I work in a concrete bunker.
Well, ok, not really but the walls of the library are, indeed, concrete. There are two main “benefits” of this type of construction. First, it tends to hold onto whatever weather is outside. On the cold, frigid days the it’s almost a requirement to wear mittens and mufflers in the office. On hot, humid days it’s almost as if the books are sweating alongside us. But the second benefit concerns the WiFi signal. It sucks.
Concrete drops a WiFi signal by 8 decibels. If a 3 dB drop is akin to a 50% reduction if power, then it’s no wonder the signal in my building bites. (Source: http://www.metageek.com/training/resources/dead-spots-slow-zones.html ) Knowing this made me realize the futility of my searching for free wifi analysis tools. Knowing this also made me realize that I had been overlooking (or at least undervaluing) a bit of advice that I’d heard long ago: when it comes to Wireless Access Point (WAP) placement, make like Indiana and “Choose Wisely”.
I am limited to choosing a spot that has an Ethernet port, true, but methinks sticking it behind a concrete post wasn’t the smarted of ideas. Nor was the spot on the floor behind the paperback spinners. So I talked to the indispensable facilities dude and asked him for help re-positioning 3 of our 4 WAPs. He was able to put some hooks in a wall and on a couple of poles.
Now, with the WAPs, positioned high and away from obstructions, the Wifi signal is stupendously stronger. It’ll never be great but methinks I’ve been able to make the best of a bad situation.