3Gstore Tech Corner #6: Interference Effecting WiFi Range

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Monday, 03 May 2010

tech corner


One of the many benefits to shopping at is the unrivaled technical support our tech team offers. The mobile broadband experts at 3Gstore have helped countless customers solve a wide variety of issues, and in our Tech Corner series we'll be featuring interesting problems our customers have called us for help with, the solutions our team provided, and some simple advice for you to avoid the same problem!


Electronic Interference Effecting WiFi Range

The Problem: One of our customers called in to report that the WiFi range on their Cradlepoint MBR1000 was extremely limited - as soon as she got more than 10 feet away from her router, her laptop was unable to see the network. 

3Gstore's Solution: Since the MBR1000 uses a powerful "Wireless N" radio to trasmit WiFi, a range that low was surprising and clearly indicated a problem! Depending on walls and other interference, most MBR1000 users see between 100-200ft of range (and much more in an open area without obstructions). Since the laptop was having trouble seeing the network even in the same room as the MBR1000, tech support knew that the construction of the building itself was not to blame (it can be difficult for WiFi to transmit through metal buildings or extremely thick walls, but that wasn't the case here) and turned their attention to other sources of interference. 

Besides obvious obstructions like walls, there are a LOT of other things that can interfere with WiFi signal. Electronics, particularly other routers and devices that operate on the 2.4Ghz frequency like cordless phones, baby monitors, garage door openers, and wireless cameras, can impede signal, but so can microwaves, computer cables, stainless steel refrigerators, mirrors, and even flourescent lights (really!). Any of these can reduce your WiFi signal or cause pauses or dropouts in the transmission.

To determine if interference was to blame for this customer's WiFi troubles, tech support had her move the router to another room on the other side of the house - sure enough, her WiFi range improved dramatically. That allowed them to determine that whatever was causing the interference was likely nearby the location where she was originally trying to use the router, and they were then able to find the source by removing or turning off potential "interferers" one at a time until they found the one that was causing the problem (in this case, another router).

Our Advice: If your router is working fine in all other regards but is giving you a WiFi range that is much smaller than the router is capable of (60-80 feet for wireless "G" routers; a couple hundred feet for wireless "N" routers), interference may be to blame. If you're not sure if electronics are causing interference with your router, you can test by turning off EVERYTHING electronic in the home/office where you're testing, except for the router and the computer you're testing with. If the performance is better with everything else off, you will know that something in the home/office is indeed interfering with the signal and you can then work to figure out what it is! You can also check out Tip of the Week #18, where we list a variety of tips for improving your WiFi range.


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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 04 May 2010 )
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