Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Home: Getting a Strong WiFi Signal at Home

Apple AirPort Extreme dual band router
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This is a guest post written by my husband, Kevin:

As Ramsey has mentioned, we live in an old brownstone. Because of the heavy construction with lots of brick and metal in the walls, coupled with the sheer number of neighbors, getting a decent WiFi signal throughout the house was almost impossible. This was especially true in the front bedroom where I work when I’m at home and where Sean stays when he’s visiting from med school. I tried dual band routers and power line extenders trying to get a decent signal and nothing seemed to do the job.

Finally, I had a chat with one of the network engineers where I work, and he recommended that I try a pair of Apple AirPort Extreme dual band routers (model number ME918LL/A). These routers feature multi-band 2.4 Ghz and 5 Ghz coverage and support a number of WiFi specs including 802.11a, b, g, n and ac. They can handle data rates up to 1.3Gbps, making them more than fast enough for the typical household internet speeds. On top of that, the routers feature Apple’s usual great design work so they look good as well. They aren’t cheap at about $175 each, but as you’ll see below, they are worth every penny. I ordered mine from amazon.com and they showed up in a couple days.

Set up was super easy. I took the first one out of the box and plugged it into the back of our Comcast modem using a standard ethernet cable. I logged onto my MacBook Air and started the AirPort utility, which I found by simply doing a search for AirPort. The utility found the WiFi unit, prompted me to name it and basically did the rest of the work to connect me to it. But installing the second unit was where things really got cool. Because we have two floors, I had already been advised to buy a second unit and use it as a signal extender. Now I had done that with the power line extenders in my previous set up and it was a huge pain in the neck. Getting them configured so they extended the existing WiFi instead of putting out a signal with a different name killed an otherwise pleasant Saturday afternoon and frustrated me to boot (and I’m the one my family jokingly calls “tech support”). Not so with that second Apple router. I set it on the bureau upstairs in the center of the house and plugged it in. I fired up the AirPort utility and it found the second router and because it was a second router, it ASSUMED I was trying to extend my existing network and set it up that way for me once I confirmed that’s what I wanted. Unbelievable! About 20 minutes from unboxing to getting 100Mbps down and about 40Mbps up all around the house.

Now we’ve got excellent internet coverage and “tech support” has recovered his reputation with the rest of the family.

As always, we receive no compensation for endorsing this product.

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