The Benefits Of Better Reception

Why does the internet take so long to load? This is a question that can have many answers, including the quality of the signal that comes from network devices. Wireless devices all have antennae to send and receive signals but not all are created equal.

Wireless cards in laptops come in two main varieties. Internal cards reside either on the motherboard as an embedded chip or attach right to it. Laptop antennae are usually just wire that runs around the monitor to pick up signals. Unfortunately, this usually results in poor reception. External cards plug into a computer using either a USB connection or the more aesthetic PCMCIA slot.

Reception is the ability to receive the signal, however, some techniques involve extending the signal from its source. Before extending any signal, wireless security should be considered.

Which Antenna Is Best?

The antenna is an important factor when considering how far reception will extend. Choosing the right antenna relies on how the signal will be received. Some antennae are directional, and others are Omni-directional.

Antenna Variety

Yagi: A Yagi antenna is directional, meaning that the direction the antenna is pointed will determine its efficiency. These can communicate for miles if placed outdoors in the proper location.

Parabolic: A parabolic antenna is just a satellite dish. Old satellite antennas can be re-purposed into antennas used for Wi-Fi. This is where the best gain and distance are to be found. The biggest weakness of a parabolic is in aiming it. The difference between an excellent signal and a poor one could be just a couple of degrees of rotation.

Patch Antenna: These are the directional antenna that is commonly found both indoor and outdoor.

Panel Antenna: These are very similar to the patch antenna but are bigger. They can be mounted both indoor and outdoor.

Why are these different types important? Deciding whether the antenna will need to be used outdoors is another important concern. A parabolic antenna wouldn’t be very efficient indoors when compared to its ability outdoors.

Prevent Wireless Interference

Interference can occur with any technology that uses radio signals as a means of communication. Many wireless technologies work in the 2.4 to 5 GHz range, which just happens to be the same as microwaves, cordless phones, and some baby monitors. Interference can be reduced with a few simple steps.

The first step that should be taken is to do a brief audit of the wireless devices you have around the house. If the internet is constantly dropping out, the problem could be with one of these devices. If this is the case, the offending device will have to be found.

If interference is an issue, sometimes changing the channel can help. Just like with a radio, there are different channels that can be tuned in. For example, on the radio 104.5, 104.6, and 104.7 are all different channels. Technically they’re different frequencies.

If there was a radio station on each of these frequencies, and they were in close proximity to each other there would be a lot of interference for their listeners. This can happen with Wi-Fi in the same way. All neighbors and appliances within a quarter-mile could be competing for the same air space. To change the channel, simply login to the router configuration screen and change it.

Many routers use the same channel by default. If everyone on the block has Charter internet with a router provided by them, it’s likely that all channels are configured the same. Even the default username and password are likely to be the same.

Remove Any Physical Barriers

While radio signals can pass through many objects, it loses power each time it does. This means that if the router is in one room and the user is in another, a bad signal could be a result of the physical barriers between the two.

To see if this is an issue, try moving the devices around. Start with the mobile device, since it will be easier. Just walk around with it, keeping track of how the signal reacts. A great program for testing this is Airmon-ng. It’s a program designed for Linux, but can be used on Windows. I’d recommend using it with Linux. I use Backtrack, or Kali because the program is built-in. If Linux isn’t available right away, a copy can be downloaded for free and ran from the DVD drive or USB stick.