Do Additional Users of Wireless Router Signal Affect Signal?

Discussion in 'Wireless Internet' started by pattyjamas, Mar 2, 2005.

  1. pattyjamas

    pattyjamas Guest

    Do Additional Users of Wireless Router Signal Affect Signal?

    Perhaps a dumb question, but a neighbor asked me if they had more than
    one person using the Internet via Wireless (in a home) would it affect
    the signal strength? (she complains at times a signal gets dropped)

    Thanks for your opinions/facts. (Windows 2000, Linksys WRT54G)

    pattyjamas, Mar 2, 2005
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  2. Depends... (on what "signal" means).
    That doesn't sound like she means "signal strength" so much as
    she just means that the "connection" goes away.

    It should not affect signal strength at all, but there are a
    number of scenarios where she might see a lost connection, or at
    least what appears to be a lost connection.

    One would be if the signal actually does fade, and the bit rate
    is reduced to something low enough to be noticed. With one user
    it might be acceptable, with two users that same rate might
    appear to someone with an interactive process (and sharing the
    network with someone doing a massive file transfer) as "a signal
    gets dropped".

    Also keep in mind that two users might well be able to cause
    congestion for the Internet connection, and they might assume
    it is the wireless.
    Floyd L. Davidson, Mar 3, 2005
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  3. pattyjamas

    pattyjamas Guest

    Thanks. Funny Best Buy Geey Squad I spoke to tonight says it should not
    matter how many people are on the wireless (within reason)--it should
    still hold the connection. I assume with 4 people all on at same time
    (with one being wired) it should not drop the signal. The person is
    telling me that she is unable to get on. However I told her to try it
    again with a few people in her family on and see what the results are.
    Not sure there should be much congestion with just browsing and email
    among 4 computers. However, perhaps one of the computers (laptop) has a
    low tolerance adapter built-in. The other has a PCMCIA card, One has a
    USB Wireless Adapter, and the other hard - wired. All Linksys with
    SpeedBooster all the way around with 7DBI antennas.
    Soon she will add a Range Extender since she has some funky walls as
    tested with my Wi-Fi Detector. I think also the main signal ends up
    oging thru her kitchen and she cooks a lot...not sure electrical
    interference can do much. I realize Microwave and 2.4ghz phones

    Thanks, Patty
    pattyjamas, Mar 3, 2005
  4. That's generally true for small numbers of connections. However, the
    bridging table on many access points overflows as the number of
    *ACTIVE* connections increase. The original WAP11 would lock up solid
    if you had more than 31 connections. Later versions of the firmware
    sorta worked around the problem where it just slowed down (while
    thrashing) but at least didn't hang. Most of the current access point
    will handle at least 100 active MAC addresses before doing something
    disgusting (because I tried it on a few and I know it works). The
    really nifty access points (Proxim, Cisco, Symbol) will handle up to
    about 2000.
    Getting disconnected is NOT the same as "dropping the signal". The
    signal should remain functional and nobody should be disconnected,
    regardless of the number of users.
    "Get on" can have many meanings. The connection process has several
    step and layers. At which point is the connection failing?
    1. Associate with an SSID.
    2. Exchange encryption (WEP or WPA) keys.
    3. DHCP assigned IP address and gateway.
    4. Surf the web.
    No model numbers? Speedboost tends to get in the way when enabled in
    an access point. The AP keeps trying to negotiate a speedboost
    connection with whatever happens to be connected. While it's busy
    doing that, all connections are essentially comatose. Eventually, it
    recovers and goes back to non-speedboost mode. However, if it takes
    too long to recover, then the client side might time out, resulting in
    your observed connection loss. My astute guess is that with 4ea
    clients, it might take too long for the last client to give up
    negotiating a speedboost connection and timing out some of the other
    connections. Try disabling speedboost in both the client and the
    access point.
    Don't both. Piece of junk at best.
    Her walls are made of funk? Interesting house. Any aluminium foil
    back fiberglass insulation or chicken wire in the walls?
    Interference from power lines is zilch. However, I enjoy
    demonstrating how my ancient electric shaver has harmonics up into the
    microwave region and does a marvelous job of interfereing. I do have
    to be very close to the access point antenna (about 1-2 inches) to
    have an effect, so I guess I'm cheating a bit.
    Jeff Liebermann, Mar 3, 2005
  5. pattyjamas

    pattyjamas Guest

    Great answer Jeff. I appreciate it. Will try shutting off the
    Speedbooster in the WRT54GS.

    Thanks, Patty
    pattyjamas, Mar 3, 2005
  6. pattyjamas

    pattyjamas Guest

    One more thing you asked and I did not answer. The connection she is
    having trouble making is to the Internet.

    She is going to try to recreate this situation and see if she can pin
    it down to one machine or one room, etc.. I do not have all the
    details. However I do appreciate your endulging me with the sparse info
    I had so far in your answer previously.

    Take care.

    pattyjamas, Mar 3, 2005
  7. There's an easy test to see where things are breaking.
    First, you need three IP addresses (not names to avoid a DNS lookup).
    1. The IP address of your wireless router (
    2. The IP address of your ISP's gateway.
    You get this from the "status" page of the WRT54GS.
    It will change as you connect/disconnect from the ISP.
    3. The address of some major web site that's unlikely to evaporate.
    Yahoo is

    Open an MSDOS "cmd" window on your machine and wait for the connection
    to fail or get flakey. Then ping each IP address in succession.
    1. ping IP_address_of_router. If that fails, you have a wireless
    problem between the client wireless device and the router. It can be
    a large number of different causes. This will just pinpoint the area,
    not identify the exact cause.
    2. If pinging the router works, try:
    ping IP_address_of_the_ISP_gateway
    That will check connectivity between the router WAN side and the ISP.
    If your DSL, cable, or wireless connection is flakey, it will show up
    3. If pinging the gateway works, then try pinging a site on the
    internet. That will test your ISP's router's connection to the
    internet. This is usually not a problem with the major cable or DSL
    vendors, but is worth a check.

    My guess(tm) is that the problem will manifest itself in the first
    step. If you run:
    ping -t
    it will run continuously. This way you can sorta see it start and
    stop as she moves around the house. A better version of ping is
    called "fping" and will show the sequence numbers. If any packets are
    lost, the missing sequence number will be obvious.

    Ping is not really as good as a field strength measurement, but it's a
    tolerable test. If you wanna do a site survey (measure the radio
    coverage), I suggest downloading and installing Netstumbler:
    Jeff Liebermann, Mar 3, 2005
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