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What is the best range achievable by wireless

Posted on 2010-09-10
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Last Modified: 2012-06-27
Hi Guys,

I have a client that wishes to get Wifi in the far end of his house, he currently has a D-Link 2640 router which basically will not reach this far.  The house is pretty big and he needs WiFi about 25-30 meters from the router.  I said he would be best upgrading to Wireless N as this offers better range and potentially Wireless N on Dual band hardware. Basically the house is pretty nice and so running cables is not really an option.

Does anyone have any ideas on the best hardware to use or setup for this kind of distance.

I was looking at maybe D-Link 2740R as it has the built in ADSL Modem but I guess it would be just as easy to hook up a non adsl wireless n router to the current ADSL wireless g router.

Best regards,
Dave
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Question by:satandave
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Jakob Digranes earned 250 total points
ID: 33645320
You should be covered by basically standard home router stuff.
The range is hard to calculate, as it is many factors to take in considerations.
- free space loss - the signal will deter in strength in free air
- and glass, concrete and other types of walls and obstacles tend to create signal loss
- many kinds of other home equipment will also create interference, especially microwave ovens, wireless phones, even refridgerators and air conditioning ---
But 25 - 30 meters is generally not far, is it horizontal or vertically?
the range is better vertically when antennas are upright, since they're omni-directional

Look into 802.11n equipment with multiple radios (MiMo) - they wil better interpret signal and have a better range, you might look into 802.11a/n equipment. The 802.11a has shorter range than 802.11b/g due to higher frequency, but the band has less interference, and might have less signal loss than 802.11b/g, thus making it reach further.

Start with doing a site survey, download inSSIDer from www.metageek.net and see how many other WiFi networks are within reach, and choose channels that's not in use.
Do you have a 802.11b/g router now? remember that only channels 1, 6 and 11 don't overlap.
So if your neighbors use channel 1 and 6 - you need to use 11, if three neighbours use channel 1 and two neighbours use channel 11 and one neighbour use channel 6 - look at signal strength at the different networks, but generally - look into channel 6

But if you need really powerful stuff:
http://www.ubnt.com/powerapn
http://www.ubnt.com/airrouter
http://www.ubnt.com/airwire

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by:satandave
ID: 33645432
Hi Jakob,

Well the router is located in his office at one end of the house on a first floor and he requires the WiFi at the other end of the house, basically room above quad garage.  So they are roughly on the same level but will have to travel through maybe two outside walls.  I have checked with them and they do not operate any other wireless type devices.  The main part of the house is quite open plan between the office and the garage.

The door to the garage is pretty much direct line of sight from the office and with his current wireless G router and built in wireless g adapter in the laptop he can get 4Mb connection at the garage door but only in direct line of site, if he steps out of line of site connection is lost.  The laptop would however be about another 10 meters away from this location.

There should not be any interference from other wireless networks as these are all big houses with large drives and gardens so I would think that this would rule out other networks being in range.

Do you have any ideas which manufactures have the best wireless N equipment for this kind of home scenerio eg. D-Link/Netgear/Belkin/Linksys

regards,
Dave
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by:mlongoh
ID: 33645654
I would recommend implementing a wireless repeater/extender about halfway between where the current router is and where you want the coverage.  You don't need to look into wireless-n in this scenario if the current speeds of G are acceptable - in essence you would just be extending the signal.  I would recommend a Netgear device over a D-Link or Linksys, but that's my personal preference.
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by:mlongoh
ID: 33645757
There's another option, and that's looking into a wireless signal booster, depending on the age of the existing router.  Years ago when I had a Linksys wireless G router, which had an external antenna, I bought a Hawking signal booster which basically raised the radio's send and receive strength dramatically.  Since then though routers have the stronger signal radios built in, so the requirement isn't as high.

So I would check the current router's specifications regarding the radio's power, and if it's below 500mw then I'd look at replacing it with a stronger one or augmenting it with a booster (if possible) or my previous suggestion of a repeater/extender.

I suggested Netgear, but honestly the course I would take is to find products from all the manufacturer names that you recognize (Cisco/Linksys, Netgear, Belken, D-Link) and check reviews on seller sites like Amazon to help make the decision.
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by:Rick_O_Shay
ID: 33646215
Have you considered using an external antenna on the laptop vs using the one built in? That alone may give you enough gain in this environment.
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by:satandave
ID: 33661411
Thanks for all the answers guys.

I am going to do a site survey this afternoon with a wireless N router I have and wireless n dongle and see how it pans out.

He had tried using a range extender but it did not work, he had the manufacturer support guy try and talk him through it but as his router is talk talk they had changed the firmware and I believe this made it incompatible and he had already sent it back so I could not test it.

I was also thinking about home plug adapters and an access point if the wireless n test fails.  Has anyone had any experience setting up the home plug hardware.  I presume you would just plug one adapter into the mains by router and plug router into that and then another in the room where the ap is and just plug that into the homeplug adapter and away you go.
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by:mlongoh
ID: 33661892
If you're asking about passing data over electrical wiring, I believe that  it only works only if the outlets that you want to act as data conduits are on the same circuit, which puts them all on the same wire.  If the outlets are on separate circuits then I don't think you'll get it to work.
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by:satandave
ID: 33670027
Ok so I went over to do the site survey with my Virgin Media D-Link Wireless N Router and Netgear RangeMax Wireless N Dongle and laptop running inSSIDer.

There was only one other Wireless network in range and on a different channel.  I could get a connection at the location required but it did drop off and the signal strength would fluctuate between 1 bar and no bars.

He definitely wants wireless and feels it best to upgrade to latest Wireless N, so I was thinking along the lines of the Wireless N Dual Band Router and Dongle and maybe an extender as well to make sure he has good coverage of the entire house.

Now is the fun part of deciding what hardware to purchase for him, I know a lot of this is down to  personal preference.  However if anyone knows of or uses Wireless N and can recommend some Dual Band kit it would be most appreciated.  In the meantime its onto google and see what the reviews say.  
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by:satandave
ID: 33670551
Well looking around a bit the Netgear DGND3300-100UKS ADSL Modem Dual Band Wireless-N Router and Netgear WNDA3100 RangeMax Dual Band Wireless-N Adapter look like they could do the job without an extender.  Saying that it doesn't look like there are many Dual Band extenders out on the market yet.
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by:mlongoh
mlongoh earned 250 total points
ID: 33671264
I have a Netgear WNDR3700 which has 8 internal antennas and it works great for my needs, though I don't think I have to deal with the same distance you're dealing with.  I have dual band because the 5Ghz is used for video (my Blu-Ray player is networked as is my Popcorn Hour media player and both are connected to a wireless bridge on the 5Ghz network) and the 2.4Ghz is used for data.  
Just to be clear, wireless N is just an evolved  MIMO implementation of wireless G (2.4Ghz) and wireless A (5Ghz).  Dual band gives you both radios operating at the same time in the unit, but the 5Ghz radio has limited range compared to the 2.4Ghz (which is true when comparing wireless A to B/G - it's the FCC limitations of the frequency).  I haven't seen an implementation that allows a single device (like a laptop) to utilize both frequencies at the same time - if the laptop has a dual-band wireless adapter, it will connect to one or the other but not both at the same time.  And since you have a distance issue, I don't see you using the 5Ghz band in this implementation.

I suspect that you would be better served to search for a high power/high gain 2.4Ghz wireless N solution given the distance (it can be made to work and I believe that you can go as high as 1000mW).  I would suggest you give Hawking Technologies a look.  While I haven't used their router products, I have used their signal booster to great satisfaction, and if you can find a device that has high gain/power and does MIMO  (wireless N) then you'll probably be covered without dropouts.  Just my 2 cents.

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by:mingano
ID: 33759071
Try an Engenius ECB9500.  Coupled with Hawking antennas per above you should be good to go.
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by:mlongoh
ID: 33846243
Checking the Router Status on my router indicates that both radios are operating with "Up to 300Mbps" but I don't see anything to indicate what the radio connection speeds actually are.
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by:satandave
ID: 33902895
Well just to update you all on the situation I have now sorted this as follows:

1) I installed a NETGEAR DGND3300 ADSL2+ Router in the clients home office where the Internet connection is.
2) I then installed a D-Link DAP-1360 Wireless-N Access Point (Configured as a repeater) in the Utility room next to the garage.
3) This coupled with a Netgear WNDA3100 RangeMax USB Adapter on the client laptop he now has full wireless access in his games room above the garage and can also now connect his PS3 as well.

I first connected the D-Link to the Laptop to configure this as a repeater and then configured the Netgear Router as the Master Bast station and added the D-Link to it as a trusted repeater using the MAC address of the D-Link.  I did try connecting the units using the Push connect but this failed and the D-Link seemed to timeout/crash so I reset iot and configured manually.

Thanks for all your help and advice.
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