Software Development investigate

Ditch the problem router and move to Wireless-N

If you've been having problems with your Wireless-G Wi-Fi, it might be time to consider an inexpensive upgrade to Wireless-N.

I'd been noticing a problem cropping up on my home network.

Websites would generate a "cannot connect" error in the browser and a suggestion to reset the connection, although refreshing the page would produce it correctly. Sometimes a website would appear in a long list of text and graphics, and refreshing would correct the problem. I had no luck in finding a solution, as it appeared in multiple browsers at random times. I also found my Wi-Fi access slowing down occasionally, and if someone started transferring a file across the wireless network, every other user slowed to a crawl.

I had no idea whether these problems were related, but I did realise that I now had three phones, two Windows Surfaces, and four desktops connected wirelessly. As Christmas approached, I decided to give the household a present, and upgrade our wireless network.

If you have had Wi-Fi in your home and workplace for some time, then the odds are that you are using a Wireless-G modem/router with a speed of around 54Mbps. The Wireless-N standard has been out for some time, and promises a maximum of 300Mbps, but the real speed is usually lower than this.

After a quick look at eBay, I purchased an Asus DSL-N12U-B1 Wi-Fi Wireless-N 300Mbps LAN Switch ADSL ADSL2+ Modem Router for around AU$90. I didn't really need the modem part, as I have a Telstra cable connection, but if I ever go to ADSL, it will be useful.

(Credit: Tony McSherry/TechRepublic)

I replaced my old Netgear Wireless G router, and, after some browser-based set-up on the new router, the Wi-Fi network was up. However, while our phones and Surface tablets supported Wireless-N, most of the other devices were Wireless-G, so I had also purchased some USB Wireless-N dongles for around AU$10 each. I'm used to some sort of external antenna on my Wi-Fi adapters, and these seemed remarkably small, but the price certainly suited. Although obviously rebadged, Windows identified the adapter as a Realtek RTL8191SU Wireless LAN 802.11n USB 2.0 Network Adapter.

Once I installed the USB Wi-Fi adapters, I tried out web access and found pages appearing quickly and with no problems. My wireless speed was now 144.5Mbps, nearly triple my previous speed, although nowhere near 300Mbps. Signal strength was also better than my previous Wireless-G adapters, so it appears that external antenna are no longer needed, or my new router has better coverage — probably a combination of both.

(Credit: Tony McSherry/TechRepublic)

I connected my lounge-room media PC to the router by Ethernet cable, and tested my download speed — 30Mbps, which had previously only been showing 12Mbps on my old router. It appeared that my old router was either malfunctioning or had been stuck on 10Mbps Ethernet rather than 100. My result from Speedtest.Net from a Wi-Fi-connected PC was the same as the Ethernet connection, so I'm beginning to think that my old router just couldn't keep up.

File transfers over the network are much slower than the maximum connection speed, and I was unable to get more than around 60Mbps on large file transfers between some of my older PCs, but this was still much faster than my previous wireless network.

I've been using the system for around two weeks now, and have had none of my previous problems. Web access has noticeably improved. If you've been having problems with your Wireless-G Wi-Fi, it might be time to consider an inexpensive upgrade to Wireless-N.

About

Tony is the owner and managing director of Microcraft eLearning and is one of the creators of the AUTHOR eLearning Development System.

17 comments
defecta
defecta

I'm just surprised to read that a tech writer has stuck by 802.11g for so long and is only now beginning to reap the benefits of faster wireless. =) And for other commenters that have resisted upgrading to N because they have G games consoles, despite the large selection of dual band Wifi routers available that CAN do dual band properly (granted not in a sub $100 price range), if there is nothing wrong with your G router, a lot of models can be turned into a WiFi access point which you could use along side your shiny new N router.

Washburns
Washburns

Once you upgrade your router, check your cable modem if you are on cable. Mine was probably as old as my router. Exchanging it with my provider (free if you are renting it) tripled my download speed. While doing this I discovered adding a phone to my package dropped my monthly bill for cable and phone to $15 less than I was paying for cable alone and doubled my cable speed. Also check the cable on anything connected to the router by cable, if it isn't Cat5 or higher replace it for another nice jump in throughput.

iTrucker
iTrucker

I have that kind of a problem, but until now I got my wireless speed from the slow 54-130Mbps to the faster 300-450Mbps... the laptop itself was able to run 150Mbps so there was two things to ditch... the network card inside the laptop and the router... and then came a 3rd problem... my laptop wasn??t born with 3 antennas, so I had to rip my older laptop to get that 3rd antenna. I still us the same router as before, because there is a build-in modem that I can??t replace that easy... but I do have a faster wireless up-to 450Mbps (3x faster before) and 1000Mbps on cable (10x faster than before)... The next goal is to ditch the old router (300Mbps) with build-in modem and let the new router (450Mbps) work with a modem that have a giganet port too...

lamontgreen12
lamontgreen12

I would love to take your advice, but hey Tony first learn how to spell the word "realise" then come back and talk to me,,,,, alright there bucko,,!!!

mike
mike

Nowadays almost every WiFi router supports multiple SSID's (I bought one for 13 pounds this month), and I use one SSID with WPA2-AES encryption for the 'N' devices and a second guest SSID for the Nintendo DS's with WEP encryption. Yes they do share the same channel but at least I can connect via the two types of encryption to give me 'N' throughput as well as legacy 'G' connectivity.

dknispel
dknispel

One item that has kept me from upgrading to N is that the old Nintendo DS's we have in the household only support G. I've tried the dual band wireless network routers but they only support one type of encryption key and once you use the G encryption key you can't use the N network. Frustrating. Glad it is working for you.

iTrucker
iTrucker

About you nice solution with the old router... dont forget to consider the possible interference into the solution... old and new is not the best combo when it come to wireless connections... and some old routers can not slow down the new router if you dont know how to setup a access point the right way... just saying ;)

iTrucker
iTrucker

But they cant offer me the same speed as I got now... their router was able in a very difficult way to run 300Mbps, but it did cost me some other missing things, so... I payed for a router & networkcard myself... My new router do run 1000Mbps on the Cat5 and that is very fast for that old PC there is on that cable... Pentium 4 from 2002... ;)

JCitizen
JCitizen

I've seen "N" wireless routers with just two antennas; maybe you're just joking about that on the laptop. :)

mudpuppy1
mudpuppy1

should have been the fact that he spent AU$90 (approximately US$95) for the router. That is Australian dollars. They don't use the American spelling of realize. He spelled it correctly for his locale.

rmsage
rmsage

American spelling is not used in every country where English is spoken, including the UK, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and others.

JamesKelley
JamesKelley

Learn proper use of punctuation, and avoid the ad hominem fallacy.

OkeyM
OkeyM

I have a netgear DualBand Wireless access point. My house has a myriad of old and new devices accessing the network, Windows PC, old iPod, several game consoles, multipple smartphones phones (iphones, Blackberry, Samsung), a couple of MacBooks, wireless printers, Sony wireless blueray and internet media player, Sony Bravia. My device supports multiple SSID and I use both, one public that allows my guests to have access to internet without too much hassle but with no access to my private network

iTrucker
iTrucker

I??m not joking... its a Intel® Centrino® Ultimate-N 6300 PCIe Half MiniCard in the laptop. Google it and you will see the 3 antennas... my router is an TP- Link TL-WR2543ND also with 3 antennas. Both able to use 2.4GHz or 5GHz band.

iTrucker
iTrucker

about the real world... the title "Ditch the problem router" didn??t cover the PC/laptop itself... very important issue when you kick the router out of the windows... So just to make these comment of mine usefull for more people... When you change one component, you often have to change another component in the component group. Most laptops have a standard network card built in, so you can often improve your speed by first simply upgrade the network card in the laptop !

JCitizen
JCitizen

but I imagine a lot of Jill and Joe Six Packs, don't have a clue as to why their old lappy can't talk to their brand spanking new "N" wifi router - or vise-versa!