Tips on choosing the best location for your equipment.
When optimizing your existing equipment, consider:
- Placing antennas in a good location, at a good angle.
- Avoiding physical things that block signals.
- Reducing interference from other things that transmit radio waves.
If your network has more than a couple wireless devices, decide which wireless devices are transmitting the heaviest load: These links are important to optimize. The least important links have less frequent traffic.
Pick good locations for antennas
Antennas should be in line-of-sight with one another, where possible. Put your face next to one antenna to see whether the other is visible.
- Place antennas high, and as clear of obstructions as is practical.
- Keep antennas two feet from metal fixtures such as sprinklers, pipes, metal ceiling, reinforced concrete, and metal partitions.
- Keep away from large amounts of water such as fish tanks and water coolers.
- Antennas transmit weakly at the base, where they connect, so don't expect good reception from the bottom of a router or access point.
Avoid windows unless communicating between buildings. Windows let in interference from the outside world.
Place antennas away from various electromagnetic noise sources, especially those in the 2400 – 2500 MHz frequency band. Common noise-creating sources are:
- Computers and fax machines (place wireless equipment no closer than 1 foot).
- Copying machines, elevators and cell phones (no closer than 6 feet).
- Microwave ovens (no closer than 10 feet).
Simple spacing of channels
Improving signal strength is not like adding more lights to get a brighter living room. Devices that transmit powerfully — such as routers, access points, and cell phone base stations — can confuse one another. It's necessary to distance them and to have them use different channels.
For 802.11b and 802.11g, there are 11 channels for wireless equipment (13 channels in Europe). In the simple situation where there's little interference, you can choose any channel that works for you. When there is interference from wireless networks that overlap with one another, each network should use one of the non-overlapping channels: 1, 6, or 11 (1, 7, 13 in Europe). Then, three networks can use the same space with minimum interference. If you can't do that, choose channels as widely spaces as possible.
You can use a combination of access points and antennas and other equipment to create local "spotlights" of strong transmission, rather than trying to cover everywhere.
What if a channel you want to use has too much noise (interference)?
If your neighbor has a wireless network, it wouldn't be surprising if they were already using channel 1 and channel 11. Unfortunately, you can't completely avoid interference just by using other channels. Wireless protocols 802.11b and 11g only have three non-overlapping channels. Therefore when four or more channels are used in the same area, the level of interference can increase notably. For example, if you and your close neighbor both have a router and a wireless access point — which makes a total of four powerful transmitters — both of you will have a certain amount of interference.
If there's a severe problem, a practical and sociable thing is to talk to your neighbors using wireless networks that can be seen when you scan. Together, you can choose optimal channels for your respective networks. You'll want your own channels at least five apart. So, for example, you could use channels 1 and 8, your neighbor could use 5 and 11.
You may be able to place routers and access points further away inside your homes. After all, the kinds of physical barriers that reduce your transmission range also reduce the signal that your neighbor doesn't want to see.
Using a Netgear router?
For more detailed information and advanced troubleshooting, go to http://kb.netgear.com.