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Reaching Out

Range-extending options for your Wi-Fi setup stretch your dollar to the max.

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This story appears in the April 2005 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Nobody likes a dead spot--that place where you can't get a decent Wi-Fi connection. You're forced to trade range for speed on your network, and everything from walls to cordless phones can take their toll. Some new Wi-Fi technologies that anticipate the 802.11n protocol have come to market (see "Digital Edge"). But don't toss those 11b and 11g adapters--you can still get a little extra from your old equipment. Antennas and repeaters are the two most popular ways to stretch your signal on the cheap.

Directional and omnidirectional are two terms you'll hear a lot. D-Link offers the $40 (all prices street) 2.4GHz Directional DWL-M60AT and the 2.4GHz Omni-Directional ANT24-0400, which has an average price of $35. The omni-directional antenna boosts the signal for 360 degrees, while the directional antenna focuses the extended signal in one direction. SMC Networks offers both varieties as well. With an average price of $25, its EZ Connect 2.4GHz Omni Directional SMCHMANT-4 comes with two universal antenna converter adapters to work with any wireless device.

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