Dave, I’m trying to get my local network set up and can’t figure out whether one wireless router will pick up a signal from the other so, say, you could
stretch the distance a wireless signal reaches? And if they do talk to
each other, would it speed up or slow down things?
And a related question: does the distance a signal travels matter, whether the
indoors signal has to travel up from a basement onto a second floor of the
house, vs. having the router on the same floor with computers using it?
You can definitely use Wifi boosters to extend your network. A neat solution in this regard is the Apple Airport Express device: plug it into the wall anywhere in your house and it’ll automatically detect an existing wireless network and extend its range further. There are plenty of other options, of course.
The distance a signal travels matters in the same way that DSL speed is affected by how far it has to go down the phone line before it gets to your modem. Having said that, you probably won’t see the problem too much, though if you’re asking about a repeater, well, maybe you are seeing this problem.
My office wireless network — based on the faster 802.11g protocol — extends sufficiently far that I can go to a café elsewhere in the building and still see it. At home, my base station is in the basement and yet I can easily work online anywhere in the house or yard. I’ve even sat in my car in the driveway and been online (don’t ask!)
The 802.11b technology (11Mbps wireless in WiFi) travels about 300 feet in open spaces. It’s sometimes considered a “two wall” technology, meaning going through two walls is the best you can hope for the signal. Wall composition matters too (a concrete wall with reinforced metal bars, for example, is more problematic than a typical wood frame and plasterboard interior wall in a house), and newer protocols are extending the range of wireless networks too.
External antennas also help, as do new higher-powered PC Cards such as the SMC Networks SMC2532W-B card. It uses a more powerful transmitter/receiver and increased a colleagues signal strength in limited testing by about 50 percent. And 802.11g lets you add repeaters and additional antennas to extend that distance.
Oh! One more point: if you have a dual-antenna base station, position your antennas pointing in different directions to maximize the extend of your wireless field. I have one pointing at approximately one o’clock and the other at about nine o’clock.
Hope that helps you out!