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Author Topic: Expanding WiFi coverage in difficult buildings  (Read 1870 times)

Carol Haynes

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Expanding WiFi coverage in difficult buildings
« on: September 27, 2013, 06:05:56 AM »
A couple of years ago I installed some wifi expanders in a local hotel. They worked but were not brilliant and only provided coverage for parts of the building.

The building is a ramshackle amalgam of very old buildings with thick stone walls internally and externally, on mutliple levels and multiple floors so lines of sight are difficult and wall are thick and difficult to drill.

The problems are the main telephone socket and router are situated away from most of the guests parts of the building on the ground floor.

They don't want the mess or to spend a fortune on having ethernet cables installed and because of the history of the wiring mains networking only works in parts of the building.

Anyone got any other ideas on how to expand wifi coverage to the whole building and get good quality in awkward buildings?

Stoic Joker

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Re: Expanding WiFi coverage in difficult buildings
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2013, 06:51:57 AM »
Can you give us a bit more detail on what they have now, and how much of it works. Overall size of complex/distance between buildings, etc.?

I've always been a fan of powerline networking in a pinch...but if their electrical wiring is antique/crap/both it could end up being a different version of a worse problem. Depending on size of complex, they may need fiber, or just bite the bullet and replace key sections of the network wiring.

If the backbone can't handle the traffic load fancy end points won't help the situation.

Carol Haynes

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Re: Expanding WiFi coverage in difficult buildings
« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2013, 07:13:45 AM »
It is a collection of old adjoining stone built buildings that have been knocked together. Consequently there are thick walls throughout, floors are on different levels (and sometimes at different angles), it is multistorey (3 I think in total but it might be 3.5 - with varying levels).

At the moment it has old mains electrical wiring - presumably using different ring mains inherited from when it was different buildings because mains networking only works very sporadically in parts of the building so presumably it can't get from one ring to the next.

There is no network cabling at all in the building. Basically they have a telephone line bringing in an ADSL signal to their private quarters - a wireless router modem (netgear I think - can't remember the model - but IIRC it is 54g - which doesn't help*). I installed an expander in their cafe area which gives wifi coverage in the cafe and to the rooms on the floor above.

Customers have been complaining about lack of wifi coverage in the bedrooms.

My solution would be to run ethernet cabling to a number of parts of the building from the router and then put wifi expanders on the end but I am not sure how easy or attractive the cabling would be because of the nature of the walls and multiple levels (nothing is flat!) and I am not sure they want to pay for the time.

I suppose an alternative solution would be to run ethernet through a window externally to the roof space and put expanders above the upper rooms.

Whatever happens I think it is going to need a fair amount of time, effort and gear to get full coverage and from my last visit I guess they want to do it on the cheap!


*Update - it is a Netgear N300 Wireless N adsl2 modem/router
« Last Edit: September 27, 2013, 08:19:48 AM by Carol Haynes »

Stoic Joker

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Re: Expanding WiFi coverage in difficult buildings
« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2013, 01:21:10 PM »
Hm... Okay, I'm assuming by "mains networking" (I'm not familiar with that term) you are referring to powerline networking...yes?

If you can get an electrician to go over a few of the runs in the buildings, and to reseat the grounds in the main panels that should get the mains (/powerline) networks to function within their own rings. Then connect the rings with much less network cable and run the wireless access points off the powerline (/mains) network.

Basically run the network cable through whatever space is the easiest, and then branch vertically with the powerline units to position the WAPs for maximum coverage.

Our office used to be a small shopping center years ago...so the wiring here is all chopped to hell. But I had many successful test runs with powerline boxes after tinkering around in the panel a bit to get the grounds working properly ... So it might be worth a shot.