We live in a very typical village house here in France. It’s on three floors, and is taller than it is wide. The first floor includes a long entrance way, the dining room, kitchen, garage and downstairs bathroom. The second floor features our office, sitting room, two bedrooms and two bathrooms. The top floor has a kind of loft-style master bedroom and en-suite bathroom.
We get our Internet access via ADSL, and the only phone outlet in the house is on the first floor (meaning the bottom floor–in Europe, the ‘first floor’ often refers to what North Americans call ‘the second floor’). So our modem/wifi router from our Internet provider, called a Livebox, is plugged in there. The wifi signal easily reaches our second floor office, but it’s a little hit and miss in our bedroom up on the third floor. This isn’t all that surprising, given that the house has stone walls, and concrete floors.
Because I’m a nerd, I brought along our Apple Airport Extreme (it’s extreme, bro!). Hoping for a better signal in the bedroom, I decided to compare the quality of the signal from our Apple router to our Livebox.
I downloaded and installed a free app called NetSpot, which enables you to evaluate the quality of your wifi signal in different parts of your house. First you draw a map of your house and then you walk around testing the signal strength in various locations. It produces a series of heatmaps which you can use to, for example, better position your router.
I drew a really simple map of our bedroom, and then tested a bunch of spots on the default Livebox setup. Here’s the resulting heatmap:
Then I turned off the wifi on the Livebox, plugged in the Airport Extreme and repeated the exercise.
I can only show one test site at a time, but all of the locations were 10 to 15 dBm better (whatever that means) with the Airport Extreme. The wifi access is still a little dodgy up in the bedroom, so I may get an Airport Express to boost the signal from the office. In any case, I was happy to discover that hauling the Airport Extreme all 5263 kilometres was worth the effort.
I was a little concerned that the Internet speed would be pretty shoddy here, but I have no complaints:
How does that compare with where you live? Run a test and leave a comment with the results.