OT: wifi setup advice

Just had one of those phone calls I dread...
My 76-year-old mum has recently seen a netbook (ie a mini internet-enabled laptop), decided it's the best thing since sliced bread, she wants one, and how does she go about it?
Far be it from me to dissuade her from this course - it's great that she's such a technophile at her age, but I groaned inwardly at all the implications, especially as she lives at the other side of the country and I very rarely visit there (she prefers to come to us). (I spend a fair amount of time using XP's "Remote Assistance"!)
Currently she accesses the internet via a hard-wired desktop PC on ADSL broadband in the spare bedroom; hence the main use for the proposed netbook is so she can use the internet downstairs sitting in front of the fire keeping my dad company while watching TV, and can then put it away easily when not needed.
So the main issues are:
1. Converting her existing connection to to WiFi 2. Ensuring adequate signal downstairs in the living room.
Regarding (1); I don't know a hell of a lot about her setup as personally I have a cable modem plus router; I know she currently has ADSL which I think she got as a package from her ISP, OneTel (now TalkTalk), so presumably she has a modem between her phone and the PC.
What should I be looking for in terms of new kit? Does she need a wireless router which will sit between the existing modem and the old PC, or should she have a new combined modem/router thingy from TalkTalk or something? Or maybe either? I'm looking for the simplest solution for setting up really.
The second worry - ensuring adequate signal. It's quite a long way from the spare room to the living room, with really old thick walls, so I'm concerned the wifi signal won't reach from a router upstairs. We won't know till we've tried it I suppose, so if that happens what are the options? What are the constraints on where the router has to sit - just near enough to the desktop PC to be connected physically? I know she certainly won't want ethernet cable running through the house. Would this be down to one of those Homeplug network extender things (ie using the house mains as a network) with some form of wireless access point downstairs? There's a standard BT phone in the living room if that makes any difference.
Any advice much appreciated!
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If you get a wi-fi router/modem it can connect to the phone cable at any point (provided you have filters on the other phone sockets). It may be worth putting a phone socket mid-way between the upstairs room and the living room to maximise the signal to each. You will either have to get a wi-fi card or USB wi-fi for the desktop, or get some cat-5 cable to run between the router and the desktop. If you get a type-N wi-fi it may have enough range anyway (provided the laptop has type-N wi-fi).
If the netbook will be XP/Vista, you might want to consider getting a PAYG mobile broadband dongle that she can swap between the desktop and netbook as required. We bought one from 3 a few months ago, £50 for the dongle and then £10 gives 30 days or 1Gb downloads. Since she already has a broadband connection, it's probably not going to be worthwhile in her case, but it's a pretty cheap way to get basic broadband (if she's in a good reception area that is).
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I recently set up a router which is approx 15 Meters and 3 single breeze block walls from the notebook location and the signal doesn't get through, however if I move into an adjacent room say 10 Meters and 2 single breeze block walls it works perfectly. The router is a Siemens Gigaset SE587 unit. I got the info for setting it up from: http://portforward.com/english/routers/wireless/Siemens/Gigaset-SE587/wireless.htm
Which I found very informative, I think they have info for other routers also.
Hope this helps
Don
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Donwill wrote:

http://portforward.com/english/routers/wireless/Siemens/Gigaset-SE587/wireless.htm
I can confirm that breeze blocks especially the early 1930s cinder blocks are not at all transparent at WIFI frequencies. My house is 15m long and there is no signal from one end to the other through 3-4 walls. I would strongly advise putting the router in the room where the laptop will be used or at most, the room next door or above, no further away.
Also make sure your router has at least one wired port to ease set up. It is just possible to set a router up over the wireless link but there is 1 way to get it right and 101 ways to get it wrong!! Hopefully the new laptop will have an ethernet port but if not keep the original PC functional to do the set up.
Good Luck
Bob
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Donwill wrote:

http://portforward.com/english/routers/wireless/Siemens/Gigaset-SE587/wireless.htm
Of a blue peter lashed-up (a couple of baked bean tins) wave guide would solve this problem
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Lobster wrote:

Well you can go either way... however I think I would leave the existing kit alone, and add a wireless access point. At least that way you know you have working remote access to at least one machine while you setup/debug the wireless. You can also config the wireless independently of needing to know the ADSL login and password, just in case she is not able to find them.
Something like:
http://www.ebuyer.com/product/45025
is easy to setup and has decent range.

The above units are not bad. I put one in a fairly solid brick built presbytery a while back and could get access is all the rooms through fairly heavy masonry. It even worked in the church adjacent.
However, if you can't get a signal, then a pair of homeplugs would be the best answer - in effect extending the network down to a closer location where you can then fit the WAP.
The only complication you may run into is the existing router may be a single ethernet port device which makes connecting another device difficult without a switch. If this is the case then I would get one of the home plug units with three ports into it:
http://solwise.co.uk/net-powerline-pla-85-3e.htm
There are other solutions that may work out cheaper and use fewer boxes, however you may find you need to get them all working remotely in one hit.
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Cheers,

John.

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In an earlier contribution to this discussion,

The only problem with that is that the "existing kit" may well a USB modem rather than an ethernet modem/router - in which case there's nothing to which to connect the access point.
Even if there *is* a non-wireless router already, a new wireless modem/router would probably be cheaper than the access point - simply because they're sold in much larger volumes.
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Cheers,
Roger
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Roger Mills wrote:

True, but the usual TalkTalk modem has both...

Agreed it will cost a bit more doing as I described, however it also buys you a little more flexibility with the sighting of the wireless base. Also, as I alluded to, if I were setting one up remotely with a non technical user, it would be nice to be able to do it with access to their network via a working ADSL connection.
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Cheers,

John.

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John Rumm wrote:

First - my apologies if two version of this appears twice - first one went by googlegroups but appears to have vanished without trace...
Many thanks for the replies. I've managed to gain a bit more info from my poor old mum grovelling around under her PC desk with a torch! It seems she has a "Speedtouch 330" plugged into the back of her PC, which Google tells me is a USB-only modem, right? So will definitely need replacing?
What I'm now considering is buying in enough kit for the worst-case scenario, making a trip over to Mum's to set it up, and then returning any surplus equipment. ie, if it turns out the wifi doesn't extend downstairs, that means bridging the gap with a pair of HomePlugs, with the downstairs one connected to a wireless access point of some sort, and the upstairs one connected to a hardwired router, which is hooked up to both the phone line and PC's RJ45 socket? (ie, no point risking getting a combined wireless router for upstairs?)
If that's correct, could anybody point me at some appropriate kit for this?
One other point - am I right in thinking that the new 'n' wifi standard is likely to give better range (through walls/floors?!) and would be worth investing in?
Thanks David
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Lobster wrote:

only seen this one so far... ;-)

Yup sounds that way.

Probably not. You can get ADSL routers with built in homeplug as well if you want. e.g:
http://www.solwise.co.uk/adsl-sar605eh.htm
That would reduce the amount if extra stuff you need. Having said that, ADSL routers with wireless can be had for not much more than the price of ordinary ADSL routers.
(in fact a wireless access point with built in homeplug might be a nice solution - that way she can shift the wireless bit about should needs change)

Netgear and Linksys stuff seems ok. The Solwise range of stuff is ok, especially their homeplug gear. Their routers can often be improved by flashing with the routertech firmware (http://www.routertech.org /)

Its certainly better it seems. Have a read of the last bit on this page:
http://www.solwise.co.uk/wireless-11n-intro.html
Having said that - 11g will do what you need well enough for less. Note also that the laptop probably does not have 11n support by default.
With 11n make sure you buy all your kit from the same supplier - since its early days and incompatibility may still be a problem.
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Cheers,

John.

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John Rumm wrote:

Thanks a lot John. I've spent some time going through the solwise site now - they certainly have some really cool kit, especially the wireless homeplug thing! Wonderful idea, and I'm definitely going to include that in my shopping list for her - being able to move it round the house is perfect, and having a moveable, plug-in job with an aerial attached would be very user-understable for my Mum - ie, if she's getting a poor signal, just go and fetch the gizmo and plug in in near where she's working.
The solwise site is really good - lots of very clear explanations for the novice about wi-fi etc and what's needed.
Actually, having thought about it some more I think I may have just persuaded her to move the goalposts a bit, and to dump her existing desktop (and her proposed new netbook) PCs in favour of a single new desktop-replacement laptop which she can use primarily in the spare bedroom (in conjuction with her existing monitor/keyboard/mouse) and then lug the laptop alone to use downstairs when she wants. I've been worried about having two machines to maintain via 'Remote Assistance'!; also concerned about the inevitable confusion of having copies of files on different PCs and the whole network resources thing. Finally it will let her use her email (Outlook Express) downstairs as well as upstairs - that wouldn't be feasible with the desktop/notebook scenario.
Thanks to all again. David
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yesterday I fitted Netgear Rangemax, easy process, covers all over house and they answered by support request with some good info within 24 hours. To get its best speed, you want to use a Rangemax card or USB stick thing in the laptop end. I can now sit in bed and use my Dell mini to speak to you lot. My one is ethernet connected by they seem to have different kits for different setups. She might even like (switchoffable) blue fairy lights it has :-)
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On Wed, 10 Dec 2008 23:55:39 +0000, Lobster wrote:

Eminently sensible with many chains offering no quibble returns policies. Or even if you buy from an independant explain your situation and you may well get the same sale or return. After all you aren't going to open anything you don't need to use...

Might be worth a diagram or two of the set up so you can work out the kit and cables you need. nothing like a diagram to highlight an extra bit of string that isn't supplied with the kit or extra mains distribution board for the wall warts. Don't foreget a network card for the PC if that currently uses USB for the link to the ADSL modem. B-)

Personally I'd look at an ADSL router with built in firewall and a small (4 port?) ethernet switch and have a seperate, ethernet connected, wireless access point. A single box for everything is a single point of failure, a simple ethernet modem/firewall, network switch and WAP is even more resiliant but does increase the number of boxes, wires and wall warts. Means that the local LAN can still be used if the ADSL modem gets zapped by lightning or something...

Possibly but the lowest WiFi should be running faster than the ADSL unless your Mum is close to a 21CN enabled exchange or one with up to 24Mbps LLU and has that service. Of course if she wants to start streaming HD video wirelessly around then she'll need the highest wireless speed she can get. Be aware that like ADSL most WiFi speeds are "up to", the real world can be very different...
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Cheers
Dave.




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It doesn't because a wireless router can be used as an access point anyway. You just turn off the built in DHCP and connect it to the LAN using a LAN port. My 802.11a network uses a netgear router as an access point and the 802.11G uses the sky router.
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You seem to have dug up a rather old thread...
IIRC the original thread was about adding access to a non cabled location in a house with potentially hostile construction to WiFi.
dennis@home wrote:

It doesn't what exactly?

Hmmm, and?
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John.

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I know, I just fired up my old machine and it sent it. I must have shut the lid before it was sent before.
That's the trouble with having too many machines.
I tried to cancel it but there wasn't much chance.
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On Tue, 09 Dec 2008 14:57:23 +0000, John Rumm

Or you can use a another access point as a repeater/range extender.

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(='.'=) Owing to the amount of spam posted via googlegroups and
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Mark wrote:

Yes, that can also work. Requires more configuration and setting up though. Homeplugs tend to just work out of the box.
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John.

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On Wed, 10 Dec 2008 10:51:07 +0000, Mark wrote:

Which halfs the through put on the wireless side as only one thing can transmit at a time. Probably not an problem in this particular case but worth bearing in mind.
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"Lobster" wrote

snip........ Looks like the hardware issues have been covered by others - so I will just add the bit about security. Make sure you enable security on the wireless LAN so your mother's surfing is private.
Phil
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