Thursday, 26 September 2013

Wireless Problems

At work, one of the most common issues we have are down to poor wireless connections and quite often the poor old router gets the blame. A lot of these issues are irrespective of whether you have a cable or ADSL connection and can be traced to local interference, building construction or poor location of the router.

Most routers with built in antennae (ones you can't see), have a radiation pattern that is similar to a dome but the signal doesn't extend downwards, this is why a lot of after market routers have external antennae on them, you shouldn't line them up so they look pretty, the idea is to have one horizontal, one vertical and another diagonal or similar to get signals travelling in all directions. From this, you can see that if you have your router installed upstairs then your downstairs connection is probably not going to be that good.

Don't put the router behind the TV, all you will do is knock the signal levels down, put it out in the open somewhere so it gets a good view of your house.

If you have a games console, smart TV or desktop, forget about wireless connection, spend £30.00 or so on powerline adaptors instead, PC World do them and other computer stores are available, here's a link to one of the products.

Games console controllers normally use Bluetooth which runs in the same frequency band as your WiFi signal, this means interference and a poorer connection, smart TVs are normally wall mounted, the antenna is receiving electrical interference from it's own electronics and the wall behind it is also blocking the signal and then there's desktops, they are normally on the floor, they are a big lump of metal and they block radio signals. Just put an Ethernet lead in or get a powerline adaptor in all these cases.

The other problems you can get are down to interference, I've lost count of the amount of times I've been told by people that best channel to select is 1, 6 or 11 as these are going to be the clearest, they won't be if everybody listens to this bit of advice. If you have Vista or later then a fairly simple command line will list the channels in use in your immediate area, just open up a command prompt and type:

netsh wlan show networks mode=bssid.

This will show all the networks your computer can see and the channels they use, try and pick a channel that's about 2 channels away from one of these. For example, if there's a network on channel 8, go for 6 or 10. If after changing the channel you find that you can no longer connect by wireless, you are going to need to connect up to your router with an Ethernet cable to try a different channel or carry out a factory reset.

If you have an android device, there's an app called WiFi Analyzer, it's free and will show you what's happening in your area.

Baby alarms, microwave cookers are things that can also generate interference and reduce or stop your wireless connection, brick walls, foil lined walls (for heat loss), water (as in fish tanks or water storage tanks) will do the same as will old stone walls.

Basically, wireless is an added free extra with your broadband and can never be guaranteed to work in all parts of your home with one router, no matter who the Internet provider is.

If your devices and router support it, connect to the 5GHz network, there's more bandwidth here and you should see less buffering in high definition content.

Other connection problems can be caused by outdated drivers, especially with Atheros chips, firewall problems, unwanted wireless manager software and sometimes the router just needs a restart as it's unable to dish out any more IP addresses.

Remember, all broadband providers give you wireless as a free extra, speeds on wireless are generally slower than a wired connection and are more troublesome.

The last thing I should mention is related to Internet connections in general, if you have a 20Mb connection and have one device connected, you will get speeds of 20Mb, if you have two devices connected and they are both working as hard as each other, your bandwidth will be split between these devices so 10Mb per connection.

I have generalised a little bit here but try and follow some of these tips and you should find that you should have a bit less hassle with your connection.

I hope this has been of some use.