Home WiFi hot spots, may have dead zones where you can't work -- till you install a range extender.
Bangalore, September 22 2014: You just bought a WiFi router for your home -- or your broadband service provider installed one. Your family looks forward to surf the Internet on multiple devices, using this single connection: on your home PC, your laptop, your spouse's or kid's tablet -- and on all your phones. Then you realize your home is not that the seamless WiFi hotspot you were led to believe: the network is fine in the drawing room but in your bedroom, or out on the balcony, the signal is so week you can even open the browser without waiting for ages.
This is a common problem even in fairly small apartments, because the modern home is about the worst environment for wireless communication: steel rods inside the concrete, steel almirahs and steel furniture all over the place, the kitchen a source of spiky electrical disturbances from mixers, grinders, washing machines... Any one of these is enough to severely curtail the strength and quality of your WiFi network. Most of us just live with the problem, sacrificing the ability to surf anywhere, anytime -- which was the whole point of going wireless!
But technology and help is at hand which will restore broadband wireless all over the house, driving away the dark zones and the dead spots.
First, check if the main wireless router that your broadband provider installed, is a contemporary model. There was a time when WiFi speeds were characterized by the letters a,b or g placed at the end of the WiFi standard 802.11. Those are all history. Today, a router rated for anything less than 802.11n is obsolete. Even this has been superseded by 802.11ac standard that is three times faster than the 'n'. If you are buying your own router, go for an 'ac'. Remember, though, that if you are using a PC, the Wireless Network Adaptor you plug into the USB port must match the speed of the router -- 'n' for 'n;, 'ac' for 'ac', otherwise the connection speed will fall to the lower of the two.
Any dead zone or low signal strength you encounter may well vanish by the simple solution of upgrading the primary router. But if it persists, it is time for Plan B: Go in for a WiFi Extender.
Some models have been launched in India recently:
- Savera Marketing has launched the Edimax N300, touted as the world's smallest device in this class. It works fine if your network is already of the a/b/g/n type and you want to extend it rather than invest in a costlier type 'ac' router. It costs Rs 3999.
- Netgear has launched the AC750 Gigabit Wifi Extender and as its name indicates, it is made for 'ac' routers though it will also work with slower 'n' routers. It is a dual band device supporting both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands. The advantage is, one band can connect to the router, while the other connects to the PC or laptop, resulting in a faster to-and-fro of data. The AC 750 is priced at Rs 6999 but we saw it being offered for Rs 5000 up by online sites. Avoid Netgear's earlier 'n' models -- WN2500RP and 3500RP -- unless seriously strapped for cash.
- D-Link has a number of models, of which the N300 is easily available in India for around Rs 3000. They launched an AC 750 model globally in January, but we could not find it with India pricing.
All the models listed here plug directly into a power socket and should be placed half way between your router and your 'dead zone'. They will work with other makes of routers as well. The set up is very easy. The improvement will be immediate.
Banish those dark zones and surf easy! -- Anand Parthasarathy
We have a representative video in our Home page Tech Video spot ( from Netgear). You can search and find specific YouTube videos for any model you prefer.