WiFi War Breaks Out in Grass Valley, CA Neighborhood

Editor’s Note: Gish Gallop’s Webmaster Tim makes an appearance to report a local Internet issue, and he offers several solutions below.

When WiFi signals collide in crowded neighborhoods, tempers can flare in the household.
When WiFi signals collide in crowded neighborhoods, tempers can flare in the household.

Grass Valley, CA — The usually quiet Rhode Island street just south of downtown Grass Valley, CA erupted in another kind of quiet, but this time it was a silent war of WiFi Signals. As the popularity of  Wireless routers continues to grow, and more neighbors install such devices, people are finding that the radio signals are overlapping and “clobbering” each other. This has the effect of reducing both Internet speeds, but also can contribute to dropped and unreliable connections.

So one resident of Rhode Island Street decided to up the ante by purchasing an illegal signal booster to, in his words, “slam the neighbors signals into oblivion.”

“I got this WiFi signal booster off the Internet,” said a cocky Lee Corneys in a Gish Gallop interview. “It has all this gain and clobbers every one else’s signal. The funny thing is, you know these people are calling Comcast and complaining to them about their slow Internet.”

As if this signal jamming wasn’t enough, Mr. Corneys changes his WiFi ID or SSID to an obnoxious “CallComcast.”

“Yeah, that’s rich,” continued Mr. Corneys. “I know my signal is reaching both ends of the street and even down to Mill Street. So people will see this CallComcast on their wireless devices. I’m sure they’re calling. And there’s nothing anyone can do about it. Thanks Obama!”

Notes from Webmaster Tim

Hi, Webmaster Tim here.

One of things people can do to eliminate such issues, is purchase a more modern Wireless router that has an additional 5Ghz band. (Normal routers only have a 2.4Ghz band which doesn’t have a lot of “space” for many networks). The 5Ghz spectrum does not have the same range as 2.4Ghz, roughly about 1/2 the range, but that can be overcome with careful router placement and when necessary, repeaters that extend the signal.

Residents should also look into “Power line” network adapters for stationary devices like Personal Computers, xBoxes and other media appliances. Getting those items off the wireless networks can decrease congestion and improve performance.

Webmaster Tim Recommended Products:

 The Asus RT-N66U “Dark Knight”

Pros: This Dual-band (2.4 and 5Ghz) router is powerful and has both an excellent range and excellent speed. For those with some nerd in them, you can “flash” this router with open source firmware, which tend to be more flexible and offer more features above the stock Asus firmware. Both DD-WRT are available as well as “Shibby’s Tomato.” Gish Gallop office uses a Dark Knight with Shibby’s Tomato firmware.

Cons: It’s generally very reliable, but some have reported failures after a year. Might not be a bad idea to get the extended warranty. (Webmaster Tim note: I’ve had three of these over the past two years. One failed and was replaced by Asus. I would not hesitate to but another one.) Also, they’re not cheap, but you get what you pay for.

Power Line Networking

Either of the following are excellent solutions for creating a wired network over your household power lines. This is a great solution for technology that doesn’t need to be moved like Personal Computers, your DirecTV tuners, etc. Expect optimal performance around 80-100Mbps (that’s fast). If the wiring in your house is a little hay-wired, then expect performance between 20-50Mbps, even lower across circuit breaker panel phases (see cons).

Cons: depending on your household wiring, your speeds may vary. Speeds will suffer if you have to run your network across “the other phase” of your circuit breaker panel.

Software tools

Get a WiFi analyzer for your Android or iPhone Smartphone. It will allow you to select the WiFi channels with the least congestion.

For Android Phones:
Wifi Analyzer: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.farproc.wifi.analyzer

For iOS devices (now available again in iOS 8):
Network Analyzer Lite: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/network-analyzer-lite-wifi/

 

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