Question Long distance WiFi reception

ken h

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How can I improve long range WiFi reception, for a Windows 10 laptop?

I've already switched to a Netgear Nighthawk A7000 external USB adapter, which has helped, but am considering another USB adapter that has a connection for an external antenna.

Any experence with this?
 

AllanGH

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Back in the early days of WiFi you could find any number of antenna projects that could get you a few kilometers distance of respectable bidirectional communication between endpoint stations with the kind of expense that amounts to pocket change. You can have quite a bit of fun experimenting with different options for antenna enhancements.
 

britechguy

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Have you considered relocating your router, if that's an option?

Sometimes a change of a few feet, or moving it to "higher ground" in the building can make a huge difference.
 

ken h

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Back in the early days of WiFi you could find any number of antenna projects that could get you a few kilometers distance of respectable bidirectional communication between endpoint stations with the kind of expense that amounts to pocket change. You can have quite a bit of fun experimenting with different options for antenna enhancements.
Yeah, I remember this from the distant past. I'm going to explore the options.
 

ken h

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Have you considered relocating your router, if that's an option?

Sometimes a change of a few feet, or moving it to "higher ground" in the building can make a huge difference.
That's the issue; the router is not under my control. I'm a paying Comcast customer who spends quite a bit of time at a different location than where my service is.

At this location I can get the secure 'XFINITY' WiFi and the open 'xfinitywifi' signals, which I have access to as part of my Blast Internet package.

The problem is the signals aren't as robust as I'd like. If I can get improved performance with an antenna of some type, it will save me from opening another Comcast account for Internet service.
 
If you get tired of playing with silly stuff you can get a outdoor bridge for about $50. Something like a ubiquiti nanostation loco. Make sure you get the correct band, 2.4g will go farther in most cases but you can get more potential speed using 802.11ac on 5g.

Still there maybe no good solution. Wifi is absorbed very easily by anything in the path including the air to some extent. The way long distance is normally done when you control both ends and can setup outdoor bridge unit on both end where they can be in direct line of sight.

It all depends on the distance when you are within a couple hundred meters you might get it to work with direction equipment only on one end but too many variables to say how well it will work.
 

ken h

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I'm located in a dense suburban neighborhood. I'm guessing the XFINITY router is within 100' or less, since the Netgear is indoors and gets 4 of 5 bars of signal strength on Windows 10, usually.

I probably need a WiFi software tool that shows directional info.
 

AllanGH

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I probably need a WiFi software tool that shows directional info.
Not necessary with a directional antenna.

With 2.4GHz, you need to keep your lead length as short as possible, to avoid coax attenuation losses.
With 5GHz, you're fine for lead length to a few meters, but are working against the lower transmission distance of the transmitted signal.
If you're building your own "cantenna", a "Pringles" can is fine for 5GHz but, for 2.4GHz, you'll need a larger diameter can for decent gain.
The Internet is replete with sources for construction methods, and you are looking at less than 10-dollars to slap one together.

In any case, once you have a directional antenna, you simply mount it on a short tripod and connect it to your computer. While watching your available networks pane, you alter the rotation of the tripod until you get the maximum signal level for the network SSID you want, then alter the elevation of aim until the signal is at a maximum peak. Leave it there, and connect.

If DIY isn't your thing, then look at directional WiFi antennas on Amazon, or look through the Ubiquiti Networks catalogue.
 

hang-the-9

Titan
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Not necessary with a directional antenna.

With 2.4GHz, you need to keep your lead length as short as possible, to avoid coax attenuation losses.
With 5GHz, you're fine for lead length to a few meters, but are working against the lower transmission distance of the transmitted signal.
If you're building your own "cantenna", a "Pringles" can is fine for 5GHz but, for 2.4GHz, you'll need a larger diameter can for decent gain.
The Internet is replete with sources for construction methods, and you are looking at less than 10-dollars to slap one together.

In any case, once you have a directional antenna, you simply mount it on a short tripod and connect it to your computer. While watching your available networks pane, you alter the rotation of the tripod until you get the maximum signal level for the network SSID you want, then alter the elevation of aim until the signal is at a maximum peak. Leave it there, and connect.

If DIY isn't your thing, then look at directional WiFi antennas on Amazon, or look through the Ubiquiti Networks catalogue.
The issue with the directional antenna is that you would be just swinging it around to hit the router. This Xfinity WiFi is a horrible idea to begin with, it uses other Xfinity customers routers to publish a public WiFi signal other customers can logon to, and use their router for WiFi. So you have some random people connecting to your router whenever they want and using your internet connection. It's like if you happened to buy a Ford, then Ford game all their other customers keys to your car so when you have it parcked they can hop in your car if they passed by it and needed to drive somewhere.

Crowd funded WiFi but the crowd in 99% of the cases does not even know they are part of it LOL
 

AllanGH

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The issue with the directional antenna is that you would be just swinging it around to hit the router.
The benefit of the directional antenna is, by virtue of its gain, you're more likely to be able to hit the router with a decent enough signal to get the job done--assuming an unimpeded 100' shot. Intervening trees and structures decrease that likelihood quite a bit, though.

...Xfinity WiFi...
Never heard of it. It was my presumption that the OP is trying to hit his own router/AP.
 

ken h

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hang-the-9, you have an incorrect understanding of the Comcast publicly available networks.

AllanGH, as I said previously said, I'm a Comcast customer who is using their out-of-home WiFi network.

There are two out-of-home Comcast customer WiFi options; the unsecure 'xfinitywifi' network and the WPA2 Enterprise secure 'XFINITY' network. Both emanate from Comcast supplied customer gateways, along with the customer's WiFi network, but are totally separate from the customer's service. The customer's bandwidth is not shared with the public networks anymore than if you were just another Comcast customer among many on one of their nodes.

I'm using the 'XFINITY' network.
 
Of course it affects the customer bandwidth. Its not like there is a separate wifi radio just for external use. This is actually much worse than sharing the cable connection back to the comcast. Wifi does a very poor job of sharing the more connection the more overhead and the more wasted bandwidth. It also puts load on the cpu and depending on what the customer is doing with it may or may not have a direct impact but in any case it must use resources that the customer can not use.


This is one of those things I really wish I could get into the data stream and see if they actually use different IP addresses for the 2 users. Since the modem only has a single mac address I suspect it will be hard to accomplish this. If they don't at least do that it is massively more of a problem. If someone were to misuse the system there has to be a way to prove which customer really did the bad stuff.

I don't trust the technical abilities of comcast or any of the large companies. Way too many have had major security breaches. This is part of the reason I always own my cable modem and router.
 

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