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How to extend Wi-Fi coverage

Make your wireless go further

How to make a wireless internet connection stretch down to the garden shed.

QUESTION Please tell me how I can enhance my wireless internet connection without spending too much. I have a Sky wireless router in my house, but my new home office is at the back of the garden in a cabin some 50m away. I can't get a wireless connection there. Are there any quick-fix solutions? Nick

HELPROOM ANSWER A 50m range is not beyond the realms of possibility for an up-to-date 802.11n wireless router. Unfortunately, Sky doesn't provide these; instead, it supplies customers with routers that use the slower 802.11g protocol. While 802.11g is fast enough to provide the full speed of the broadband service to a connected laptop or PC, it doesn't provide the extended range of 802.11n and is therefore unlikely to reach the end of your garden.

Furthermore, Sky's terms and conditions limit you to using its modem/router for connection to the service.

There is a workaround, however: you can buy a second router for use as an access point. This should be hooked up to your Sky router via one of its ethernet ports. This setup will then provide a stronger signal that's accessible from the cabin. The new router doesn't need to be an integral model, which will keep down costs somewhat.

If possible, position the new router close to the side of the house that's facing your cabin and ensure it's configured to use a Wi-Fi channel that won't interfere with any nearby networks – especially your own.

You can minimise the likelihood of interference by opting for a dual-band router. These can use a set of frequencies in a different range to the one provided by Sky. These routers are also much less commonly used, so you're more likely to get a clean signal across the garden. You would, however, need to have dual-band Wi-Fi adaptors in any devices that connect to the network, so you may need to buy a plug-in wireless card or dongle for the computer in your cabin.

At this point, wiring will probably become an issue. You can overcome this with a pair of HomePlug adaptors, which use your mains wiring to form a connection between the two routers. This enables you to place the router in a different room, perhaps at the rear of the house. If you have mains wired into your cabin, there's also a chance you could achieve a powerline connection directly to the Sky router without the need for a second router to be added.

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