Sunday, January 04, 2015
For years now we have dropped using Cat6 at home for Wifi, since the Cat5e cables in the house we moved into four years ago were damaged by construction and renovations. Even though we've purchased high end routers that claim amazing speeds, and even the other year a new Cisco router with AC capabilities, the main thing that has really improved connectivity has been the use of a high quality shielded USB 2.0 extension cable (and once Wifi AC has thoroughly set in, a USB 3.0 cable of the same quality would follow suit).
When you are close to the router, this is not an issue since speeds of 172-225Mbps are able enough for most network traffic, but the extension really pays itself off when you are far from your router where interference from your body in the way makes a difference! Even though our router is placed close to the ceiling of the basement, well above the ground, and slightly higher than the cement foundation of the house, when we connect two floors up in the home office from the desk in the side of the house, Wifi speeds drop to down to 30Mbps. At this point, we’re barely higher than the maximum download speeds and if you are on an encrypted connection to your servers at work, the connection speed is subject to frequent interruptions or unbearably slow. That’s when I looked at the pile of USB extension cables I had lying around from a recent machine rebuild, and the Wifi USB adapter that was collecting dust since purchase of the router (included in the Cisco Router bundle). As most users of a laptop, I had pre-determined that the internal Wifi adapter was presumably good enough – indeed I was most incorrect.
After adding the USB cable extension with the idle USB Wifi adapter to my laptop, and extending in the direction of the router across the desk and dangling down to the floor, connectivity speeds increased to between 72-98Mbps (at least two and half times the speed). At this point, the flaky VPN connectivity to servers went away. I also made sure to extend the cable away from anything that would cause interference – and I would suggest moving around the final location of the UBS adapter at the end of the extension to find your respective sweet spot for the communication to the router.