One of the first things you do when you get the keys to a new home is arrange your electricity, gas and water supplies. All essential to the modern home, the results of incredible advances in engineering and technology and now totally taken for granted.
In the last ten years or so a new supply has become so important that it's probably sitting right alongside those other utilities in your 'must have' list. The broadband internet connection is becoming so much a part of modern life that, at least in the UK, houses for sale are often marketed with their maximum potential broadband speed listed alongside the number of bedrooms and the floorspace in the living room!
When broadband was first becoming popular, it was really only the desktop PC, or the slightly less common laptop that could take advantage of the 'always on' connection and the faster speeds over previous dial-up connections. These days so many of our gadgets connect to the internet and this is in part thanks to the good timing of another clever technology that we now take for granted. WIFI or wireless internet access.
With WIFI, our broadband is now available wirelessly all round the house and again, its always on. Even better, everyone in the house can use it at the same time, which should save on the odd argument.
Most people have a perfectly good experience with WIFI. Manufacturers have gone a long way to simplifying it, but there are still limitations.
The first issue is that of range. If you live in a big house, or there are one or more thick walls between you, your wifi gadget and the wireless router, you may find there are dead spots around the place where the WIFI signal's reach has fallen short. This could be quite frustrating if it happens to be your study or perhaps a favourite snug reading chair at the back of the house that's not covered.
The second and all too common issue is the fact that all your neighbours probably have WIFI too. Why is that a bad thing? Well, its fine if there are only a few, but in a built up area there could be many and this leads to problems as nearly all wireless routers are fighting over the same 2.4Ghz frequency. In fact, wireless routers are not just fighting each other. In the same battle, you'll find microwaves, cordless telephones and, the biggest hogs of all, baby monitors!
The problem can be mitigated in part by setting your router's 'channel' to a different one to your neighbour's network. There are 14 channels advertised (some countries have a few less depending on regulations) but in reality they overlap, so it's best to select between channels 1, 6, 11 and 14. The net effect of this radio war is that your broadband is slower than it should be, or lost completely in the noise.
So let's assume you have a room with a PC or a laptop in it that WIFI can't reach, or perhaps a smart-television with internet TV that doesn't have wireless and you don't want to run a network cable round the house to the router - what is the alternative to WIFI?
Meet the DLAN. The fast and convenient partner to your wireless network. DLANs pull a clever trick by using your existing domestic electricity cables, called the ring-mains as network cables. A basic DLAN starter pack comes with two plug adaptors, but you can have as many as you like. The first plugs into a power socket in the wall near your router. You then connect a network cable between the router and the network socket on the back of your DLAN. Now, take the second DLAN to the nearest free socket to your device that WIFI hasn't worked for. Again, run a network cable, this time between the device and the second DLAN.
On powering both the DLANs on, they will automatically find each other by communicating via your electricity power cables and create a bridge to your router and on to the internet!
Not only are these devices cheap and easy to install, the speeds they can run at are far faster and more reliable than a wireless connection. Devices like games consoles and smart-televisions that need the best possible connection to work well are perfect for DLANs and they'll go the distance in the largest of houses.
So there you have it, the humble DLAN may not sound as cool or practical as wireless internet access, but it'll quietly serve up faster and more reliable internet speeds in the places your WIFI could never reach.
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