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Visitor
susiekay1649
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎01-29-2011

Help with Signal Range Problems

OS Version: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium, Service Pack 1, 64 bit
Processor: Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Quad CPU Q8200 @ 2.33GHz, Intel64 Family 6 Model 23 Stepping 10
Processor Count: 4
RAM: 8191 Mb
Graphics Card: ATI Radeon HD 4350, 512 Mb
Hard Drives: C: Total - 701070 MB, Free - 469915 MB; D: Total - 14331 MB, Free - 1985 MB; N: Total - 953197 MB, Free - 267469 MB;
Motherboard: PEGATRON CORPORATION, Eureka3
Antivirus: Norton Security Suite, Updated and Enabled

Comcast Triple Play with UBEE modem.
*****
To the above, include:
1) A brand new Samsung U55D8000 Smart TV, not yet hooked up, in the family room.
2)Toshiba Thrive (32) tablet
3) Kindle Fire (16)
4) Netgear WNR1000v2 N150 router (currently working on above system, wired with UBEE modem to CPU, in office)
5) Linksys WRT 54Gv3 dual band router, virgin, not connected.
6) Hawking antenna (new, not connected)
7) Rosewill RNX-N150HG USB adapter (150Mbps) (new, not connected)
8) A 50 foot long, 1600sf brick ranch with family room addition on West end, on other side of original house brick wall, between house and garage but incorporated into house. 
9) Office on East end of building.
10) Xirrus is running at -68dBm, 802.11n in office.

How do I tie this all together so I can get better than a 'poor' rating on wireless signal in the family room, to be able to use the Smart TV in the family room. Last rating was over -90 out there.

Do I upgrade the Linksys firmware to3rd party firmware? Will it have great enough range? Do I go out and buy a new router? If so, what do you recommend?
Am I better off using the Netgear N150 and getting a range extender? What will work with this equipment?
The Hawking and the Rosewill are not hooked up at the moment; but when they were, my signal strength in the office was stellar. But no improvement in the family room whatsoever.

And at the same time, IPv6 is coming. I want to be able to stream movies uninterrupted, if possible, in the family room. Maybe surf the 'net on the TV, when browsers improve. So also have future needs to consider.

I'm sure that someone in this forum can point me in the right direction. At this stage, I've been working on this problem for a month and am pretty confused, between brand names, current equipment, and what's needed. I don't want to spend any more money until I have a layout that looks functional.
Thanks in advance for any help. And as for experience, I know just enough to get myself in trouble, but not out!  Old and creaky, not good at drilling holes in floors.

Networking Expert
Baric
Posts: 24,238
Registered: ‎07-28-2003

Re: Help with Signal Range Problems

[ Edited ]

Well, I assume you mean the problem is the brick wall between the house and family room, yes, with poor wireless signal on the other side of the wall?  Why not move the cable modem and router into that room and simply run an ethernet cable to the computer?  That would be the simplest solution.

 

That said, I don't recommend either of the routers you mention.  The Netgear is a very bottom of the pile model and is only useful in very basic, small setups.  The Linksys is a decent model, but it's very long in the tooth and it will likely have trouble with the brick wall.  I would recommend a decent wireless-N router like the Netgear WNDR4500 or Linksys E3200.  But even these models might have trouble with that wall depending on thickness, type of brick, other construction, etc.

 

The TV is wifi enabled so just use the connect it, the tablet and Kindle wirelessly.  In any case where a device supports an ethernet connection (like the TV), always favor that over wireless, but the downside is you need to run an ethernet cable which may or may not be an issue.

 

Alternatives to running a ethernet cable include powerline or MoCA adapters.  One allows you to use your house power wiring for networking, the other uses your coax for network access.

Visitor
susiekay1649
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎01-29-2011

Re: Help with Signal Range Problems


Baric wrote:

Well, I assume you mean the problem is the brick wall between the house and family room, yes, with poor wireless signal on the other side of the wall?  Why not move the cable modem and router into that room and simply run an ethernet cable to the computer? 

 

Yes, am assuming the brick wall is the problem but signal deteriorates, the further you get from my office going toward family room. And since modem and router are wired together, same problem exists - a 40 foot ethernet cable. Doesn't that add a whole lot of resistance to the signal? Not to mention the logistics of running it the length of my house. I'm not good at that. I might be able to get the cable from the computer to the basement, and across the basement ceiling to the pantry in the kitchen, but would have to run 2 cables and find a co-ax input at that spot.  And now I see that the Smart TV recommends wired setup. Yes, that's an issue. There's no basement under the family room - just an inaccessible crawl space with many mumbling mice.   I should be able to connect the TV wirelessly, but

same problem exists - poor signal.

 

So I kind of expected you to say the WRT54G is too old for effective addition to the system. My thought was to set it up as a repeater, until I found that the Netgear N150 doesn't have that function. Then I thought about switching them, using the 54 as main router for its better functions and using an access point in the kitchen - until I found that I'd still need to run a cable from office to kitchen. And I thought maybe the Hawkings antenna would enhance the signal. But that's a lot of maybe's.  I'm looking at the Linksys E4200v2, or Netgear WNDR4500, but needed some reassurance that's the direction to go. So you've confirmed the Netgear would be your suggestion. Is that the router that would be the equivalent of the solid reputation of the WRT54G?

 

So that leaves only a choice between powerline or coax. I think the family room is on a separate electric box than the rest of the house, so the MoCA adapter would probably be my first choice.  Can you suggest a specific adapter?  I haven't seen these, so assume they're attached somewhere in-line with the Comcast coaxial cable - possibly at the source?

 

And thank you, Baric, for your clear and concise breakdown and understanding of the situation in my home, and your logical approach to solutions. Much appreciated. 

 

 

Networking Expert
Baric
Posts: 24,238
Registered: ‎07-28-2003

Re: Help with Signal Range Problems

A 40ft ethernet cable is nothing (as long as it's decent quality) and you will see no noticable issues.  Ethernet cable runs can be up to 100 meters (325+ feet).  Ethernet is ALWAYS better than wireless links, but like you say the cable makes it inconvenient in many situations.

 

You can try the antennas on the WRT54G, but you're going to be limited to wireless G and I think you really want wireless N here, especially when streaming HD video content to the TV.  So I would just retire both routers and get a new, high performance wireless N model.  The Netgear WNDR4500 or the Linksys E4200v2 both fit that description.  You need a router anyway, so I would do this first.  Then try the wireless signal at the TV and other wireless devices to see if will sustain a connection and deliver enough speed to satify your needs.  If that works, you're done.

 

Now if the new wireless router is NOT enough (ie. the signal is still weak or the speed not enough for streaming HD content), then you can pursue other options.  The first thing I would try is running an ethernet cable. Yes, not the easiest thing to do based on your description, but you could hire a experienced electrician with data cabling expereince.  I know that's an extra cost, but it's one time and will provide you a huge range of connection options on the other side of the wall.  Other option is to run the cable outside the house, around the wall.  This is more complicated requiring special outdoor ethernet cabling, but it's something you might be able to do yourself.  Only you can determine what is feasible in your situation.

 

Now if that all sounds too complicated or expensive for you, you have other options like powerline adapters.  These adapters are used in pairs, you plug one into a power outlet on one side of the brick wall and another on the opposite side and connect an etherent cable from the router to one adapter and either a cable, ethernet switch, or WAP into the other adapter which provides the connectivity for the TV.  If you want use the TV wirelessly, you plug in a WAP (wireless access point) to provide a decent signal on that side of the wall and the ethernet cable to the powerline adapter runs back to the router.  This is one way large area wireless networks are constructed.  Many factors can effect powerline adapters, like wiring condition, type of power cable, issues at the circuit breaker/fuse box, but in many situations they work great and provide you with ethernet outlets anywhere you have a power outlet without having to run ethernet cable.

 

MoCA is the same general idea as powerline networking, but it uses coax wiring as opposed to power wiring.  So if you have coax outlets in the family room and they are connected back to the same place coax outlet where the cable modem is, you can use that.  MoCA can be more problematic, since it usually means you have to add at least one splitter (which degrades your coax signal).  Also a lot of house installed coax wiring is very substandard (old, poor cables, damaged cable, etc) and doesn't work well for networking, but it might in your situation.  The only way to know is try it.

 

Of the two, I would try the powerline stuff first unless you have active coax connections available and your HSI and cable TV signal is fine, it's pretty much a toss up.  Gear comes many manfacturers, I would stick with the big names like Netgear, etc.  The Netgear line is here.  You can buy them just about anywhere, Amazon, Newegg, Best Buy, etc.  Make sure you can return it if is doesn't work for you.

Visitor
susiekay1649
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎01-29-2011

Re: Help with Signal Range Problems

Thank you so much for the concise layout of options. I'm going to follow your suggestions exactly, and will let you know how it goes.  First job is the new router. I'm guessing you like the Netgear over the Linksys at this level, so that's where I'll start. What a wonderful thing it is to have your expertise available like this. I appreciate the time you must put in, solving network problems. You must love it. I'll be back as soon as the new router arrives, and I get rid of this miserable headcold, lol.

Visitor
susiekay1649
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎01-29-2011

Re: Help with Signal Range Problems

As promised, an update on range problems. Set up the new Netgear 4500 router and got a fair to good signal immediately in the family room. TV is now networked in via wi-fi. All is good. Thank you again for all the excellent advice!

Sue

Networking Expert
Baric
Posts: 24,238
Registered: ‎07-28-2003

Re: Help with Signal Range Problems

Glad to help.  How do you like your new WNDR4500?  I've heard many good things about it.

New Visitor
keara_kane
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎06-16-2012

Re: Help with Signal Range Problems

Ihave had mine the whole afternoon and evening and because information is Xtremely limited, I have yet to get it hooked up with Comcast and still have an internet connection,

I mean i put my comcast id and password with Microsoft outlook and it found the settings necessary to connect to the internet, but not netgear.

There is the Genie thing that is not really much of a genie. If I thought for one minute , i would have to learn what my subnet ,mac, gateway,IPV4 address, I would never have wasted my money.

I bought it at Walmart and probably will take it back and forego wifi.

I have lived without it for the past 60 years...smile.

Yes, I am disgusted, if I want on the internet I have to unplug all the crab from netgear 4500 who by the way is still looking for an internet collection just to help the Genie figure out the one thing I wanted it to do.

Connection Expert
EG
Posts: 43,056
Registered: ‎12-24-2003

Re: Help with Signal Range Problems

You need to properly powercycle / reset the modem whenever you change the device that is being directly connected to it.