No Signals & Dead Spots

Problem: Your office at home is so far away from your router that no Wi-Fi signal will connect.

Solution: The best and most obvious solution is to run a CAT 5e cable between the two points, but that’s not a viable solution for many people who have neither the funds to get it done nor the skill to do it themselves.

Renters face another obstacle: Landlords who don’t want holes poked through their walls and ceilings. If you find yourself in that rather large group of folk, all isn’t lost. There’s always Powerline networking gear. If you’re not familiar with the work being done by the Homeplug Powerline Alliance, check its website for the all the background. The gist of things is simple: You get two adapters. You plug one into an AC wall outlet near the equipment you want to network and the other in a wall outlet near your router.

No Signals & Dead Spots


Too Good To Be True?

As soon as you do that, the pair will begin to look for each other, and, once they find themselves, they start communicating. When that happens, you plug your computer gear into one of the adapters and your router into the other and you’re networked. The adapters use the existing electrical lines in your home as if it were CAT 5e strung between the devices.

If that sounds too good to be true, in some cases it is. Despite being advertised at 300Mbs, at best the networking speeds probably hover around 802.11g levels (about 54Mbs). It might be slower as well or even totally ineffective.

The throughput speed depends on the condition of your electrical wiring (older wiring tends to be slower), what, if any, other loads you might have on those lines, and something called a phase leg. The latter is probably the most important factor if your goal is to have some network communication ability rather than none at all.

Problem: You have a dead spot in your home that your 802.11g router can’t seem to reliably reach.

Solution: If you’re not already using an 802.11n router and adapter, it might be time for the switch. (True, the standard hasn’t been finally approved yet, but best guess is that the hardware is locked down and any changes that are needed will be done to firmware –which you can upgrade.)

Why “n?” Because it uses a technology called MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output) that allows it to broadcast and receive multiple signals.

When a data stream arrives at your dead spot, it’s often been bounced off of too many walls, floors, and other obstructions to make much sense to your 802.11g or 802.11b router. A MIMO-enabled router takes all those bounced reflections and compares them, looking to fill in the blanks until it’s pieced together as much of the signal — if not all of it — as possible. It’s more than likely that the drop-outs you’ve experienced with your 802.11b/g router and adapter will be cured and you might actually see some honest Wi-Fi speed emerge.