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Improving Your Wifi Coverage

As more of us get tablets and smart phones and netbooks we are finding dead spots in our homes where we simply don't get good coverage. We want to use our new tablet to watch a movie, or read email or news while in bed or the bathroom but find that we can't get a good Wifi connection there.

If you can use a wired connection, the new powerline technology might help (search for powerline networking at Amazon or Google). The Western Digital WD Livewire Powerline AV Network Kit looks like a good choice. Cnet has a review here.

The powerline option is great for notebooks, but it is useless for tablets and phones that don't have Ethernet connections. And, it keeps you tethered to a wire.

For most of us, the answer is a WiFi repeater or Extender.

What is a WiFi Repeater?

A WiFi repeater (sometimes called and extender), takes the signal from a WiFi network and then repeats that signal for its own network.

The normal configuration for a WiFi repeater is to place it about mid-way between the dead spot and your router. It will pick up the signal from your router and then send it out freshly charged up like, essentially cutting the distance in half. If you get a good one, the signal might even be better than the one from your router.

Cool, So what do I do exactly?

1. Plug it in and take control.
You'll plug in your new extender about halfway between where you can't get reception and your router. Then connect a notebook to the extender with the provided Ethernet cable and enter the default IP address for the extender. For my Amped SR300, which I do recommend, the default IP address is This connection requires the provided Ethernet cable so you can connect and configure the Network Extender. Once you connect your notebook to the Wireless Extender tell it to look around for available wireless networks. You will only need the wired connection during setup.

2. Connect to YOUR WiFi Network
Once the new extender finds your network, connect to it by providing the WiFi passphrase. Now there is a link from the Extender to your WiFi Router.

3. Setup a New (2nd) Network
Setup a second WiFi network. If you network was HappyWiFi, you can make this one HappyWiFi2. You will then need to create a new passphrase. Since I assume you made a good one already, I'd just use the same one you already have on your first WiFi network.

4. Turn off the bad stuff
Turn off
  • WPS
  • Unpnp
  • Remote Administration
Your Extender will have WPS, and may or may not have UnPnp or Remote administration. Once you have the Extender setup the way you want, you can unplug your notebook.

5. Connect your Tablets or phones to the new network.
You can now connect any of your devices to the new network.

Isn't there an easy push button setup?

Yes there is, but it is unsafe and should never be used. It is called Wireless Protected Setup, but it is unprotected. Do not use it. Disable it. I have an article here that explains more about it and how to disable it.

Date: February 2012

Creative Commons License
This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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