Eliminate dead spots with the right wireless networking techniques
Most offices have at least one annoying zone, where a weak signal and dropped connections prevent laptops from staying online. A wireless router or access point can send its signal about 300 feet, but obstacles such as walls, ceilings, and even other devices can block the signal or cause interference , creating a dead spot. Whether you’re in the midst of designing your wireless network or you’re wondering how to improve your existing wireless LAN, follow these five steps to eliminate dead spots and improve the wireless coverage in your workspace.
- Choose gear that supports 802.11n wireless networking technology. It provides better throughput and coverage than old 802.11b/g wireless protocols.. Although 802.11n doesn’t get rid of dead spots all together, it definitely makes them less likely to occur on your Wi-Fi network.
- Try rearranging your wireless access points or wireless routers to eliminate dead spots and improve signal strength. Sometimes, moving your wireless router or wireless access point (WAP) to a more central location in your building or even just to a spot closer to the ceiling can fix a dead spot.Sometimes, though, this simple fix doesn’t improve the wireless connection. Some dead spots don’t respond to moving gear to a new location. They can be inconsistent—sometimes devices can connect just fine, while other times the connection fails. If this sounds familiar, you may be dealing with multipath interference. Wireless signals split and follow different paths to a wireless device, bouncing off obstacles at different angles then arriving at a wireless device at different times. This causes the split signals to interfere with each other, eroding your wireless coverage.
- Add a new wireless router or WAP to combat multipath interference. For instance, wireless gear that has two antennae makes it more likely to receive a better signal. Experiment with pointing the antennae in different directions to get the best possible reception. Also, choose one, such as the Cisco Small Business AP 500 Series Wireless Access Point, that uses multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) dual-band technology to send and receive wireless signals over three antennae. Devices with MIMO generally provide greater throughput while extending the WAP’s range.If the dead spot is caused by distance rather than obstacles interfering with the signal, you can deploy a wireless access point that gives your WLAN greater range and throughput.
- Extend your Wi-Fi coverage to eliminate dead spots. If you have a Wireless-G router or access point, such as the Cisco WRV210 Wireless-G VPN Router or the Cisco WAP200 Wireless-G Access Point, you can add on RangeBooster technology to boost the signal’s range and throughput speeds. RangeBooster uses two smart receivers to detect wireless signals that are bounced off of walls, ceilings, and other obstacles.You can extend your wireless coverage even more effectively with a router or WAP that can work in bridge mode, which is also called Wireless Distribution System (WDS). With WDS, you can build out your wireless network without having to connect your access points to a traditional, wired network. This is like creating a blanket of wireless signals, a method that can almost completely eliminate dead spots in your facility. The Cisco WAP4410N Wireless-N Access Point features WDS and is designed for small companies that need extended reach in their wireless network.
- If you still aren’t getting the connectivity you want, consider conducting a site survey to determine the ideal locations for your networking gear. You can use free site mapping software, such as Ekahau HeatMapper, to map where signals will be the strongest, or you can call in the help of a local Cisco reseller with expertise in wireless network design.
Building a Wi-Fi network can involve some trial and error—but with some experimentation, you should be able to get nearly complete wireless coverage for your small business. Banishing the frustration of dropped Internet connections is definitely worth the effort.
What steps have you taken to improve your company’s wireless coverage?