I just set up a wireless network in a congested area where all the neighbors seem to also use wireless. My past experience has been in a more rural location where there are few competing networks. It has been an education!
The house had not previously had an internet connection, so Comcast pulled new wire into the house. The installer was experienced so I am confident there were no problems with the physical access to the cable modem.
When ordering the service from Comcast I was asked if I wanted a modem that would do wireless and I said yes. I said yes because past experience in a variety of situations has shown me that I should grab any opportunity to prevent a situation that might lead to finger pointing in the future. (It is the modem, no, it is the router, etc.)
Things seemed fine at first but it soon became obvious there was a serious problem with the data transmission rate. I could connect to sites just fine, but after using them for a few minutes page loads would get slower and slower. Soon they would time out and never load.
I called Comcast support and ended up at Level 2 support. They told me there was a problem, especially with Apple products, which could be fixed by changing the encryption level. That seemed to work.
Unfortunately, the problem soon came back. Within a week I was to the point of “This has to be fixed or you can pull your equipment and I will try something else.”
At that point Comcast set up an appointment for a tech to come by the next day to check things out. As always, talking to the people who actually have to support systems in the field was educational.
“Comcast does not support wireless networking.” was the first surprising thing I got told. There are two many variables, congestion, etc. for them to support it. Strange, that wasn’t mentioned when I order the service and specified a wireless capable modem.
“The modem (Arris) only supports 2.4 ghz” was the second unfortunate statement. In a congested area that means there are a lot of other wireless networks, garage door openers, and other devices cluttering up the spectrum. Translated, I think that means we supply a pathetic wireless device so we can say it is possible, but it doesn’t really work.
As with many technical problems, the answer seems to be “Spend more money.”
I am fortunate to have a friend who knows a lot about routers and he suggested an $80 Netgear. If I wanted the best they also have a $180 one that is supposed to be great. I asked about Apple (Airport Extreme) and was told I would be paying a lot for the logo.
I HATE router configuration. I am not good at it and it requires the ugliest kind of obsessive compulsive detail work. I bought the Apple and the only setting I had to enter was the password. That is my kind of install!
So far it seems to have solved the problem although the signal is not as strong as I would like in one bedroom. I am going to try moving the router around to see if I can get a signal path which doesn’t have to go through as many walls.