One option for extending the coverage area of your WLAN is boosting the output power of your access point's signal. Fortunately, Linksys has begun to market a wireless signal booster for use with its access points and routers. Other manufacturers ar
e sure to follow suit.
Increasing the power of your signal increases your access point's range, which enables clients that are further away from an AP to connect at a higher rate than they were originally. However, amplifying your AP's signal is not a perfect fix and has its own drawbacks.
First, when you amplify the power of a signal, you also are amplifying any noise that was originally present in the signal as well. This usually won't cause problems for most clients on your WLAN, but it can affect connectivity and quality of service for clients with a weak signal.
Adding an amplifier to an access point only increases the output signal of that unit; it doesn't improve reception of the signal from wireless clients. If you are trying to improve service for clients with a weak signal, and then an amplifier only takes care of half of your problem. Because Wi-Fi networking requires two-way communication, your best bet may be to add a high-gain antenna. An antenna doesn't add noise to the signal and improves reception of client signals at the AP.
Boosting your signal also may extend it to neighboring houses or apartments. This can cause problems in two ways. First, it is more likely that your WLAN will be discovered and possibly used by wardrivers or neighbors. Second, you may interfere with the operation of a neighbor's WLAN and get an angry knock on your door (or head) as a result.
Both of these problems can be fixed both by properly securing your WLAN and by using directional antennas to minimize propagation of your Wi-Fi signal outside the boundaries of your property.