How do I maximize my router’s wireless (WiFi) range?

Beverly McRae

Symptom: Not able to connect to the WiFi at a range that is within the published Wi-Fi Range for said CradlePoint router.Cause: There could be multiple causes for this issue.Resolution:      First, keep in mind what type of range your router is CAPABLE of providing. The CTR350, PHS300, and CTR500 all use wireless “G” for their Wi-Fi radio, and most users see a typical range of 60-100 feet, depending on walls and interference. The and MBR1000 and MBR1200, MBR1200B, MBR1400, MBR95, CTR35 and MBR900 have the more powerful wireless “N” radio and can provide several hundred feet of wireless range, depending on walls and interference. While these are just rough averages – using the CTR350 in an open field with zero interference may provide more than 60-100 feet, while folks using an MBR1000 in a building with thick walls around multiple interfering electronic devices may not see their signal travel very far – it is important to recognize what to reasonably expect from your router. The tips below should help you get the most out of your router’s Wi-Fi signal, but there ARE limitations with any router.

  1. Move your router: Sounds obvious, but this is the easiest and often the most effective way to extend your Wi-Fi range! Invest a bit of time by trying a few different locations for your router, and see which spot provides the best performance. The antennas that broadcast the signal (both the internal ones on the CTR350/PHS300/CTR500/MBR1200 and the built-in external antennas on the MBR1000/MBR900) are Omni-directional, meaning they radiate the signal best when centered – try putting the router in a centralized location. Make sure the router is not on the floor – placing it higher up on a table or shelf generally gets better results.  If you need your router in a specific part of the house because the cellular signal is better in one location (by a window, for example), try moving the router around 15°, 45°, 90° (or if you’re using the MBR1000 or MBR900, move the antennas) – minor changes can have drastic effects!
  2. Minimize Obstructions/Interference: Besides obvious obstructions like walls, there is a LOT of other things that can interfere with Wi-Fi signal. Electronics, particularly other routers and devices that operate on the 2.4Ghz frequency like cordless phones, baby monitors, garage door openers, and wireless cameras, can impede signal, but so can microwaves, computer cables, stainless steel refrigerators, mirrors, and even fluorescent lights (really!). Any of these can reduce your Wi-Fi signal or cause pauses or dropouts in the transmission. Try to put your router in a spot where interference is limited (or, if the router can’t be moved, move the offending interferer [the cordless phone, baby monitor, etc.]). If you’re using a USB modem and you have a USB extension cable, use it – this can help minimize the interference that is caused by having the Wi-Fi and cellular radios so close together.  If you’re not sure if electronics are causing interference with your router, you can test by turning off EVERYTHING electronic in the home/office where you’re testing, except for the router and the computer you’re testing with. If the performance is better with everything else off, you will know that something in the home/office is indeed interfering with the signal and you can then work to figure out what it is
  3. Add Wi-Fi antennas to your router if it has external antenna ports: The MBR1200 and MBR1400 feature two ports for adding external Wi-Fi antennas, and there are several options available: the Cradlepoint MBR1200 Wi-Fi Antennas, for example.  Please note these antennas will not work with other routers and that you must use Wi-Fi antennas in PAIRS with the MBR1200 – using just one antenna will NOT work.
  4. Upgrade your computer’s Wi-Fi card to “N” if you’re using an “N” router: The MBR1000, MBR900, and MBR1200 utilize wireless “N” for the Wi-Fi radio, which offers a wider range than the “G” radio used by other routers. Those routers are backwards compatible with wireless “G” and “B”, but to take full advantage of the more powerful “N” signal, the receiving computer should also be wireless “N”. Luckily, it’s super easy to upgrade your computer – you can just attach an “N” adapter to a USB port on your computer and you will be able to take better advantage of the “N” range!
  5. Change the Channel: Try changing the channel on which your Wi-Fi is broadcasting through your router’s configuration page. How to Change the Wireless Channel on a Series 2 CradlePoint or How to Change the Wireless Channel of a Series 3 CradlePoint
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