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Reaching Out

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

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 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 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 device.

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