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Say there's a place in my house where I currently get none or a very poor signal. If I somehow managed to increase the strength of it (changing the router, using other firmware, etc.), would my notebook or phone be able to use that connection?

I might be very wrong, but I am thinking it would solve just half of the problem, since any device using that connection would have to "speak back" to the access point, and since the device signal strength hasn't been improved, it wouldn't be able to do it due to the obstacles that previously made it get a low signal.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 1 down vote accepted

You are right about the problem, but there are still steps that you can take.

The easiest way to increase the router's signal is to pass to channel 11, which is the strongest. Changing the channel might also solve the problem if there is interference in that part of the house coming from your neighbor's router, but not if the problem comes from walls or an electrical appliance.

See the following article for some solutions: 10 tips for improving your wireless network

  1. Position your wireless router (or wireless access point) in a central location
  2. Move the router off the floor and away from walls and metal objects (such as metal file cabinets)
  3. Replace your router's antenna
  4. Replace your computer's wireless network adapter
  5. Add a wireless repeater
  6. Change your wireless channel
  7. Reduce wireless interference
  8. Update your firmware or your network adapter driver
  9. Pick equipment from a single vendor
  10. Upgrade 802.11b devices to 802.11g

For more detail helping to decide which tip to apply, please read the article.

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Thanks. My question was kind of hypotetical really. I was wondering if I could get a connection further from the router using something like this: linksysbycisco.com/UK/en/products/HGA7S and started wondering if the device signal strength wouldn't make it impossible. But it seems that it also increases router sensitivity for incoming signals, making it possible to have a long range connection. –  NachoCual Sep 25 '10 at 20:50

+1 for Harrymc's answer, especially the first three. Increasing the output power of your current transmitter is most likely illegal though enforcement will vary a lot by where you live.

Besides the legal aspect there's also a security issue. It's not always a bad thing that your signal doesn't go (far) outside your house. Wifi snooping is rampant and you'll never know if the snooper can sit 1/2 a mile away and pick up your illegally boosted signal. If your signal is legal (weak) he might have to park in front of your house to get it.

I'm not paid to be paranoid these days but old habits die hard.

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If your laptop can pick up the signal after increasing the signal strength on the router, and successfully connect to it, that means it can communicate with it just fine. Chances are your laptop may be equipped with wireless-n while the router is only wireless-g. Placing of antennas and polarization can also make a big difference.

Since you haven't told us the spec of either device, we can only guess :)

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