue I had with a range extender was that the router was set to find the best channel, and so it would periodically switch channels, causing the range extender to drop the connection. Since setting the router to stay on the same channel, as far as I know, the range extender has never dropped the connection.

  7. #7
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    Had a Comcast weak signal/drop problem with their Arris TG8562 router which was resolved when it was replaced with the Techniccolor TC8305C router.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mrjimphelps View Post
    An issue I had with a range extender was that the router was set to find the best channel, and so it would periodically switch channels, causing the range extender to drop the connection. Since setting the router to stay on the same channel, as far as I know, the range extender has never dropped the connection.
    I've had a couple of ISP supplied routers that came pre-set to Auto for the channel selection and changing it to the channel I can normally use is one of the first settings I change.

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