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I recently moved into a new house and have very poor wireless in my room. I currently keep my wireless router (Linksys E1000 with DD-WRT) in the living room as this is where most of our browsing takes place. I am not sure about why things are slow: it could either be the distance from my room to the living room (the wireless in the living room works fine but gets worse as we move away from it), or interference from other networks (there are multiple networks nearby, though changing the channel does not seem to help).

In this case, I am not able to change the location of my primary router, or setup a wired network. I have also tried (without success) to setup a MoCA network and a parabolic reflector ( as described in this post ). As such, I think that my only two options are to:

  1. Buy a more powerful router. My current router uses Wireless N, but I suppose that I can get a router that is simultaneous dual-band (will this help?) or one that is AC-compatible (don't think this will help, since most of my devices are not AC-compatible).

  2. Place a series of DD-WRT routers between the living room and my room as Wireless Range Extenders (this is easy to do, but I'm not sure about the speed implications).

I am wondering:

  • Which option is more likely to be faster and allow me to get high internet speeds in my room
  • Is there any slow down in using wireless range extenders? If so, why?
  • If 1 is the fastest option, then I would appreciate any recommendations for routers that are DD-WRT compatible.
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You haven't isolated that it's poor signal that's causing slow speeds. You've mentioned interference as well. Do some investigation to determine what the root cause of your slowness is before picking a solution. –  ernie Aug 1 '13 at 22:18
    
Are the internet speeds any better with an ethernet connection? Run a speed test in your room using the wireless connection and then using an ethernet connection. It's not clear from your question whether you're not satisfied with your network speed or your internet connection bandwith or both. –  archery1234 Aug 1 '13 at 22:33
    
You can also set a PLC solution that uses your already installed power grid for transmitting ethernet. –  Braiam Aug 1 '13 at 22:42
    
@archery1234 I've done this actually. The root cause is definitely the wireless network. Things are much better with an ethernet connection but extending it to my room is not practical. –  Berk U. Aug 2 '13 at 0:01
    
OK. There are tools to do scans to check what wi-fi channels are being used. You can then select a less congested one on your router. If you've done that then the only other simple things I would suggest are checking for any updated drivers for your wi-fi card, a firmware update on the router and repositioning router+laptop for optimal performance. If you've done all this then it would be a range extender, powerline networking or try a new router as you've mentioned. –  archery1234 Aug 2 '13 at 0:10

2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

You should start with a good quantitative analysis of what's going on with your WiFi. There's a number of tools out there you can use to accomplish this. My favorites are inSSIDer and WiFi Heat for Android. I'd stick with a mobile device so you can easily run around and check your signal.

Signal Strength and Neighboring WiFi

The first thing to look for is signal strength and nearby WiFi:

enter image description here

If you see any APs overlapping, then they're overlapping! There's some spill over between channels, so make sure you've got plenty of room between them.

Next, look at your signal strength. In my experience, -70 isn't that bad. Obviously, the higher the better. If you're down at -90, then it's a pretty poor signal. However, I've seen -94 function perfectly well with wireless-N. It dropped out now and then, but the bandwidth was just fine.

Boosting WiFi

If in fact your signal is bad, how can you fix it?

Repeater

I've had awful experience using a WRT54G with DD-WRT as a repeater. It did nothing. Just plain nothing. I even mapped it out using WiFi Heat.

Before repeater:

enter image description here

With repeater:

enter image description here

Your mileage may vary. I've used a couple other repeaters, and while I didn't dive as deep in to the numbers, I can definitely say they did little to nothing for my signal.

WDS

I changed the router to WDS mode and stuck it in the Windows of my bedroom. This was the result:

enter image description here

That's a whole extra AP on top of the first one. It's up to the client device to choose which one to use. I have seen consumer "repeater" devices perform this exact function. They tend to perform markedly better.

WDS can be a real pain to setup though. Hardware has to be compatible, and it can be finicky. Honestly, as great as it is, if you can avoid it I would.

Do the simple stuff first

Where's your wireless router located now? Do you know which direction the signal is going? Nothing boosted my signal more than lifting my router 5ft off the ground and pointing it the right direction (which happened to be with the antennas flat and the unit mounted on the wall.) Play with the location and orientation of the router as much as you can.

If you can run an cable anywhere that's closer to your room, it might be worth simply setting up another access point. You can also give PLC a try.

DD-WRT is a pain

If you do want to attempt a DD-WRT repeater/WDS setup, you're in for a lot of reading and research. I'd read the DD-WRT wikis very thoroughly. And if you want to try WDS, I would recommend buying two identical routers.

Good luck.

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Thank you for the informative post! Some follow-up questions: 1. How did you produce those pictures? 2. I am assuming that if I ditch DD-WRT and stick to a Router+Extenders solution then that should get WDS to work, right? 3. Is there a PLC solution you recommend? –  Berk U. Aug 2 '13 at 0:08
    
1) I made the pics using WiFi Heat. It's a lot of fun. 2) Maybe. :) Consumer grade wireless is a pain too. Research your products and make sure you're getting what you want. It might not say WDS on the package. It's really a trade of between a supported product, or DD-WRT hackery. +1 to Keltari though, a high gain antenna could very well solve your problem. –  Tanner Aug 2 '13 at 14:08

It sounds like all you need is a high gain antenna. You do not need to get the expensive ones, the cheaper ones ($20-$40) range work just fine. I have one of these and it works great. I have full strength in my entire house and can pick up WiFi networks from a decent distance away.

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