Author Topic: what determines internet connection??  (Read 4930 times)

scrubbyfish

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what determines internet connection??
« on: May 15, 2015, 09:54:40 AM »
With permission, I use a neighbour's wifi. The house is about half a block away. I looked into a -repeater? extender?- to improve the connection, but these require they press a button inside their house, and no one is inside it to press said button. Another neighbour is also willing for us to use their wifi, but they are not willing to press their button. So, no extender/repeater option.

I can catch wifi in one very small area of my house. Sometimes it runs steady for a week, sometimes it disappears for three days, sometimes it comes and goes within an hour, etc. When it's not connecting, my computer gives these messages:

Quote
None of the networks you have previously connected to are in range.

A network cable is not properly plugged in or may be broken.

Problem with wireless adapter or access point.

Sometimes it resolves when I ask it to "attempt repair", sometimes when I ask it to "try another step", sometimes it resolves after I move/turn/angle the computer by an inch any which way. Often it just keeps trying to connect and suddenly does.

Again, no one is in the house whose internet we use, so it's nothing about activity there.

What determines whether it connects or not? Is there a way for me to improve this from my end, like an antennae for my laptop?

dramaman

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Re: what determines internet connection??
« Reply #1 on: May 15, 2015, 10:07:18 AM »
I'm not sure what particular piece of equipment you are using, but I know that I can use a device with the ddwrt firmware on it as a repeater or extender and it connects with the main wifi router in the same way any client would. No button pushing required.

JLee

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Re: what determines internet connection??
« Reply #2 on: May 15, 2015, 10:25:23 AM »
Signal strength / interference determines that. A quality access point or better antennas on either/both ends would likely help.

Spork

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Re: what determines internet connection??
« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2015, 10:48:59 AM »

I will warn you:  It is probably not kosher to share.  I know this goes against a lot of MMM philosophy, but ... I can almost 100% guarantee that this is against the terms of service of the ISP. 

Now... assuming you're gonna do it anyway...   I am guessing that "press a button" you're talking about WPS -- Wifi Protected Setup.  Let me just say: you do not want to do that.  WPS is just a shitty design.  And on top of that, lots of manufacturers have implemented the protocol badly, making it even worse.

https://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2015/04/13/we-told-you-not-to-use-wps-on-your-wi-fi-router-we-told-you-not-to-knit-your-own-crypto/
https://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2011/12/30/most-wi-fi-routers-susceptible-to-hacking-through-security-feature/

Sid Hoffman

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Re: what determines internet connection??
« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2015, 11:04:14 AM »
Now... assuming you're gonna do it anyway...   I am guessing that "press a button" you're talking about WPS -- Wifi Protected Setup.  Let me just say: you do not want to do that.  WPS is just a shitty design.  And on top of that, lots of manufacturers have implemented the protocol badly, making it even worse.

I was going to say the same thing.  Real wireless security relies on doing WPA2 and setting a genuine password.  Further, I would never use someone else's internet connection because you're adding unnecessary risk.  If OP is like me, the home computer is a doorway for all your finances and personal information.  I don't see the point trying to save $30/month by using somebody else's badly secured wireless network and risk all my own financials and identity information.

scrubbyfish

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Re: what determines internet connection??
« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2015, 04:31:17 PM »
Lost my internet connection shortly after starting the thread :)
Now at library.
  • Per rural location, etc, no option (yet) to set up internet at my home; will probably choose it when it's do-able
  • When it is an option, cheapest internet is $60/mo
  • Not remotely worried about my friends seeing my personal info
  • Their system is secured (WPA2; genuine password)
  • As far as I understand, service agreement relates to data use, not marriage status, proximity of bedrooms, etc
  • Some points discussed on a previous thread (leading to device tried); cannot locate that thread now
Here is the device I tried to use: http://ca.dlink.com/products/access-points-range-extenders-and-bridges/wireless-range-extender/  and which requires someone inside the home to press button on their modem to activate.

Is a "quality access point" or "better antenna" something I can add on to my current laptop?
« Last Edit: May 15, 2015, 04:36:17 PM by scrubbyfish »

Sid Hoffman

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Re: what determines internet connection??
« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2015, 04:59:24 PM »
With permission, I use a neighbour's wifi. The house is about half a block away.

Since OP mentioned being in a rural area, I went back to read the first post and saw that OP is a meaningful distance away from the router in question.  That's actually the main problem here.  Regular wireless routers simply don't have that much range, especially when going from inside one home to inside another home.  This is especially true when talking about the common 2.4Ghz routers.  A brand new 5Ghz 802.11ac router would potentially do the trick, but that router would need to be the router in command in the neighbor's house.

OP, just so we're all clear, can you estimate the actual distance we're talking about here, either in feet or meters?

For reference, the indoor range ratings for each standard are probably most appropriate here since we're talking about one router being inside one house and the other use point being inside a separate house:

802.11g: 38m / 125 feet
802.11n: 70m / 230 feet
802.11ac: 35m / 115 feet

Although technically ac is the shortest range, what I've seen in testing is that a 5Ghz ac router will provide the best real-world range.  Further, a lot of "n" routers are crippled by sitting on the crowded 2.4Ghz band which frequently suffers a lot of interference.  Still, that band is actually supposed to be better for range, and yeah, you do see a higher range listing for n than ac.

Still: when the op says half a block, I read that to mean a lot more than 230 feet.  A directional solution such as what MMM set up for his own home/neighbor's home may be required, and honestly you really need to be something of a home networking expert to pull that off.  I have technically gotten a pair of routers set up at my own home as source/repeater but it was a total nightmare to get it to work and involved going through multiple custom router operating systems and configurations before I came up with something even remotely stable.

Spork

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Re: what determines internet connection??
« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2015, 05:09:19 PM »
  • Per rural location, etc, no option (yet) to set up internet at my home; will probably choose it when it's do-able
  • As far as I understand, service agreement relates to data use, not marriage status, proximity of bedrooms, etc

I'm rural, too.  We very recently got "real" internet... but before that, cellular.  It sucks in comparison, but it is almost always a viable option.  You can get a router that understands what a usb cellular modem is and ... <shazam> instant internet connection for the whole house.

 btw...  I've never seen an acceptable use policy that allows sharing.  That doesn't mean there isn't one.  But I bet it is considered theft of service (even with their permission.)  You're not the only person doing it, I know.

scrubbyfish

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Re: what determines internet connection??
« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2015, 05:24:14 PM »
OP, just so we're all clear, can you estimate the actual distance we're talking about here, either in feet or meters?

~75 meters.

Since the home with the modem is unoccupied, I need a solution independent of any action on the neighbour's part (and I would not feel comfortable asking them to do more even when they do show up).

I'm also curious, though, about why it would work beautifully for weeks at a time, and then suddenly not, and cut in and out so randomly. What makes it suddenly weak? Did a tree branch drop into the aerial path??

Spork, I'd love to hear more about the cellular option! Our cell (phone) options out here are also VERY spotty and unreliable. With the cellular option, do we pay a phone company for the service?? Or?

I'd be interested to read various documents of intended service limitations, to grasp the consensus. As I said on another thread, surely it's not just for the one person whose name is on the account? So, is it also their spouse? Spouses, if poly? Children? Roommates? Houseguests? Tenant in a carriage house? I know at least one ISP was totally fine when I called for repair from a garden suite and explained I was using the landlord's wifi. I'd be interested to learn what is considered fair by this and a broad range of companies, but have yet to read this spelled out in an agreement. The only limit said not for commercial sharing and a limit of x amount of data (at which point the account holder must pay more).

Regardless, as soon as the ISP is willing to set up service, I'll be happy to pay the $60!

Spork

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Re: what determines internet connection??
« Reply #9 on: May 15, 2015, 06:39:28 PM »
When we had cellular ISP, we tried several cellular carriers.  They all had a "return in X days for $0" (but check!). 

Yes, you just get a cellular modem from a cell provider.   Some now have options that also provide tethering.  In our case, we also needed wired access, so I bought a cellular router to distribute the service throughout the house.

Ours was about $60/mo.  And it was about 1M connection (on a GOOD day).  It doesn't compare to cable.  Ours was unlimiited* ... but that was in a time when that was more common.

*I put the asterisk because they do.  And then they explain that unlimited is, in fact, limited.

dramaman

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Re: what determines internet connection??
« Reply #10 on: May 18, 2015, 06:48:15 AM »
I'm also curious, though, about why it would work beautifully for weeks at a time, and then suddenly not, and cut in and out so randomly. What makes it suddenly weak? Did a tree branch drop into the aerial path??

Are there any other wifi networks in the same proximity that are possibly using channels that overlap with the one that your neighbor uses? Given the distance, interference from other wifi networks could be causing your signal to drop. Such interference might not always be obvious if the other networks are not always being utilized at the same time the you are utilizing your neighbor's network. A wifi sniffing application could identify all the surrounding networks and how they overlap with one another. Unfortunately, if interference is the problem, the only solution is to get the wifi network owners to change their broadcasting channel to minimize overlap. Such a task is not impossible but requires a fair amount of cooperation and technical know how.

I wouldn't give much hope for an extender given your circumstances. The extender has the same limitations that your current wifi devices have. If the signal cuts out for them, it will for the extender as well. Your only hope would be to install the extender outdoors, closer to where the wifi signal originates.

scrubbyfish

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Re: what determines internet connection??
« Reply #11 on: May 18, 2015, 07:40:18 AM »
Thanks very much, dramaman and Spork.

I don't know if this is same or different than what you mean, dramaman, but there are definitely other wifi networks in the area -some much stronger than the one I have access to. Not sure about the channels part.

I called Rogers about cellular, they and I worked out that far less use than now would be over $90/mo, but if I quit Netflix, that could change.

I'm going to ask an electrician for a quote on installing a line.

zolotiyeruki

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Re: what determines internet connection??
« Reply #12 on: May 18, 2015, 07:56:40 AM »
I'll go contrary to the other advice here.  Yes, you can do it. The distance isn't too great.  Legal/moral issues aside, here's what I suggest:

1) Get a router capable of client mode, or a repeater with external screw-on antennas.  Most commercially-available routers today have that capability.
2) Get a directional antenna.  You *could* use the huge kind that MMM uses, but for the distance you're considering, you could do with something smaller and suitable for indoor use. 
3) Take off the tiny antenna that comes with the repeater or router, and attach the directional antenna.  Point it at the neighbor's house.
4) If you can connect to the neighbor's router with your laptop, you can use the same password to get the device from step 1 to connect to their wireless.

(Edited for more completeness)
« Last Edit: May 18, 2015, 09:36:51 AM by zolotiyeruki »

dramaman

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Re: what determines internet connection??
« Reply #13 on: May 18, 2015, 08:18:00 AM »
I don't know if this is same or different than what you mean, dramaman, but there are definitely other wifi networks in the area -some much stronger than the one I have access to. Not sure about the channels part.

You won't know what channels (1-13) are being used by a wifi network unless you use a wifi sniffer/detector app. Although any channel can technically be used, if the main channel is not 1, 6 or 11, then the wifi signal will likely cause interference with those other signals that are using a nearby channel. I would imagine that such interference from a more powerful signal would really play havoc on reception of a weaker signal.

1) Get a router capable of client mode, or a repeater with external screw-on antennas.  Most commercially-available routers today have that capability.
2) Get a directional antenna.  You *could* use the huge kind that MMM uses, but for the distance you're considering, you could do with something smaller and suitable for indoor use.
3) If you can connect to the neighbor's router with your laptop, you can use the same password to get the device from step 1 to connect to their wireless.

I agree this could work with the directional antenna. Being directional, it would hopefully also be less susceptible to interference from a wifi network that it is not directed towards.

hdatontodo

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Re: what determines internet connection??
« Reply #14 on: May 18, 2015, 12:15:24 PM »
If < 100 meters, could you just use a long Ethernet cord and plug it into the back of their router?

Isriam

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Re: what determines internet connection??
« Reply #15 on: May 18, 2015, 02:39:38 PM »
Just get a NIC (network card) for your laptop or desktop that has an external antenna.  Thats probably the cheapest best solution if you don't want to pay for internet at home.

zolotiyeruki

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Re: what determines internet connection??
« Reply #16 on: May 19, 2015, 08:34:54 AM »
If < 100 meters, could you just use a long Ethernet cord and plug it into the back of their router?
The issue is that the home is unoccupied and they can't get in.  (Otherwise, they'd be able to do the whole WPS button procedure)

Davids

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Re: what determines internet connection??
« Reply #17 on: May 19, 2015, 08:41:45 AM »
While i am Mustachian i am not comfortable ever going the route of sharing a neighbor's wifi. I get the reasoning but either have your own internet connection or go to the public library.

scrubbyfish

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Re: what determines internet connection??
« Reply #18 on: May 19, 2015, 11:31:58 AM »
While i am Mustachian i am not comfortable ever going the route of sharing a neighbor's wifi. I get the reasoning but either have your own internet connection or go to the public library.

Believe me, I'd love to! Neither is an option where I live yet. As I've said a few times in the thread, I will be opting for home internet as soon as it's an option (i.e., made available).