Enhancing Range and Audio Quality of @Home (UMA)

September 22, 2008 at 3:27 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Q: Want to increase the range of your wireless @Home system,
and ensure that you have the best audio quality?
Solution: Improve the signal strength and range of your wireless LAN.

Audio can cut out unacceptably if the phone is receiving a weak Wi-Fi signal (and a mobile handset’s received is typically not as good as a laptop’s, so your actual range is less than you might expect). I noticed this when using T-Mobile ‘s Hotspot @Home service, so I boosted the range and signal strength of my WLAN signal with an inexpensive, Wi-Fi repeater. I recommend the D-Link DWL-G710 <http://www.dlink.com/products/?pid=357>  ($50, very easy to set up). This effectively doubled the range of my Wi-Fi network by placing a repeater where my Wi-Fi phone started to have difficulty in maintaining a connection. More importantly, it extended coverage to an area of the home where I was dropping calls due to weak Wi-Fi signal.

Alternatively, @Home service allows you to expand your WLAN including handoff of calls between multiple APs (so long as the APs are on the same subnet and using the same SSID). Although that might seem like an easy solution, in practice it is not easy to deliver in a home as it requires that the APs obtain wired Ethernet which is not typically available at multiple points in a residence. This is a fine solution for seamless service on an enterprise WLAN, but not for a residence.

Future Enhancement (for T-Mobile, not you):
A limitless solution to wirelessly expand the range of the @Home Wi-Fi radio coverage exists, but the Linksys @Home router does not support <http://gizmodo.com/archives/why-apples-airport-express-may-unofficially-extend-nonairport-networks-015834.php>  the WDS  <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wireless_Distribution_System> (Wireless Distribution System <http://www.connect802.com/wireless_bridging.htm> ) standard to connect to other Wi-Fi Access Points (using the same SSID), which would allow you to expand your WLAN with any number of devices. The benefit of WDS is that the APs only need power-not Ethernet-as they relay the messages securely as a coordinated mesh. This is an excellent solution for a home or moderate-sized enterprise. Unfortunately, WDS is not guaranteed to work across different vendors’ products; although WDS is a IEEE 802.11 standard and many vendors implement it <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wireless_Distribution_System> , its interoperability is not assured since the Wi-Fi Alliance does not test is as part of the certification process. It typically works with other routers, but it’s currently not a sure thing. WDS is a good option since it allows you to expand your WLAN without having to run Ethernet.

Wireless Distribution System (example)

Wireless Distribution System (example)

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