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Out in the Cold?

If Wi-Fi "cold spots" are leaving you in the lurch, try these solutions.

Wi-Fi is one of the greatest networking innovations to reach growing businesses in a long time. It also can be one of the most frustrating. Wi-Fi signals don't always reach into every nook and cranny of an office building, and there are often "cold spots" where Wi-Fi fades or drops off altogether. Adding a Pringles can is one way the technically innovative extend network range.

A more professional-looking answer is to add an extended-range antenna-basically, a larger antenna, sometimes placed high on a wall. At about $50, this can cost as much as an access point, and you have to make sure there's compatibility with the hardware you're currently using.

Wireless repeaters and bridges are other options. A repeater is a device that picks up your Wi-Fi signal and rebroadcasts it. Costing about $100, a repeater is one of the easiest ways to expand your network. A bridge, on the other hand, will connect two or more wireless networks-and possibly separated workgroups. Low-end bridges start at $150; prices increase depending on functions and capabilities. Once again, make sure your repeater or bridge is compatible with the hardware you already have. Often, different manufacturers' equipment won't mix or may force bandwidth tradeoffs.

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This article was originally published in the August 2004 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Out in the Cold?.

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