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Wifi extenders

(30 Posts)
Eastwickwitch Sat 13-Dec-14 15:12:07

New house, thick stone walls & wifi only in the top of the house.
We're with BT so rang to discuss the problem, they suggested an £80 home hot spot 500.
After hours of plugging it on & off, pressing random buttons etc then calls & online chat it appears this product is not compatible with Macs. They've agreed to a refund but what's the solution?
Luckily our electrician was savvy enough to put in a couple of ethernet cables around so we do have some internet.
wants to watch iplayer in bed
Anybody else had this problem?

RainyLion Sat 13-Dec-14 15:37:24

We have the same problem in our house and we have just got two solwise wifi extenders, like this..

http://www.broadbandbuyer.co.uk/products/15058-solwise-net-plv-500av-pewn/

dH set it up but from what I could tell it's a case of just plugging get them in and away you go! You do need to login to each one separately but most devices then just switch to whichever one is a stronger signal. Now I can mn in bed again! grin

Eastwickwitch Sat 13-Dec-14 16:00:12

Thanks so much Rainy, have you got a mac?

AtiaoftheJulii Sat 13-Dec-14 16:08:06

We have a repeater (sorry, not at home so can't check make) which seems to work ok. Have you looked at the powerline adapters that go through your mains? My ds uses that and it seems to work brilliantly. (Although I've just realised that's why he can't connect to our wireless printer!)

ladybird69 Sat 13-Dec-14 16:15:20

I've recently bought a plug in wifi extender from maplins. I'm a technophobe but it was easy to set up. Its net gear and cost £39.99, ive got wifi coverage over full house now.

RainyLion Sat 13-Dec-14 17:00:23

no don't have a mac, ours works on phones, ipads and laptop, so not sure about compatability with Mac

Eastwickwitch Sat 13-Dec-14 17:21:29

Thanks. I would imagine iPads work in a similar apple way. I've emailed the firm to ask for advice.

NetworkGuy Sun 14-Dec-14 21:25:06

AotJ - your DS ought to be able to use your wireless printer if the house router (connecting to your ISP) handles Wi-Fi for the rest of the computers... DS's computer should be able to access that printer via the Wi-Fi link that other devices are using - the router is presumably acting as the 'link' between your computer and the printer {so the fact DS is connected to the router a different way, doesn't matter}.

NetworkGuy Sun 14-Dec-14 22:04:25

Something like > this < in a room where your electrician has installed an ethernet cable should provide a 'hotspot' for that room {and perhaps an adjoining one}.

However, that type of device is ideal really for situations where the walls permit easy transmission and everything is wireless.

For speed, I recommend using a cable, and in my case, with a mix of kit that has WiFi and no WiFi, would use a router with the DHCP disabled. You would need 2 cheap s/h ADSL routers and configured to give wireless signals in the parts of the house where your cables end up.

You could use the same network name ("SSID") so moving a tablet from room to room would be no problem. Only the 'main' router would allocate IP addresses (the others would act as slave units, just passing data to/from the main router, and then to/from the ISP).

I have to admit I prefer cables to wireless but have recently had to use wireless for some devices in the house.

AtiaoftheJulii Sun 14-Dec-14 22:28:08

Thanks NetworkGuy - will have to go back to trying to work out why he can't then!

Rumandcokeplease Sun 14-Dec-14 22:31:16

Apple airport thing? Not 100% sure of the name but we have one and it works really well in our farmhouse with v thick stone walls!! If you've got an apple store near to you they'd probably explain how it works.

NetworkGuy Sun 14-Dec-14 23:53:08

There's a little utility called 'Fing' for phones and desktops (unfortunately I cannot run it on my OSX 10.6.8 Intel system, but I don't know why) which can list all the devices.

If you can run that (I have it on my Android mobile, and I feel sure there's a version for the iPhone if you use one), then it should display whether your printer is 'visible'. If it's connected to one of your computers, that might explain any problems (comes under 'sharing' problems, if it isn't independent of a computer being switched on).

Spocksmum Wed 17-Dec-14 18:55:54

Can I sneak in here and also ask about how to get more reliable wifi in our home? There's a Virginmedia broadband cable direct to the Netgear black box router thing, connecting to my desktop PC upstairs. Then there are 2 other desktop PCs downstairs but not directly below the cabled PC room.

Those 2 PCs have wifi and those little plug-in booster aerials but my DCs often lose wifi signal, despite their 'aerials'. Wifi is almost non existent in other rooms. How can we ensure that - most importantly, the 2 desktop PCs downstairs get ongoing wifi? I'm not sure what kind of gadget to buy that is compatible with a desktop PC and Virginmedia cable wireless broadband? Would I need to change any 'settings' if I got something to boost the wifi signal or are there devices you just plug in and immediately the wifi range is boosted/extended?

Would it be better to get Virginmedia to put another cable connection and router to the downstairs room with 2 PCs or would that be unnecessary cost - and probably a major major headache to arrange a time for someone to come out and do this? It can easily take almost a day to get through to the right person at Virginmedia, in my experience!

I'd happily pay for the best way to get totally reliable wifi/internet connection to all PCs in the house.

Cindy34 Thu 18-Dec-14 00:34:07

Spocksmum - do they even need to be WiFi? Could use PowerLine ethernet connectors, which could cost 25-30 pounds.

If WiFi is definitely needed, then you can get PowerLine WiFi extender but cost is quite a lot more.

The powerline things work by sending the data through your home electrics, so it gets around any thick walls/objects that may be causing WiFi trouble. You plug one into a power socket by your router, connect the ethernet cable to your router. Then you have the other part of it in the room where you need the connection. It will give you an ethernet port, or multiple ports depending on the version, and you can get one which has WiFi so you create a new wifi network.

NetworkGuy Thu 18-Dec-14 07:50:55

Spocksmum - getting VM involved would be extra expense when not needed. If the 2 desktops are in one room then as Cindy34 pointed out, you can get a HomePlug/ PowerLine unit (they are just alternate names but the technology is the same) with between 1 and 3 ethernet sockets on, so if both downstairs machines are in 1 room, and close enough (and you don't mind a bit of cable from the mains socket where the HomePlug is in), then a 2 or 3 socket unit would work fine.

Alternatively you could use one of the adaptors which has a wireless router inside, so it gives your downstairs room(s) a strong signal, and then links to one with an ethernet cable plugged into the VM router. With the Wi-Fi version you'd need to do a bit of setting up (to give it an SSID {network} name and wireless key {encryption code}) so no neighbours would be able to connect via your VM box, and so the downstairs PCs would "see" it's signal and connect to it.

Sometimes when setting up a wireless unit you have the choice of which channel number (1 to 11, from memory) to use. There are a few utilities for smartphones, and someting called InSSIDer for desktops which can list the different wireless networks (yours and your neighbours) so you can choose a channel number to give least interference to/from others.

If you are not using the wireless feature on your VM box upstairs, you could even disable that wireless and allow the downstairs one to be the only SSID network in your home. Reason I mention this is that some network devices would simply reconnect to your upstairs VM router even if you had used the same SSID on a device 10 feet away in the same room as the desktop so it would appear as if there was no difference possible...

I have to say that in a room where I had a choice, wireless would be second to cable (but having said that, a lot of people don't like having cables around the skirting boards, etc, etc, however neatly they are fixed / painted over / hidden). Wireless can give slower connections than cable (in part because only one device is allowed to transmit at a time, whereas with cables all devices can transmit and receive simultaneously).

schilke Fri 19-Dec-14 15:56:46

I have the bt hotspot 500 and it works fine with my Mac.

MatildaTheRedNosedReinCat Fri 19-Dec-14 16:00:19

I have 2 Devlo wifi boosters as recommended by the Sunday Times geek, they are totally brilliant and certainly work for my ipad.

Highly recommended. Only silly thing is the enormously long code you need to enter to set up but once done that's it. You do need to remember to switch the wifi on your device if you are moving it around the house. Easy.

Spocksmum Fri 19-Dec-14 19:35:58

Many thanks for the advice. Networkguy, I'm desperately thick with techy stuff and can't fully understand the idea of a cable as opposed to a wifi connection in the downstairs room? Would this be a cable from the outside VM cable or something completely unrelated to VM and, if so, how might that work? Would I need a massively long cable from the upstairs router to the downstairs room?

Obviously I'm a total idiot with these things! Is there an incredibly simple website with a lay person's description of what you and Cindy34 are talking about?

Eastwickwitch Fri 19-Dec-14 19:39:15

schilke did you just switch it on & go or do something techy special?
When we rang BT for advice they told us that lots of people have complained it's not Mac compatible.

TiddlesUpATree Fri 19-Dec-14 19:47:27

I had the same issue. Got a teknet repeater from amazon. Was around £15 I think and pretty easy to set up. Google the difference between extender and repeater it helped me understand what I needed. It works with my iPad ok. You may need a few of these.

schilke Fri 19-Dec-14 22:15:10

Sorry I told a complete lie blush The Mac is using the main hub in the sitting room for wireless connection. I don't know why I thought it was using the home spot. The home spot is in the hall. It connects well to my iPad and dh's iPhone.

I've just checked the Mac and it doesn't even list the home spot as a possible wifi connection. I have never noticed that before!

NetworkGuy Fri 19-Dec-14 22:17:06

Spocksmum - there's a 3 minute video about HomePlug > here on the Solwise web site <

The HomePlug /Powerline technology sends data through the mains wiring to avoid the need for a very long cable from upstairs to downstairs, but from the HomePlug adaptor to a computer there'd still need to be a cable (unless the HomePlug adaptor had Wi-Fi built in, so it acts like the router, allowing computers, phones and tablets to connect).

In your case, having a HomePlug unit with Wi-Fi could work, but it really depends on whether the two downstairs computers are in one room, or spread apart? If they are in one room, then a reliable connection could be achieved using a HomePlug adaptor with sockets for more than one cable (several firms make units that have 3 ethernet ports).

I've grabbed some images from the Solwise web site (the 200AV range). Upstairs you'd use the top-most unit, the single port unit (12.08), then downstairs you can choose between the 25.31 and 29.21 units...

If the computers are in the same room and close together then two short ethernet cables would be used from the computers to the adaptor. If you chose to use the cheaper one, you could still plug in up to 2 more devices, but no wireless signal would be involved (so no chance to use a mobile phone, or a tablet, for example).

For a bit more flexibility, use the 29.21 device. Then one computer could plug in with a cable, and the other could use Wi-Fi, or both could use cables, or both could use Wi-Fi. If both used cables to connect, that would be fine and they'd share the maximum speed available between the downstairs unit and upstairs, and there's still be the possibility of using Wi-Fi if some member of the family came to visit and wanted to use their phone or tablet (with your permission, of course).

Don't pay more than a couple of pounds per metre for ethernet cables - you can find lots of suppliers on Ebay and Amazon whereas some firms like PC World or Maplin might charge 5 quid, 10 quid, 15 quid or more.

I'd happily talk through your options if you want to message me - I have 2000 minutes a month on my mobile contract so could easily give you a call if you are still stuck with what options are open to you.

NetworkGuy Fri 19-Dec-14 22:37:49

schilke - "I've just checked the Mac and it doesn't even list the home spot as a possible wifi connection."

Hmmm, I was going to suggest it might have been the channel number that the hotspot was using (my Android mobile phones can see networks on channels 11 and 12 but my iMacs refuse to show them, as if their signal coverage is restricted to never received above a certain frequency (like having an FM radio that only went up to 98 MHz so never let you listen to 'Classic FM' even though the rest of your FM radios worked fine).

However, I've just spotted a thread on the BT 'Community' website all about different people being able to 'see' the Hotspot 500, and even 'connect' but then get reports of 'No Internet connections' so there's clearly something wrong with it (or with the Apple kit/ software).

Oldieandgoldie Fri 19-Dec-14 22:52:12

This is getting too complicated for me, but our set up is...

Original router
New Virgin 2g/5g router with new Virgin box
Huawei extender

So a choice of three networks

Wifi printer

This set up works with windows laptop, iPhones (2g), iPads (2g or 5g, but 5g keeps dropping depending on distance from router), and family MacBooks.

Printer and 'computer' (iPad/phone/laptop etc) all need to be logged on to same wifi network to be able to talk to each other.

Good luck! When it works it's great smile, but when it doesn't...angryangryangry

NetworkGuy Fri 19-Dec-14 23:09:08

They should not all need to be connected to the same Wi-Fi network, if you have only one (the new Virgin 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz router) with DHCP enabled.

If you have more than one router with DHCP enabled, then systems may get confused and not 'talk' properly.

If you can find 'fing' App for your iPhones or iPads you should be able to get a list of connected devices. If you connect a phone to one router and an iPad to the other router, you should see the same set of devices. If you don't, there's a problem (and I'd suggest turning the 'original router' off, if that is possible).

If you try again, with one device connected to the new Virgin router and another via the Huawei extender, then again they should list the same devices. If not, can you give me the model number for the Huawei, and I will see what I can find out.

I prefer cables, and have done since my networking days started in the late 70s. Wi-Fi is half way to magic, and sometimes it's black magic big headaches!

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