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From the author of Router-Based Options

Router-Based Options

Interference and such out of the way, let’s look at the source of the wireless signal for your home network—your wireless router. It’s a fact that some routers have a longer range than others. That’s partly a factor of which wireless standard the router uses, and of the construction of the router itself.

All of today’s wireless networks use a type of radio frequency (RF) transmission called Wi-fi (short for wireless fidelity). Wi-fi is a consumer-friendly name for what is formally known as the IEEE 802.11 wireless networking standard.

But here's the thing. There isn't a single Wi-fi protocol. Instead, there are multiple 802.11 protocols, each designated by a single-letter suffix. And—here’s what really matters—different versions of Wi-Fi offer different levels of performance, especially in terms of transmission range.

The two versions of Wi-fi in common use today are 802.11g and 802.11n. The g version is the older of the two, and can typically transmit up to 100 feet or so. Wireless-n routers are newer and have a longer transmission range, up to 325 feet or so. (Wireless-g networks transmit exclusively in the 2.4 GHz RF band; wireless-n networks can transmit in the 2.4 GHz band or the less-cluttered 5 GHz band.)

So if you have an older 802.11g router that isn’t delivering a strong enough signal at long distances, try upgrading to an 802.11n model. Just make sure that all your wireless devices—your notebook PC, Wi-Fi-enabled mobile phone, and wireless adapters connected to desktop PCs—are capable of receiving 802.11n signals; otherwise, they’ll still be limited to the shorter 802.11g range.

Not all routers of a given type are created equal, however. Some 802.11n routers have a longer range than do others. (Typically, less expensive routers have a shorter range.) Compare the specs of one router to those of another; you may find that upgrading to a higher-end router will give you the needed range boost.

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