What's Jamming Your Network

Wi-Fi network jammed? This tool exposes the culprits.
Magazine Contributor
3 min read

This story appears in the September 2006 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

The air around your office is likely clogged with wireless networks and devices like cordless phones and microwaves. That invisible traffic jam can cause interference problems with your Wi-Fi system. Spectrum analyzers are tools that help you suss out the sources of interference and choose a Wi-Fi channel that will give you a cleaner signal. Until recently, spectrum analyzers were somewhat pricey investments. But now, MetaGeek is bringing a spectrum analyzer to the masses with the $99 (street) Wi-Spy for the 2.4GHz band.

Wi-Spy comes as a kit with an installation CD and a small USB device. We plugged it into a Windows XP laptop to check out our 802.11g network. Installation is straightforward, and the program opens to show a graphical analyzer view. You can immediately see which Wi-Fi channels are full of activity. You can also switch over to a frequency view and check which frequencies are busy or subject to interference. After that, you can set your wireless network accordingly.

Wi-Spy packs a lot of features. A spectrogram lets you view a time-based history ranging from two minutes to 24 hours. Save your data, print graphs and play back recorded data. If you don't personally handle your Wi-Fi network, pass it on--your IT staff will be thrilled to get their hands on Wi-Spy.

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Print from anywhere--no paper or ink required.

You're highly mobile, but your printer isn't. Yes, portable printers are available, but what do you do if you don't want to carry a laptop or the extra weight of a mobile printer? Your PDA, smartphone or BlackBerry can be your link to getting printing done on the road--as long as a fax machine is nearby, that is. Premiere Global Services' PremiereAnywhere solution lets users send e-mails, e-mail attachments and other documents to fax machines for printing. PremiereAnywhere supports more than 130 types of documents and gives you the flexibility of sending them to a fax of your choice. After a $15 activation fee, the service costs $4.95 a month and includes 30 free pages each month. It's available through a downloadable applet.

Electronics for Imaging's PrintMe solution takes a slightly different approach. It works with any internet-enabled mobile device. Users visit www.printme.com and upload the file they wish to print. PrintMe has a network of compatible printers around the world. The website helps point out the closest printer location, many of which are hotels. The drawback is that there can be some limitations on printer availability. Still, these methods give entrepreneurs another option besides carrying a portable printer or tracking down an office center.

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