Next-Gen Wireless Worse than Last-Gen?

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Next-Gen Wireless Worse than Last-Gen?

Ask the Doctor LogoI have a Netgear WNDR3300 dual-band router that broadcasts both 802.11g and 802.11n signals. Today, I noticed that in certain areas of my house, the 802.11g signal is actually stronger than my 802.11n signal, by a lot! Shouldn’t this be the other way around? Currently, the router sits atop a bookcase in my basement as I don’t have anywhere to put it upstairs. The signal comes from a cable modem and is attached to a Windows 7 Pro 64-bit computer. What gives?

—Brian L.

Brian, the WNDR3300 is equipped with two radios and is capable of operating 802.11n networks on either the 2.4GHz frequency band or the 5GHz frequency band. An 802.11g network can operate only on the 2.4GHz frequency band.

You didn’t say which radio is running your 802.11n network, but 5GHz radio waves have a much more difficult time penetrating obstacles such as walls and ceilings than 2.4GHz waves do.  If you are using the 5GHz radio for 802.11n, that could explain why your 802.11g network delivers better range than your 802.11n network.

The difference between 802.11g and 802.11n devices is that the latter utilizes MIMO technology (multiple input/multiple output). MIMO turns a weakness—multi-path distortion, or the propensity of radio waves to reflect off objects in the environment—into an advantage. In theory, this should enable the 802.11n side of your Wi-Fi router to deliver better range than its 802.11g side.

 

SUBMIT YOUR QUESTION Are flames shooting out of the back of your rig? First, grab a fire extinguisher and douse the flames. Once the pyrotechnic display has fizzled, email the doctor at doctor@maximumpc.com for advice on how to solve your technological woes.

 

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