What to do if you're having trouble with wireless
It seems as though everyone and their dog has a wireless network nowadays. Typically found in small businesses and residences, wireless networks have found their way into large organizations as well.
We continue, however, to see and hear about wireless network implementations that aren't quite up to snuff. Other than unauthorized access, the biggest problem we come across is a dropping signal. On some computers, such drops could simply be a mild annoyance, lasting only a couple of seconds and resulting in brief pop-up messages. On other machines, a drop can last up to a minute or more.
There are a few simple things one can do to try and improve connectivity between the computer and the wireless network. The easiest thing is to change your wireless router's communication channel. Such a change can be done via the configuration page of your router and is pretty simple.
Wireless networks operate on radio frequencies. Wireless "G" routers can use any one of 11 available frequency channels, and most default to channel 6. As a result, a lot of routers interfere with each other.
Note that you won't need to do anything with your computer's configurations if you change the router's channel.
Wireless "N" routers broadcast in a different frequency, but channels can be changed as well. For the time being, wireless N networks aren't as widely deployed, so there is a smaller chance of interference with another router.
Channel changes can also help alleviate interference from devices such as cordless phones and microwave ovens. Wireless N typically isn't hit with this type of interference.
If a channel change doesn't help, there's a good chance that your router's signal is being blocked. Try putting the router in a central location, off the floor and away from walls and other barriers, especially metal or concrete.
If that's possible, you might consider replacing the router's antenna. Most wireless routers' antennae can be easily upgraded for a relatively nominal cost. Sometimes you'll need a stronger antenna, while other times you simply need a directional antenna that can be aimed toward your computers.
For longer distances, it may be better to implement a wireless repeater. Typical repeaters don't require any additional cabling and are placed between the router and the computer.
A final word about wireless N: While it promises improvement over "G" in terms of speed and resistance to interference, this standard has not yet been finalized. All "N" products available today are marketed as being compatible with the "draft standard." We don't expect significant deviation from this standard, but those of you contemplating a significant investment in "N" might want to wait. Publication of the final standard is expected later this year.