Wire­less sig­nal block­ers

IS YOUR WI-FI SIG­NAL NOT UP TO SNUFF? IT MAY BE SOME­THING IN YOUR HOUSE.

TechLife Australia - - WELCOME - [ NATHAN TAY­LOR ]

THERE’S A CER­TAIN amount of art to build­ing the per­fect wire­less net­work. To get the best out of your net­work, it’s not just about get­ting the right hard­ware. Even the best hard­ware can’t defy the laws of physics – and that’s where a lit­tle en­gi­neer­ing and plan­ning will be re­quired on your part.

If you’re hav­ing prob­lems get­ting your wire­less net­work up to snuff, if the hard­ware isn’t de­liv­er­ing the speeds you need or ex­pect, then per­haps it’s time to take a look at where the hard­ware is placed. There are ma­te­ri­als in your home that wire­less sig­nals just don’t like pass­ing through, and you need to make sure that such ma­te­ri­als aren’t lo­cated be­tween where you want set your router and where you want to use your wire­less de­vices.

So what are those ma­te­ri­als? Let’s take a look at the top con­tenders for wire­less sig­nal block­ing in your home. THE BIG BLOCK­ERS These ma­te­ri­als can se­verely im­pact speeds, or even stop Wi-Fi sig­nals dead in their tracks:

METAL

Metal lo­cated be­tween the router and re­ceiver will ab­sorb the wire­less sig­nals. This can in­clude metal­lic ap­pli­ances and TV sets, chicken wire (which is some­times em­bed­ded in the walls of older houses) and even metal-based paints. MIR­RORS A wire­less sig­nal can bounce right off a mir­rored sur­face.

CON­CRETE

The high den­sity of con­crete makes it hard for wire­less sig­nals to pass through. 20cm of con­crete or (es­pe­cially) re­in­forced con­crete ran re­duce sig­nal power by 50 deci­bels or more, which is enough to elim­i­nate many sig­nals en­tirely.

WA­TER

Although your house is (pre­sum­ably) not made of wa­ter, wa­ter-bear­ing ob­jects can cre­ate shad­ows in the wire­less sig­nal. If you put your router next to a fish tank, for ex­am­ple, you’re likely to get a big shadow in your wire­less re­cep­tion. Peo­ple, be­ing mostly wa­ter, also tend to block sig­nals (which is my putting your hand over your phone in a cer­tain way might se­verely im­pact Wi-Fi), so a sig­nal might have is­sues pass­ing through a high-traf­fic area.

THE MEDIUM BLOCK­ERS

These ones will re­duce per­for­mance, but the sig­nal will prob­a­bly be OK:

BRICK, MA­SONRY AND CE­RAMIC

Less dense than con­crete, these ma­te­ri­als can still have an im­pact on wire­less sig­nal per­for­mance, es­pe­cially if the wall or sur­face is quite thick.

LUM­BER

Thick, con­struc­tion-grade lum­ber is also quite dense and can have an ef­fect on per­for­mance. It won’t af­fect per­for­mance as much as brick or con­crete, but you might see some degra­da­tion.

ALTHOUGH YOUR HOUSE IS (PRE­SUM­ABLY) NOT MADE OF WA­TER, WA­TER-BEAR­ING OB­JECTS CAN CRE­ATE SHAD­OWS IN THE WIRE­LESS SIG­NAL. IF YOU PUT YOUR ROUTER NEXT TO A FISH TANK, FOR EX­AM­PLE, YOU’RE LIKELY TO GET A BIG SHADOW IN YOUR WIRE­LESS RE­CEP­TION.

THINGS THAT DON’T BLOCK SIG­NALS

These ma­te­ri­als barely have any ef­fect on Wi-Fi sig­nals at all:

DRYWALL AND PLAS­TER

Most in­ter­nal walls in your home will present few prob­lems to a wire­less sig­nal.

GLASS

Wi-Fi trav­els through glass roughly as well as light does, although stained glass can have some im­pact on it.

PLY­WOOD AND FUR­NI­TURE

Ply­woods of­fers lit­tle re­sis­tance to Wi-Fi. Since most fur­ni­ture is made of light fab­rics and wood, they also of­fer lit­tle re­sis­tance.

WHAT TO DO

So you’ve iden­ti­fied that there’s some ma­te­rial be­tween the router and the de­vice that’s pos­si­bly block­ing the sig­nal. What’s the best course of ac­tion to fix it?

MOVE THE WIRE­LESS ROUTER

This one’s the ob­vi­ous choice. If you can move the router to pro­vide a less ob­structed line be­tween it and the re­ceiv­ing de­vice, then you should do so. Of course, mov­ing the router isn’t al­ways an op­tion, or may cre­ate as many is­sues as it fixes.

USE A MESH NET­WORK

It used to be the case that ex­tend­ing an un­der­per­form­ing net­work was the hack­i­est of ex­er­cises, re­quir­ing clunky so­lu­tions in­volv­ing prim­i­tive range ex­ten­ders or sec­ondary ac­cess point that’s didn’t sup­port roam­ing and were fid­dly to set up.

No longer – there are a range of con­sumer mesh net­works that make fix­ing re­cep­tion prob­lems eas­ier than ever. So­lu­tions like Net­gear’s Orbi, Google Wifi, TP-Link Deco, Linksys Velop and Ubiq­uiti Am­pliFi al­low for the cre­ation of very sim­ple, very ac­ces­si­ble net­works.

Us­ing these mesh net­works, you can place mul­ti­ple ac­cess points to ex­tend range or di­rect sig­nals around cor­ners (since mesh net­works can re­lay through mul­ti­ple ac­cess points back to the router). Typ­i­cally they can be ex­tended with as many ac­cess points as you need to prop­erly cover your home.

Although the mesh point/satel­lite in a mesh net­work can re­lay data wire­lessly, the ideal sce­nario is to con­nect them with an Eth­er­net cable (per­haps run un­der the house or through the ceil­ing). This en­sures that there’s a strong sig­nal be­tween the mesh points. You can also use powerline net­work­ing to con­nect the mesh points, which works great when run­ning Eth­er­net isn’t an op­tion.

USE 2.4GHZ

Most cur­rent routers cre­ate two wire­less net­works: one in the 2.4GHz band and one in the 5GHz band. The 2.4GHz band is used for older 802.11n net­works, while the 5GHz band is used for faster 802.11ac net­works. As a rule, the 5GHz band is faster, as there’s more band­width to trans­mit in.

The thing is, the higher the fre­quency, the less well ra­dio sig­nals travel through ob­jects. So when there’s an ob­ject block­ing the sig­nal, it’s of­ten bet­ter to use 2.4GHz rather than 5GHz. 802.11n might be slower, but it’s of­ten more re­li­able, and you should give it a try – you might just find it’s fast enough for your needs.

ALTHOUGH YOUR HOUSE IS (PRE­SUM­ABLY) NOT MADE OF WA­TER, WA­TER-BEAR­ING OB­JECTS CAN CRE­ATE SHAD­OWS IN THE WIRE­LESS SIG­NAL. IF YOU PUT YOUR ROUTER NEXT TO A FISH TANK, FOR EX­AM­PLE, YOU’RE LIKELY TO GET A BIG SHADOW IN YOUR WIRE­LESS RE­CEP­TION.

Net­gear’s Orbi, a mesh net­work with some art deco flair.

The TP-Link Deco M5, one mesh so­lu­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.