Wifi issues? try an extender (and don’t forget the gas!)

Last year, we purchased a new home that is nearly twice as big as the house we had.  As with any move, you tend to either overlook something or just not think of everything, like the house using natural gas for heat. Imagine my surprise when I went to shower and had no hot water.  I felt pretty lame since I knew the house had gas logs in the fire place.  It was April of 2011 and the weather was starting to warm up, so I just didn’t think about the gas.  It took five days to get the gas flowing, but we could finally enjoy a hot shower or bath (that tub in the master bedroom is amazing!) One thing that was not flowing very well, however, was the WiFi.

At the old house, which was about 1400 square feet, my Belkin router worked great. Nice, fast coverage all the way out to my mail box.  Not here. No, sir.

Since we have an XBOX 360 and since it is in our ‘game room’ (really just the finished second floor of the garage, but nearly as big as the house) that’s where the cable modem and router are located. In the game room, WiFi works great.  However, go 20 feet down the hall and the signal would drop to half. Go to the opposite end of the house and the signal is nearly gone.  I have purchased two routers in the last year, hoping that would fix it. I got a Netgear ‘extended range’ router last time and that helped a little.

I even got desperate and put a router on a PC in our bedroom and tried to use it as an extender. That worked insofar as having a good WiFi signal on that side of the house, however, it was still saddled with the weak signal coming from the game room.  After a couple of months trying to get that setup to work, I just went back to the way it was and we just dealt with a slow connection in the other parts of the house.

Last week, I get a call from Comcast, my ISP/Cable provider again, and was informed that the cable modem was reporting signal issues going into the house. They setup a time and day for a tech to come out and fix. Well, true to their word, a tech did come out and worked on the line coming into the house. He found an EIGHT way splitter that he replaced with a three way splitter. That did, in fact, speed up our service.  Except for the WiFi, which was still rather slow.

Frustrated, we paid Best Buy a visit and walked away (after paying, of course) with a Netgear WiFi Range Extender (model WN3000RP.) We were told by the Best Buy guy that it was simple, just plug it in and pick your network name from the browser based interface. Really? It’s that simple? I don’t normally put a lot of stock in what I’m told by someone at Best Buy (sorry, if you work there, I mean no offense, but most of them generally do not have a broad product knowledge) but, this time, the guy was spot on.

WN3000RP from NetgearThe WN3000RP really is brain dead simple to configure.  It plugs directly into the wall, so it is also completely wireless. Once plugged in and the indicator LEDs light up, you can go to the browser on your computer and enter the address to bring up the extender’s configuration page.  It will detect all of the WiFi nets in your area. Pick the one you wish to extend and, if it is secured, you will need to enter it’s password. Once it connects, you are good to go.  No fuss.  It took all of five minutes.  Three of the five were me reading the little user guide.

So, did it help? Yes and no.  Yes, we have much better coverage throughout the enter house. Pages load faster and things like YouTube and the games on Facebook seem a lot more smooth.  However, some rooms in the house still have issues. If there is more than two walls, it seems, then the extender’s signal goes down quite a bit, depending on the device. My first gen iPad seems to be the most problematic.  Also, most of the rooms where the signal dies down are rooms we would not normally use WiFi, like the walk in closet or the attic.  But, for where we do use WiFi, the extender is working as advertised.

We can now enjoy the Annoying Orange in full, non-stop motion just like it was to be.  Life is good.

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