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My house is kind of long-ish, and I need wireless coverage across the whole house. I have 4 roommates, and our rooms are all at opposite ends of the house. The cable modem can't be moved. Running ethernet cables isn't really an option, but many of the devices on the network sit right next to each other. I'm quite willing to throw both money and time at the problem.

Devices on the network:

  • Several laptops
  • Several smartphones
  • Airport Express
  • XBox 360

Current router is an Airport Extreme. Airport Express is set up to extend the network. The router was originally next to the cable modem, but the signal was terrible because the oven was on the other side of the wall. Giant chunks of steel have unusually good signal-blocking properties. Router now lives in the kitchen, but the signal-to-noise ratio is still pretty poor, and every once in a while, pings to the router spike to 25 seconds for awhile. There are cordless phones in the house, and about 30 other wireless networks visible, so I can only imagine that there's a great deal of interference.

Are there any reliable, high-power (say, 400-1000 mw) dual-band 802.11n routers out there with replaceable external antennae that will run DD-WRT/Tomato/OpenWRT/FreeWRT? Or is there a better solution?

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do you mean 25 milliseconds? 25 seconds should never happen.. unless maybe this 'extend the network' mode puts the device into a 'store and forward' mode. This will do more harm than good and should be disabled. –  user23307 Jan 10 '10 at 22:09

2 Answers 2

I'm quite willing to throw both money and time at the problem.

For the 'money' part of your question:

I have very good experiences with Hawking Range Extenders to bridge a distance or improve coverage in remote areas.

For the 'time' part of your question:

You may want to do a site survey to find the best spots where to use a range extender: Ekahau HeatMapper is a free software tool for quick and easy coverage mapping of Wi-Fi (802.11) networks. It's the only free, easy-to-use tool that shows, on a map, the wireless network coverage in your home or small office. HeatMapper also locates all access points. HeatMapper also provides a real-time view to all access points and their configurations.

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If WiFi is getting overloaded or the range you have to travel is too far, you may want to consider Powerline Ethernet adapters, here is some from Netgear, you can have the far side be wired or wireless. I believe wired is always better, but that usually only works well for non-mobile devices. You can also hookup multiple endpoints so everyone can have their own connection or put a WiFi point in a common area.

Aside from loading a third party firmware on your router to boost output, there are WiFi amplifiers like Hawking HSB2. Keep in mind that increasing the power out of the WiFi router may not mean the router can receive the signals back. For that you may need to get a higher gain antenna. Adding repeaters like Molly suggested may be more practical and flexible then the amplifiers and antennas.

Hope this tip helps.

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Powerline adapters look be the best way to go about doing this. Its essentially like wiring your house with ethernet cables, except they are already there! As Scott said things like the 360 can be hooked up with a cable which will reduce the load on the w/l. And you can add powerline wireless hotspots throughout the house so there is always a good reception. –  Connor W Jan 10 '10 at 23:03

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