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Wireless Woes - page 2

Ideally you’d have the router mounted up high, perhaps in the loft, to give maximum wireless coverage which passes through the ceiling as they are near-transparent to wireless but then you’re faced with the problem of connecting the router to your ADSL or cable, so you’re back to square one.

Riyad has no idea what I’m talking about here as his router is located in his lounge, but come the day he wants to sit in the garden with a laptop he’ll share my pain (sorry Leo, nothing is hard wired to the router in my lounge, everything connects wirelessly from all over the house – ed.).

If you have one or two solid walls between your router and wherever you want a connection then you can upgrade your router to a MiMo unit and you’re likely to achieve a decent signal but you’ll also flood the neighbourhood with wireless. Achieving a Very Good or Excellent connection within your house guarantees that your immediate neighbour will see a Good signal while down the road they’ll still see a few Mbit/sec of connection that has leaked out. I know this because, ahem, I’ve roamed the street with a notebook precisely to see how much signal escaped from my house and yes, I probably looked very odd indeed.

The only reason most of us want a connection that is faster than 54Mbit/sec is to guarantee decent coverage within a few rooms of one building, particularly if you’re attempting to stream TV or a movie wirelessly, and if that means that we blanket the post code with wireless, well, that’s just a price we have to pay and a risk that we’re willing to take.

Happily there’s a simple solution to this problem that is well known to almost every nation apart from the Brits. It’s called Ethernet Over Power and it uses the mains power cables to transmit a network signal from one room to another. The Netgear WGXB102 unit in the picture is typical of the breed. There are two gizmos in the package that look something like a Glade plug-in air freshener and which cost £85 the pair. You plug one into a mains socket somewhere near your router and then connect it to the router with an Ethernet cable (there’s a port on the underside). You then plug the second gizmo into a mains socket in the room where you want wireless and it broadcasts 802.11g without any need for configuration.

The Germans are very big on Ethernet Over Power as we bombed most of their cities flat during WW2 and when they rebuilt they adopted a policy of putting the utilities in the basement. Add in a predilection for concrete floors and it’s a cast iron pig to get a wireless signal from the basement to the rest of the house, so they simply worked around the problem and used the mains cabling instead.

So I was wrong, we do have a network in the home, it’s just that it is generally used to power your kettle and to keep the lights on.

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