I live in a rather congested wifi neighborhood, there are strong active wifi signals in every house in front and back and next door etcetera. Our wireless routers have all sat next to the exterior wall through which the Cox coax comes through, and for about ten years, through three different wireless router upgrades, I relied on an aluminum flashing sheet placed between the wall and the wireless router, to keep everything as good as possible. Just one room away, line-of-sight through a double doorway without doors, I’d get 3-4 bars only without that sheet. This occurred even though I would check and usually change wifi channels every 3-6 months! The wireless-only Roku is in that room next door, so problems are easy to spot.
Anyway, about a year and a half ago it was wireless-router-buying time again (it has been historically a matter of frustration factor…), and I bought one of these off of eBay:
Initially it was simply a nice, reasonably well-behaved, one-notch improvement over the previous, like all of my previous upgrades. It’s recommendable, but not the purpose of this article. I got four solid bars to the next room over despite the neighborhood, using the flashing, which is what I expected. Still only 2-3 to the bedroom to my sweet wife’s tablet, and worse upstairs. And then I remembered something. Some years before I had bought this pair:
which are standard +9 Dbi wifi antennas, for $20. I had bought them and then realized my router of the time did not have removables. They fit this one. I bought one more, a +12 DBi, to make it three. The originals were the usual stubbies about six inches long, these are more like fourteen.
Five bars in line of sight. Four bars steady everywhere else in the house, including upstairs, and just outside. No flashing anymore. And I haven’t had cause to check wifi environment at all since the better antennas went in.
Wifi devices that have removable antennas, use a very standard connector for those antennas. There are rare exceptions, but the standard is very widespread, especially for indoor models. I will not be buying wireless routers without removable antennas ever again if I have any say in it, and we’ll see if I ever need to replace these antennas!
Here is a very good comprehensive step-by-step discussion:
Mac is listed first, but Windows is well-discussed after, a Linux command-line (!) method is nicely explained afterward, and Android and iPhone afterwards.
The only item I might suggest, is that the 5 GHz band can sometimes produce far better performance, depending on many factors, including the makeup of walls, if and only if both the WAP and all client devices support 5 GHz. I don’t buy or recommend WAPs which do either/or though, just both, and on a client, if I get 4 bars with 5 GHz and 5 bars with 2.4 GHz, I generally see better throughput on the 5 GHz.
Try LinSSID. Graphical, 2.4GHz and 5GHz, and works very nicely. It is in many distro default repositories.
is an excellent tool for analyzing the local wireless environment from a laptop.
And here is a good one for Android:
And try the “Network Analyzer Lite” for iOS, it’s free. The one below is not:
Any WAP or wireless router, to connect reliably to Apple products, needs to support a QoS-based standard called WMM. Most if not all current Netgear products do support this. Others are not listing it one way or another. Some vendors list something called “movie mode”, but this writer has not been able to confirm whether this is real WMM, despite a discussion with vendor support.
For many WAPs, the following procedure is a good way to assure a reset to firmware defaults. There is, reportedly, a ‘recovery mode’ into which the below can send some ASUS WAPs, but for most it’s just an authoritative reset.
- Plug the WAP into power but not network.
- Wait until its lights stabilize.
- Press and hold the reset button for 30 seconds. Do not let up the button…
- Unplug the WAP and continue to hold reset for another 30 seconds…
- Still holding the reset button in, plug the unit back into power, and hold reset for 30 more seconds.
Many WAPs will respond with a ‘waiting’ or ‘working’ indicator, which means that the WAP is in the process of setting all configurations to default. Once that’s done, it’s ready to be set up again.