Bob Rankin: Powerful Fix for Weak WiFi Signal

powerful fix for weak wifi signal

Powerful Fix for Weak WiFi Signal

By Bob Rankin

Wireless networking solutions are now common for home and office networks, but there are some circumstances in which WiFi is not enough. You may have ‘dead zones’ in your home or building where wireless signals are either very weak or cannot penetrate at all. In such cases, a cool technology called Powerline Ethernet can solve the problem. Read on to learn all about it…

What is Powerline Ethernet?
Are you struggling to get a decent wifi connection in the far corners of your house? Metal or concrete structures can block or weaken a wireless Internet signal. If your network includes Internet TV, network-attached storage devices, and other bandwidth-hungry wireless devices, they may also be competing for relatively limited wireless signal strength.

A wired network is one alternative, but running cables through ceilings or walls may not be practical. Fortunately, there is a networking solution that makes use of wiring that is already installed throughout your home or office. You may be surprised to learn that an internet connection can be carried over standard electrical power lines, but it’s true.

“Powerline Ethernet” is the generic term for this technology. But don’t confuse it with “Power over Ethernet,” a totally different technology that delivers electrical power to devices over Ethernet cables. Powerline Ethernet works by encoding Internet data into a carrier wave that piggybacks across an electrical power line at a frequency somewhat higher than that of the AC power that shares the line.

Implementing Powerline Ethernet is pretty simple and inexpensive. You need at least two Powerline Ethernet adapters: small devices that plug right into standard electrical outlets. One adapter needs to connect to your Internet router or cable/DSL modem, typically with a standard Ethernet cable. But you can also get Powerline adapters that connect wirelessly. Either way, you’ll also need to plug the adapter into an AC outlet. On the other end (the part of your home or office where you want to get an Internet connection), you plug the other adapter into the outlet, and connect it to a computer with an Ethernet cable. But again, you can go wireless if you like. If you need an Internet signal for a tablet, smartphone or other mobile device, you’ll need to use an adapter that offers the wireless option.

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12 thoughts on “Bob Rankin: Powerful Fix for Weak WiFi Signal

  1. My units, brand new Western Digital, won’t work through my Bldg power board. Work OK on the one run but won’t work to another run from the board.

  2. Almost all of these devices generate a tone of radio frequency interference – which could block emergency alert radios, irritate local CB and Ham operators, and interfere with other devices in your home or business.
    This technology has been tried and rejected several times as they turn the whole wiring system into a giant antenna – even if new devices appear to be RF-clean they often get “dirty” as they age.
    Just something to consider …

  3. They may work. But there are potential problems! Since they send RF over wires, they are subject to interferance from any nearby radio signals — of many different types. And by their very nature, they *generate* RF, which can potentially cause harmful interference to other radio services.

    This is crude technology. It was supposed to have been implemented large-scale over utility wires (called Broadband over Power Lines), but it was problematic, and interference was a real issue. It is a DYING technology. And nasty.

    – Dave

  4. When one wireless router (or node) is slow, it’s probably hearing more than just your network.

    Anytime you run signals on power wiring they are not confined to the wire. I wonder if they can cause interference, or are susceptible to other signals interfering.

    BTW no wireless signal is 100% secure nor is any connection to the internet. Many sharp high school students could get by most of today’s end user security.

    BTW the “Home Plug” system works very well and is generally not prone to interference. It sounds like what Bob is describing, but has been around for some time.

  5. powerline adapters helped solve a perplexing problem we had at home. my son’s laptop refused to connect to our fios router (which is free an barely worth it) while it can to other networks and every other computer in our family (including droid and apple and blackberry) work OK with this router.
    connected a powerline adapter to the router and created another wireless network that his pc can link to. the outlet in his room didn’t link to the powerline directly (we have 2 panels in our house), so recommend this greatly.

  6. …but, how secure are these? Wouldn’t it be possible to plug another Powerline Ethernet adapter into, say, an exterior household electrical tap and gain access to someone’s network for purposes of stealing internet access, monitoring network traffic, or even tapping into networked hard drives? It’s a powerful solution, but all power comes with potential dangers that must be analyzed and mitigated.

    Wireless is relatively safe, with proper security and strong passwords. Powerline ethernet is like connecting with a wire; I know of no consumer-grade router that requires a password for wired connections. Although individual PCs on a network, or the network itself can require authentication, a physical access methodology (i.e., a wired connection) greatly simplifies a malicious hacker’s task of network intrusion using simple, readily available tools. This would represent a serious and unacceptable risk on government networks (f’rinstance); most home networks are not nearly as secure.

    Wireless repeaters are inexpensive, very effective (if never as fast as a wired connection, ‘Usman’) and designed from the outset to be made as secure as necessary to avoid intrusions from all but the most sophisticated methods (think: ‘federal law enforcement’).

    Nice advertisement, though…

    • You are correct. Anyone on the same side of the power company transformer as you’r home will be able to use you’r internet bandwidth for whatever purpose they want, including criminal activities. This was first discovered back in the 70’s with the X-10 home automation system.

    • @zooid:
      I have set up quite a number and it is safe. Before you plug in to different locations, you are required to plug both and press a button. This will encrypt the link line.
      Some adaptors comes with softwares cd which will access the adaptors and you can set up the encryption passphrase.

  7. What about if your wireless signal is excellent, but the speed is much lower than it would be if you connected an ethernet cable. Note, this only happens with one of my wireless routers.

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