Wireless Network Troubleshooting: Fiddle with the Antennas

Sometimes you can fix intermittent connection problems by fiddling with the antennas on the access point and your computer’s wireless adapter. This is similar to playing with old-fashioned rabbit-ear antennas on a TV to get the best reception.

The angle of the antennas can sometimes make a difference, so try adjusting the antenna angles. In addition, you usually have better results if you place the access point at a high location, such as on top of a bookshelf.

In some cases, you may actually need to add a high-gain antenna to the access point to increase its range. These high-gain antennas simply snap or screw on to the access point to provide a bigger antenna. For example, the illustration below shows high-gain antennas that are designed to work with Linksys access points. Antennas such as these cost about $70 for the pair.

[Credit: Photo courtesy of Linksys.]

Credit: Photo courtesy of Linksys.

A more drastic fix is to add a signal booster to your access point. A signal booster is a power amplifier that increases the transmission power of most wireless devices by a factor of five. A typical signal booster costs about $100.