How to Improve Router Signal
Improving router signal strength is by far the most common problem that you’re like to encounter with your WiFi network, it’s also one of the easier ones to mitigate.
There are quite a few options available to improve router signals; by choosing the one that best suits your situation.
You can have a faster, more consistent connection throughout your home.
We’re going to be looking into the reasons that you might need to improve your signal strength.
The methods available for that, how to use them, and what precautions you need to take in the process.
Why Do I Need To Improve Router Signals?
The most common reason that you’re not getting the performance you’d been led to expect before purchasing your router is also the easiest to correct: layout and location.
A WiFi signal is pretty good at traveling through the air; it’s not so good at traveling through a sofa.
You can get a lot of mileage out of simple changes to your furniture layout and the physical location of your router.
Place your router in a fairly central location in your home and ensure there’s a relatively clear line of sight from it to the devices that you intend to use wirelessly on your network.
You don’t need to place the router in the dead center of some cavernous, empty space or anything; obstacles between the router and a device are manageable as long as there aren’t too many.
If you can just move some furniture around and get the performance you need, then that’s great – but this won’t always be enough; maybe your home is too large, or it just has an inconvenient layout.
You can’t very well move walls out of the way.
If that’s the case, then you’ll need to look into doing things the hard way.
Power, Unlimited Power
The most obvious – and, generally, most effective – solution here will be obvious to anyone who’s watched an episode of Home Improvement: more power!
Turning up the broadcasting power of your radio will provide a quick, no-hassle boost to signal strength; you’ll cover a wider area and be better able to penetrate obstacles.
If you’re lucky, your router’s firmware will include a TX power setting by default, and you can just adjust it to a higher value using the administration panel.
Unfortunately, most routers don’t support this functionality out of the box. It’s understandable enough; a clueless user could very well cause hardware damage by just cranking it up as high as it’ll go.
So, you’re probably going to need to install a third-party firmware like Tomato, OpenWRT or DD-WRT; this is a simple enough process, and you should be able to find a tutorial on the wiki of the relevant project.
Now you can get to work…
…but, first, you need to do some research. Figure out what the transmitter in your router is, and what the maximum power it supports
Pushing the TX power above that value is not advisable; it runs the risk of causing hardware deterioration to your router, and can overload the receiver, meaning that it may well cause performance to degrade as opposed to improve.
You also want to figure out what the maximum unlicensed broadcasting power on the 2.4GHz or 5GHz, depending, band is in your jurisdiction; your TX power and antenna…
…gain shouldn’t exceed this value, or you may find yourself explaining things to the federal trade commission.
Don’t Overdo It!
You want to cover your entire home nicely. You might even want to get a good signal out on a patio or lawn. However, once you’ve managed to improve router signal strength to an acceptable degree, stop there.
Even a relatively secure WiFi network won’t deter a truly determined invader; once they’re in, they can do whatever they want.
They have access to any resources available on the network, creating a risk of malware infections; they can commit whatever illegal acts they like and you’ll be the one held accountable.
Even if there’s nothing nefarious going on, the intruder’s Internet traffic will be eating away at your bandwidth cap!
This is a small risk, but it’s a risk nonetheless – and one that grows bigger as your network does.
There’s nothing to gain from broadcasting across the street, so leave well enough alone.