RealTime IT News

Ask the Wi-Fi Guru About FiOS and Slow Windows Wireless

Our monthly Q&A series offers advice to those seeking help with home or small business WLANs. This month our Guru helps connect to a FIOS router, dispenses guidance about speeding up Wi-Fi on a Windows machine, and breaks some bad news to a likely malware victim.

Would you like to ask the guru a question? Write the editor.

Many of us now have two kinds of wireless networks in our lives: Wi-Fi and cellular broadband (which includes both 3G and newer 4G technologies). In a welcome development, the two are increasingly appearing together in new devices that are both cellular clients and Wi-Fi hotspots. From Android to Palm to the MiFi, we're seeing mobile devices that can take a 3G or 4G cellular signal and rebroadcast it over Wi-Fi, like an access point.

With this technology, your cell phone can become an Internet connection accessible from a laptop, netbook, or tablet like the iPad in the nearby vicinity such as a hotel room or car. Of course, there are costs for this convenience. Some carriers charge an extra fee -- as much as $20 per month -- to enable this service. Plus, with so much connectivity you could consume bandwidth more quickly, potentially hitting your plan's cap. Finally, running as a Wi-Fi hotspot consumes more power, draining your battery quickly unless your device is plugged into a charger.

Still, merging cellular and Wi-Fi is a natural evolution that will further let us enjoy wireless access everywhere. And really, isn't that the dream?

How do I make a secure Wi-Fi connection to my FIOS router?

Q:I have a home with an in-law apartment behind it. I have FIOS installed at my home and it works fine. I am trying to allow my brother to use the Internet for his computer and Wii. We installed a WRTG54 router with DD-WRT on it and set it up as a client bridge. It is connected to his Wi-Fi switch/router. I then hooked up a Yagi antenna to the DD-WRT router and aimed it right in the window of the room that I have my WIFI router that verizon installed. I dont know if I use the security key that Verizon gave me in each of his electronic devices, or do I put it in the DD-WRT router somewhere? -- Bob

A: Overall this looks like a reasonably good setup. You are actually very close to making the connection. It sounds like the missing detail here is that the client bridge router needs to make a secure connection to the FIOS router.

By default, most FIOS routers ship with WEP security installed. By Verizon's own admission, this is actually not a thoroughly secure configuration because WEP security has been compromised for years. You might want to take this opportunity to change your FIOS router configuration to the more secure WPA2 protocol.

Either way, you need to configure wireless security on your client bridge router to match. In other words, if you choose to change nothing on your FIOS router, then on your DD-WRT router you need to go into the wireless security page and set it to WEP with the security key provided by Verizon.

You do not need to use this security key with each device, only the DD-WRT router.

If you do change your FIOS router to use WPA2 with a security key of your choosing, then be sure you set the DD-WRT wireless security to WPA2 with that same password.

On a side note, keep in mind that by using a wireless link to extend your FIOS connection to the router in the in-law apartment, devices located there may not get the full speed available. FIOS is a very fast broadband link (15 to 50Mbps). If you were able to run an ethernet cable from the FIOS router to the router in the in-law apartment, you would be more assured of getting full speed at that location, if this is important to you.