Typically, people install a wireless range extender so wireless signal can cover all areas in the home or office. This type of equipment provides internet connectivity through wired or wireless connection in hard-to-reach areas or wireless dead zones, repeating the wireless signal of any router or access point. Configuring the range extender can be a lot easier with an installation CD or simply changing the wireless settings on the access point or router. However, if those elements are not provided, you may have to do manual setup of the device.
First, choose a wireless extender that really expands your wireless coverage
Wireless extenders can halve the throughput even when they extend the range. For users who have wireless coverage issues, it is best to get a dual-band router. This type of device allows the user to boost a 2.4Ghz signal further while boosting the 5Ghz short-range signal to make it stronger. Pairing the extender with the 2.4Ghz band allows the user to reserve that band for tasks that require lighter throughput, such as checking email and web browsing. The 5Ghz band can be employed for streaming multimedia or linking to gaming consoles or smart TV’s on wireless devices, which pretty much covers throughput-intensive tasks.
Check out models with a signal strength indicator
With the right equipment, you also have to determine the best location to have your wireless extender at. The ideal position is midway from the router to where the wireless coverage seems to drag. It won’t do to put the device too close to the WiFi modem, since this would hinder you from getting the best coverage. Too far and you just waste what you have with a weak signal.
It is good advice to buy a wireless extender that has an indicator for signal strength to help you locate the perfect spot.
Some experts suggest setting up a chat app between two users on different devices in the home network to find a good place to position the wireless extender. The two devices have to be wirelessly connected to the router. One of the users positions themselves next to the router, while the other moves farther and farther from it. Once the chat connection drops or lags, the weak signal area has been found, making it the ideal location for the wireless extender.
Yet another means of determining where the signal drops is to employ free software such as the inSSIDer, which allows you to view the signal strength of the router. This software can be installed on both a Windows and Mac laptop or an Android device. It will work the same way as when using a chat app: the location where the signal strength drops is where the device has to be positioned.
Identify the wireless settings of the router or access point
These include: the wireless network name or service set identifier (SSID); the hardware identification number; and the wireless password, security/network key or the modem’s wireless security key.
The network name or SSID of the extender is a 32 case-sensitive alphanumeric character identifier sent over a wireless local area network, which acts as the password to connect a mobile device to the basic service set. It is what differentiates one WLAN from another WLAN. In principle, all devices connecting to a particular WLAN should utilize the same SSID.
The hardware identification number is a number that identifies each device connected to the network. The last four digits of this number have to be written down.
The WPA key is typically on a sticker found either on the back of the modem or underneath the device. It’s the same security key used to have the laptop connect to the modem.
Choose a Method for Setup
One quick method is WPS, which broadcasts the same network name and password as the source modem so it’s no longer necessary to switch between WiFi networks. This is a simpler method.
The slightly slower Ethernet Cable method enables the user to specify the SSID of the extender, allowing manual switching between WiFi networks based on signal strength.
Plug the range extender to the AC outlet, and make sure the LED lights for power and signal strength are stable. The WLAN light will keep flashing.
Set up the wireless extender with WPS
Launch a web browser. Enter the default IP address in the address bar. Note:should your PC have a defined default startup web page on its browser, a dialog box requesting entry of a username and password will appear automatically.
A window prompting you to enter a username and password will appear. Leave the username blank then enter admin in the password field and click Log In.
Click Wireless, then choose Basic Wireless Settings. Next, set the radio button to Manual and put in the router’s network name or SSID.
On the Wireless Security section, choose the security settings that correspond to the configuration of the router. Put in the WEP key or passphrase and click Save Settings. It is recommended to utilize WPA/WPA2 wireless security on both the range extender and router.
Synchronize the range extender with the router
Unplug the power cables for the range extender and router for about half a minute. Plug the router in first, then once all the lights are stable, plug in the range extender.
To ensure successful installation of the range extender, open your router’s DHCP table and make sure the range extender is there along with its IP address. Ping the device using a wireless PC and make sure you can elicit replies from it.
Expand your network
Some other devices on the market aside from wireless range extenders can help users expand their local network whether wirelessly or through wired means. These include wireless bridges, access points and switches.