How to Revive Dead Wi-Fi Zones in Your Home

So, you’ve finally purchased that modern $100 router. It’s got all those shiny new features you’ve always wanted, including dual band support, guest networks, a powerful hardware-based firewall, and so much more.

And yet, for some strange reason, there are several areas in your home where the Wi-Fi signal is absorbed by a virtual blackhole – and a huge one! Still, the signal is powerful enough only 1-2 feet away from these dead zones.

But why is this happening? Aren’t these modern routers supposed to deal with the problem for good, providing enough Wi-Fi signal power to cover the entire house?

Often times, the main problem is the limited radio range. Some routers are equipped with better Wi-Fi antennas. Sadly, other manufacturers fit their routers with low gain antennas, which limit the signal range to 20 feet or so. Things get even worse if your router is set up to operate on the 5 GHz band, where the Wi-Fi signal lacks the power that’s needed to penetrate real-world obstacles: walls, metal structures, furniture, and so on.

Businesses tend to solve most of these problems by installing lots of access points, with the goal of maximizing the range of the Wi-Fi signal. You could follow the same plan, of course, but before spending your money on new hardware, it is wise to verify if the problem isn’t caused by your neighbors’ Wi-Fi networks, which may be operating on the same channel with your network, or on a channel that’s close to yours.

Few people are aware of this, but many Wi-Fi channels overlap. Only channels 1, 6, 11 and 14 can be used for four different networks without interfering, for example. Take a good look at the diagram below to see why this happens.

This means that even if your neighbor runs his Wi-Fi network using the sixth channel, the signal will interfere with your network that’s running on the fifth channel, causing those unwanted dead zones.

To fix the issue, download a Wi-Fi analyzer application, install it on your phone, and then determine the least crowded channel. Log into your router, and then choose that channel for your network. It may be tempting to choose a channel on the 5 GHz band, because the technology is newer, so the number of available channels is much greater. Still, as mentioned above, higher frequency signals aren’t able to propagate properly, because they tend to bounce off surfaces, rather than penetrate them.

Apparently, you can build a range extender by making use of a USB adapter that’s mounted in a signal concentrating dish, and then use a long RP-SMA extension cable to connect it to the network. At least this is what Instructables recommends! I did not try to recreate their project, but it should work.

What does work for sure, because I’ve tested this method several times, is to move the router closer to the area that’s got those dead Wi-Fi zones. If that is impossible, at least try to move the router higher – place it on top of a cabinet, for example.

Some people have to deal with perplexing situations, in which their devices can connect to the Wi-Fi network without problems in the morning, for example, but are unable to do that in the evening. If this has happened to you as well, it is important to understand that the main cause of the problem is the interference which can be caused by various electronic devices.

Our homes – and our neighbors’ homes! – have many devices that generate 2.4 GHz waves, the same frequency that’s used by our routers. This means that when your daughter throws a popcorn bag into the microwave oven, for example, she starts a wave source that will cause interference problems in your Wi-Fi network.

As you can imagine, things like these are very hard to predict, but fortunately there’s an easy fix for them: use a signal extender to boost Wi-Fi range. A decent signal extender will cost about $50, and some manufacturers claim that their products can triple the signal range.

Place the signal extender between your router and the dead zone; this way, the weak signal will be amplified and transmitted towards the dead spots, which will be revived.

Dead zones are almost always inevitable. But the good news is that they can be easily brought back to life by following the steps highlighted in this article.

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Hulu Upgrade, Free Internet and Chinese Google Play Store

Hulu Adds an Innovative Feature to its App

Most video content providers try to add all sorts of features to their apps, but the truth is that most of them are pure eye candy: new types of user ratings, interactive previews, and so on. However, it looks like Hulu is onto something new with its latest app update, which will significantly boost the content watching experience.

From now on, you will be able to use your Oculus Rift and Gear VR to join your friends who are watching Hulu movies and television shows in virtual rooms. The company has also added touch features to its app, and you can already try them out if you have an Oculus Rift. Simply use your hands to browse through the existing library and pick up the desired “objects”.

Now that Hulu has raised the bar, it will be interesting to see what Netflix has in store for its users.

 

Alibaba Plans to Offer Free Internet Access in India

The e-Commerce giant, which has purchased Chinese-based UCWeb about three years ago, plans to provide the needed equipment that will help Indian people get access to free Internet. It’s a great move, because it also allows the company to provide low cost plans to people who can afford to pay for Internet access. Alibaba wants to plug its cables into existing Wi-Fi networks at the beginning, but its long-term goal is to strengthen UCWeb’s presence in India.

UCWeb is the maker of the popular, highly rated UC Browser, which can be installed on regular PCs and Android devices.

Will Alibaba succeed in its effort to penetrate the huge Indian market? Only time will tell us if the Indian government will allow it to do so. A similar initiative launched by Facebook was stopped in its tracks only a few months ago, because the government doesn’t want data/content providers to have total control over the type of content that can be consumed by the Indian people.

 

Google Has Built a Chinese Version of Play Store

According to Reuters, one of the top international news agencies, Google tried to launch a custom version of its Play Store in China last year. The Chinese government wants to control the types of apps that people can install on their phones, though.

Still, this country, which has a population of close to 1.4 billion people – yes, about 427% bigger than the US population – is a great target for any company, and especially for Google, which wants to keep its shareholders as happy as possible.

Android is one of the most popular smartphone operating systems in China, so it’s a pity that Play Store can’t be installed on Chinese phones. This explains why many Android users rely on third party app stores, which often times also include infected application and malware. Btw, if you think that your phone may be infected, give Lookout a try.

The Chinese government wants to force all these third-party stores to register, though. And then, they will have to get rid of illegal content. Does this mean that – now that the competition is gone – Google Play will finally enter the Chinese market, having an offer of carefully-screened apps? I promise to keep an eye on what’s happening beyond the Great Wall of China.

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