Wi-Fi Repeater

I was recently tasked with boosting the Wi-Fi signal within the office premises. The primary Wi-Fi source was 10 m away from the office and within a separate building. The device was in a small study room and about four walls stood between us and the device hence a low signal reception. Two solutions presented themselves:

  1. Buy a Wi-Fi repeater
  2. Use an existing Wi-Fi router as a repeater

Solution no. 2 seemed better in the long run as it made both economic and scalability sense i.e. the router can be different modes unlike a repeater which, once bought, remains a repeater. I had two Wi-Fi routers, a Cisco Linksys and a TP-Link.

repeaters

The Cisco Linksys E900 was the original router connected to the ISP modem but I replaced it with the TP-Link one since it was more powerful in terms of signal range. The Linksys would therefore act as a repeater. But I would bridge both routers without the use of an Ethernet cable since both devices were located in two separate neighbouring buildings. The solution was to create a wireless bridge as explained in this article.

However, the firmware loaded on the Linksys router did not have the option of creating a repeater. This limitation prompted me to do more research and I come across an open source firmware called DD-WRT for routers and embedded systems; this firmware supports Repeater mode for routers as indicated on this blog article. There’s a database list for supported devices; the E900 is on the list and therefore I followed the instructions at this link.

I followed the instructions to the letter since any mistake would have bricked the device. So ensure that when you’re flashing your router with a new different firmware, your device type/ model is supported.

May 20, 2014

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“Let’s QWERTY” Revolution

10 years ago, you had to be a business person or a well to do (financially speaking) guy to own a phone with a QWERTY keypad (Ahem! Blackberry). That big desktop/laptop keyboard was shrunk into a single mobile phone to make it easy to type email messages. Of course if one owned a QWERTY phone they were top of the game.

2003 BB Model
A 2003 BB Model. Image Source: GSMArena.com

But today, I’ve observed that in my home country, Kenya, many people own QWERTY phones all thanks to affordable good quality phones sold by Nokia and Samsung. QWERTY phones no longer recognize a particular social/economical class status. Now everybody has the freedom of typing with ease unlike the normal small mobile keypad that has been around for many years. My point is that mobile phones are evolving in becoming more user friendly and you don’t need a smartphone with a QWERTY feature. Mobile phones such as the Nokia X2-01, C3, Asha 201 and Samsung Ch@t 527 are feature phones with internet connectivity features. Yet again this maybe ¬†a ¬†tranisition towards affordable smart phones as the world becomes more connected. People are hungry for information and they need to communicate through cheaper means such as the internet.

Nokia X2-01 is a popular QWERTY phone in Nairobi. Image Source: GSMArena.com

With time, smart phones will dominate the mobile user market (urban context) but of course both basic and feature phones will still be around because they will be well suited for rural dwellers. So, do you own an affordable QWERTY feature phone? Is it better that the normal basic/feature phone?

May 25, 2012

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