I’ve been having some problems with my wireless Wi-Fi network connection at home for the last couple of months. Most of the time the network works fine, but occasionally the network slows down to the point where it becomes unusable. This happens mainly in the evening and I believe is due to interference from a neighbour’s wireless network.
At first I found that I could get around the problem by changing the wireless channel on my Belkin Wireless Access Point / Wireless router which worked for a while, but the problems came back again and again. The impact varied between what computer I was using and seamed to be particularly bad on my Dell Inspiron 15R laptop. The distance between my wireless access point (WAP) and my computer didn’t make much difference either.
My wireless access point was a Belking 802.11g 54mb device and as my laptops now have 8.2.11n 100mb built in networking I thought it may be worth trying with a new wireless access point. I therefore bought a Belkin N Wireless Cable Router with integrated 4 port switch. The upgrade in bandwidth / speed is not a big issue, the main use for the network is to share the broadband connection which is at 10mb much less than the wireless network. I do use the network to create a backup copy of my photos which will benefit from a speed increase. Ths version is capable of speeds higher than the standard 100mb, but that is a draft standard and I have not tried that functionality.
Note that the Belkin N Wireless router is available in two types. One referred as the cable version is for use with cable broadband where there is a cable modem (also useful where used on an internal network port as in my case) the other is the ADSL version which includes a built in ADSL modem where the broadband is supplied as ADSL over a standard phone line (using ADSL splitters).
If connecting directly to the Internet connection then Virgin Media cable customers will normally need the cable version, whereas BT / Sky customers will normally need the ADSL version:
The Belkin N Wireless Cable Router was reasonably priced (around £ 40). Although it comes with a setup CD for Windows I performed all the configuration from a Linux laptop that I connected directly to the wired port on the router. To connect was as simple as connecting to the laptop and then pointing the browser (Firefox) to 192.168.2.1. Note that this may be the more common 192.168.1.1 on a new setup / connected directly to the broadband cable modem, but in my case I had connected it to my home network which was already running on 192.168.1.0/24
I could then configure the various options through the web interface. This router has all the functionality that you would expect from a wireless router (eg. NAT / routing / port forwarding), but in my case I disabled all this and set it to work as a Wireless Access Point so that I could use it to replace my previous WAP without needing to change my home network setup.
One thing that was a little frustrating is that the router needed to reboot, or at least spend time doing a soft reset when each change was made. This even included just changing the administrator password. This meant a lot of time during the install waiting for the router to reboot. Once the router is configured then you don’t normally have to make many changes, but this does mean taking down the internal network for some minor changes.
I’ve not overly stressed the new router so far, but at least it seams to cope much better with the interference. The wireless network connection does still slow down at times, but the performance is much better than previous and it is now possible to continue working which was not possible before.
A cheap and easy to use router capable of high speed networking if required. Easy to setup and works well with Linux.
Only complaint is the fairly minor issue that it needs to reboot the router when making changes to the setup.