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Communications Wireless Networking

New Houses Killing Wi-Fi 358

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the break-out-the-cat-5 dept.
Barence writes "Poor Wi-Fi or mobile reception is one of the banes of modern living — and modern building techniques could be making things worse. PC Pro has photos of a new-build being covered from floorboards to rafters in a tin-foil like material. The "highly reflective" material could have unpredictable results for radio signals, potentially bouncing mobile signals away from the house or preventing Wi-Fi signals from reaching the garden. And the new householder is likely to be none the wiser."
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New Houses Killing Wi-Fi

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  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Thursday April 14, 2011 @08:27AM (#35817006)

    Since moving into my new home, I've noticed a significant reduction in secret CIA messages being injected into my brainwaves. Goodbye ugly tinfoil hat!

    • in that WiFi signals from inside the house cannot be intercepted from the driveway or further away. If you can't hear it you can't intercept it!
    • by NiteMair (309303)

      This is SPECTACULAR!

      I want this stuff installed on my house.

      1) My wifi signals don't need to leave my house.
      2) My neighbors' wifi signals don't need to enter my house.
      3) I *hate* cell phones, and now when people come over, their calls will drop, their bars will drop, and they'll turn the damn things off finally.
      4) I have satellite TV.
      5) I need better insulation.

    • by cayenne8 (626475)

      Since moving into my new home, I've noticed a significant reduction in secret CIA messages being injected into my brainwaves. Goodbye ugly tinfoil hat!

      I wouldn't get too cocky about this...nor would I throw away a perfectly good tin foil hat either.

      You just have to wait for them to process the "Change of Address" forms before they can know where to start re-transmission of the CIA brainwave secret messages.

      Not to make you paranoid or anything, but you might wanna give it a couple weeks more before breath

  • Non-issue really (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gad_zuki! (70830) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @08:31AM (#35817036)

    Insulation isn't usually put on interrior walls and I have no need to broadcast my wifi outside of my house. Those that do can position their WAP near a window.

    I'm also certain this is not an a recent issue. Almost all the insulation I've seen, apart from spray insulation, has some kind of foil-like backing.

    Maybe complainers should spend 2 minutes trying a different wifi channel instead of blaming their home.

    • by Whalou (721698)
      You might lose your cell phone signal once inside the house which would be problematic.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 14, 2011 @08:46AM (#35817222)

        Yea, you might. The article has no evidence, conducted no tests, and received no information from the manufacturer or really anyone else. They saw something that looked like tinfoil on an unfinished house, and then wrote a completely speculative article claiming that it will affect wireless waves. My parents house is covered in a material that looks exactly the same (no idea if it actually is the same). I can sit by the pool 20 yards from the house and easily get a strong signal to the wireless router in the kitchen. Maybe this new stuff is different and maybe it causes a problem, but it's flat out irresponsible to write an article claiming that it's a problem without a shred of evidence.

        • by IronicToo (514475)
          Mod parent up, worthless article by a clueless author. Has anyone ever tried blocking WiFi with aluminum foil? It doesn't work, one of my electrical engineering professors tried it to use it to isolate two antennas from each other, aluminum foil had no effect. Leaves on the other hand (due to high water content) stop it dead. A better article would have talked about the hidden dangers of planting trees around the house. Not sure how cell would behave (very different frequency).
      • Definitely, I live in a new build student accommodation block. I can only get mobile phone signal with my phone sitting on the window sill, and it's only GSM at that. Outside I get a nice full bar 3G connection. The only way I can make phone calls is by using my Bluetooth headset, as if I pick the phone up, calls will drop shortly after. This means I must regularly keep my headset charged and can have a maximum of 4 hours talking with about an hour charge break in the middle, god forbid I forget to char
        • I really don't believe that this is anything "new". When I got out of high school (Class of '74) I went into construction. During my apprenticeship as a carpenter, we put up houses with insulation that looked like pressed fiber impregnated with tar, we put up other insulation that looked a lot like styrofoam with foil backing, AND, we most commonly put up fiberglass bats. I didn't pay for the stuff, and I didn't know what it cost - but it was fairly obvious that when we used the pressed fiber stuff, it g

      • Houses with Stucco have this issue as well. Builders use a steel mesh to adhere the Stucco to the house which acts like a Faraday Cage.
    • by Tx (96709)

      Yes, in fact this would actually be a good thing if it cuts down on emissions into and out of the house. We have people complaining about emissions from powerline ethernet (been a bit of fuss about that here in the UK recently) interfering with DAB and FM radio reception, and of course we have video senders and baby monitors jamming the 2.4GHz band and making it hard to find a usable wifi channel. Personally I'd be happy to live in a faraday cage.

      • We have people complaining about emissions from powerline ethernet (been a bit of fuss about that here in the UK recently)

        Must be nice to have the complaints based on real concerns... Here (Vancouver Island) we had a cellphone tower project cancelled because the PTA didn't want "radiation" within a half kilometer of an elementary school... but the open tank sewage plant is OK.

        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          So do they plan on going after that unlicensed fusion reactor that bathes their children in radiation all day?

          • To be fair, that reactor is 150 million km away. Still, prolonged exposure to its radiation is proven to cause cancer. Shut 'er down now!
        • How is the PTA full of the most stupid, uneducated people on the planet?
        • Re:Non-issue really (Score:4, Interesting)

          by agentgonzo (1026204) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @09:29AM (#35817684)
          I just heard this lunchtime that when they installed the new radar equipment on the top of Portsdown hill (Just outside Portsmouth - if you live close, the big blue buildings with the radar on Portsdown hill) they attached the motors only and had it turning for 2-3 weeks before any radar emitters were turned on. They got umpteen complaints from local residents during that period that the 'new radars' were interfering with their TV and causing 'bad reception'. All these phone numbers got logged as time-wasters for subsequent public complaints!
    • by capnkr (1153623) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @08:44AM (#35817186)
      A networking company I've done contract work for has a small hotel client constructed with steel framing instead of wood. Only 2 floors, 8 rooms per side/floor, front and back, but WiFi is a nightmare. There are *5* AP's in the building; one central, 2 each in the attic space either side of the central router, & one AP even has to have a yagi on it to reach into the bottom, corner room with signal strength sufficient to keep hotel guests from complaining. After working there 3 times in the past 2 years resolving issues, I think that steel construction is more of a concern than a radiant barrier layer on the insulation of an exterior wall...
    • Re:Non-issue really (Score:5, Interesting)

      by gatkinso (15975) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @08:45AM (#35817208)

      Most interior walls are insulated just not with the wrap.

      If this stuff is RF reflective you can get all kinds of weird multipath issues, signal bouncing round.

      However one good thing is that it would help keep your signal IN your house, which is great for security.

      Double edged sword.

      Who browses the web in their garden? I go out there to unplug!

      • i just thought of something, when we moved into our current house, we put in a wooden floor (on the second floor, it's a drive-in house) and under that floor is insulation which has a foil layer. That might explain the dismal wifi reception just a few meters up

      • by arth1 (260657)

        Who browses the web in their garden?

        That would be me. Garden lounger, 13" laptop, jar of lemonade with just enough alcohol to keep the bugs away...

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I was just about to write the same thing. We moved from a 1920's colonial to a 1980's modern colonial which has foil backed foam on the exterior walls in addition to the typical insulation. Adding outlets is a bit of a pain, so is finding studs, though no where near as bad as slat and mortar. Anyway I'll take the $200/mo utility savings over having to install a couple of extra access points.

    • Re:Non-issue really (Score:5, Interesting)

      by BKX (5066) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @08:46AM (#35817226) Journal

      I wouldn't say it's a non-issue, but it's certainly not a new issue. A lot of houses use insulation or soundboard (which is metal coated, like in the picture in TFA) in bedrooms, to deaden sounds (who wants their kids to hear sex noises?); even older houses have it. In fact, my brother and I both put insulating soundboard in our master bedrooms for noise reasons, and because the stuff was on sale for $2/sheet at our local Habitat for Humanity Re-Store. As these materials become more common, we'll be seeing them and their problems in more and more new houses and in more and more retrofits and remodels.

      And another annoyance, in many older homes, such as my father's and my old college dorm building, is the use of "Stucco of Death". That stuff is aw[esome|full]. It will cause severe roadrash when you're drunk and fall into it, much to your detriment and friends' laughter. And the chicken wire that is used as a backing for the stucco is a very good Faraday cage. It's nearly impossible to get signal for any cell phone in my dad's house even though you get full bars outside and at open windows/doors, and no one can get his wifi signal outside, even though he has four APs throughout his house.

      • Re:Non-issue really (Score:4, Interesting)

        by RingDev (879105) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @09:19AM (#35817584) Homepage Journal

        From my time working in the cell phone industry, I'd say "fooie!" to this being a problem at all. Atleast with cell towers, metal objects created almost no interfierance. Water was the devil. A huge chunk of metal in from of an antena had only a tiny impact, but fill that chunk of metal with water, say like a water tower, and it's like a giant black hole for radio signals. We also had issues with small lakes bouncing signals like crazy. You could be driving around a lake, have a tower 100 feet away from you, and another 12 miles away across the lake, and we'd have to put them on no-handoff lists, because a little bit of waves in the water can give the CC the impression that you are getting a better signal from across the lake.

        A think layer of tin on the back of your insulation, that has been being used for decades, isn't going to cause any issue that hasn't already been dealt with.

        -Rick

        • by BKX (5066)

          I give the thin tin sheeting probably not being a problem, since I have no issues with my soundboard (my first paragraph was most disagreeing with OP about the use of insulation on interior wall.) The chicken wire from stucco thing, I can assure you, is 100% true. Now, it's possible that water is the actual cause and the chicken wire a coincidence since we're in Michigan and there are streams in everyone's back yard and pools, ponds, and lakes are everywhere, but it seems like a bit too much coincidence tha

      • by Xest (935314)

        Yes it can be a real pain in the arse.

        My parents never had wifi issues at their house but since they had an extension to extend their kitchen into a large kitchen/living area they can no longer connect to the Wifi router in another room. That room is really a wifi deadzone now, it's not really the end of the world, but it's not really ideal either and is somewhat inconvenient- the whole idea of wifi being that you can roam, and so if you have to go back to another part of the house to use it then, well, tha

    • by DarkOx (621550)

      Well, I mostly agree but having a thin sheet of metal over most of your outside walls might very well have negative consequences for reception inside as well. Signals bounce you know and it will create pockets were the interference is destructive. So you might experience strange dead zones and such, but these can probably be mostly solved by moving the laptop three feet to the left.

      You make sure these house wraps are grounded and thus prevent them from becoming a passive radiator, but that will have other

    • Get one.

      Use it.

    • by Andy Dodd (701)

      Yup. This will actually improve in-house wifi - Your neighbors won't cause as much interference to your network.

      If you need outdoor wifi - set up an access point outside.

      It will be detrimental to cell phone reception indoors however - but there are technical solutions to that. The amount of money you save on energy by having reflective barriers will make up for the cost of a Wilson amplifier setup - http://www.wilsonelectronics.com/ProductListing.aspx?Category=9 [wilsonelectronics.com] . Interestingly enough, the shielding of t

  • This should boost the low end Tech jobs. Lots of external antennas and WiFi boosters to be installed.

  • by SpiralSpirit (874918) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @08:36AM (#35817100)
    it reflects huge amounts of radiant energy transfer from your envelope materials away from the interior of your home, making it that much more efficient to cool, and during winter it helps keep the heat inside the house. The wifi 'issue' just doesn't seem to be that much of an issue when you're talking about one of the core efficiencies in your house, and one of the biggest loads on the nation's energy usage.
    • It should be possible to make the material transparent in the radio spectrum but reflective in the visible/infrared spectrum. This would be the best of both worlds.

      • possible, surely. financially prohibitive? no demand? perhaps.
      • Foil backed foam and has been used since the 70's, the foil does allow radio waves to be received,the simplest way to think of it is that the signal hits the foil and is then retransmitted by the foil. Faraday cages keep signals out by canceling the field with the opposite signal which is retransmitted from the opposite side and only work if they are continuous and grounded, they do not work in reverse. Coaxial cables have a shielding that protects the inner conductor from noise but the signal can still be
    • by radl33t (900691)
      Well said sir!

      We use about 10% of our national energy to heat/cool our homes (another 10% to heat/cool commercial buildings). Energy efficient construction (basically insulation, gap sealing, and orientation/design) can _reduce_ heating/cooling loads by 40-60% at _lower_ initial cost. Saving hundreds of millions of barrels of oil, ft^3 of natural gas, or tons of coal and spending thousands of dollars less for new construction makes the WiFi in the garden a pretty trivial issue in comparison... especially
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @08:36AM (#35817102) Journal
    From a look at the exterior shot provided, no special effort appears to have been taken to ground the foil. It appears to just be there to keep moisture and/or rabid sheetrock mites from getting into the interior material. I'm a bit surprised that some plastic wasn't cheaper; but it seems otherwise sensible enough.

    For those who know more than I about the dark arts of RF propagation, what would the effect be of ungrounded conductive sheets? Substantial signal attenuation? Not much effect? Completely unpredictable absorption and re-emmision that could vary wildly according to the exact geometry of the piece?

    In a similar vein, if one had an AP/router that one didn't love to much(not so hard when they start at $20...), what would the effect be of attempting to use the metal foil as an antenna, by coupling it directly to the antenna output? Horribly non-optimized for the frequency, I'd imagine; but would it be expected to Not Work, to Not Work and kill the RF amp, to work somewhat, to work better than one might expect?
    • by Spirilis (3338)

      Plastic wouldn't have the infrared heat reflectivity / low emissivity of foil, that's why they use foil. Good question about grounding it though--none of the insulation products really have that in mind (that I know of anyhow), and I'd imagine connecting it in any way to the electrical system (even the ground) would have to be studied for implications for fire safety/etc.

    • by necro81 (917438)

      what would the effect be of ungrounded conductive sheets

      Large ungrounded sheets can still have a significant effect on RF. At the higher frequencies such as 2.4 GHz, any substantial piece of metal can, in effect, be a virtual ground and, as you mention, significantly attenuate the signal. More likely it will reflect signals (more on that below). Taken to an extreme, a house wrapped head to toe in a metal would become a sort of Faraday cage, with no RF passing in or out. In practice, this isn't going t

    • Re:Grounded? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by macraig (621737) <`mark.a.craig' `at' `gmail.com'> on Thursday April 14, 2011 @09:09AM (#35817470)

      The material is being used for its additive insulation value, PERIOD. It is not a moisture barrier, nor is it there to block "sheetrock mites". WTF? THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS SHEETROCK MITES.

      Good grief. The original unsubstantiated hysteria in TFA was bad enough; don't heap more FUD on the pile.

      • I was attempting a deadpan joke with the 'rabid sheetrock mites'. I'll try to be more overt.
        • by macraig (621737)

          You must be deadly at poker. I really wasn't seeing your tell. Sorry for being so snippy.

      • by david.given (6740)

        It is not a moisture barrier, nor is it there to block "sheetrock mites".

        That's what you think. I'm Scottish; our building standards require us to use paisley-backed foil insulation in the walls to act as a barrier to keep microscopic haggis from migrating through the walls into our drinks cabinets, and consuming all our whisky. It's a serious problem. I wouldn't be at all surprised if other countries didn't have something similar.

  • by Tintivilus (88810) <tintivilusNO@SPAMtintivilus.org> on Thursday April 14, 2011 @08:37AM (#35817122)

    Author of TFA says he doesn't know if the material he observed has an impact on radio, just quoting the fact that it's "reflective" from a vendor brochure, but according to the same pdf [glidevale.com] the material is in fact metallic

    Protect TF200 Thermo includes a tough non-woven PP core with a durable bright high purity permeable aluminium layer, bonded to the substrate.

    Yep, sounds like a radio-eater all right. Interesting stuff, too.

    • Instead of a guy looking at a photo we need somebody that has pulled some of the offcuts out of an industrial bin and measured what happens when they send signals at the popular wifi frequencies through it.
      We are not supposed to be the couch potatoes here.
      My excuses for not doing it is that I have only a small amount of knowledge about RF, no gear apart from a few cheap access points and small antennas, and more importantly live halfway around the world from where this stuff is going into houses. It seems
      • The stuff is $7-$10/sheet (4'x8') at most home improvement stores. I just got done insulating an outbuilding with it (and with the foiled bubble wrap for the parts that the solid polystyrene board wouldn't work well for). Given an average new home and my experience with the outbuilding, yeah, this will block WiFi. My phone drops coverage to almost nill inside and full bars outside. Both operate in a similar frequency range.
        -nB

  • awesome (Score:2, Insightful)

    At least I won't have to wear my tinfoil hat at home.

  • by yoshi_mon (172895) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @08:41AM (#35817166)

    And the new householder is likely to be none the wiser.

    You are telling me that Joe and Jane Enduser don't know about how RF works? Or that their computer is not the monitor? Or that their smartphones are also working off of RF?

    And further that there are new homes that are being built without setting up even some basic runs for modern say CAT6 wires? You say that all you need is co-ax? Or some 1900 tech pair of twisted strands?

    Oh and the right wing tells me to chant USA USA USA no matter what idiotic news I see? Golly Lassy! Tech Timmy is down a well! Better go run to Fox News with why ignorance is good!

  • by PingSpike (947548) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @08:46AM (#35817214)

    I love to complain about stupid things more than your average person, but is this really a problem? Put a repeater in the window. My heating bill, on a 1980s house is by far once of the most cash sucking and depressing aspects of my budget.

    And as an added bonus, maybe it'll keep neighbors from stealing everyone's wifi.

    • by LizardKing (5245)

      My heating bill, on a 1980s house is by far once of the most cash sucking and depressing aspects of my budget.

      Same here, but with a 1920's house. I'll be breaking out the Bacofoil tonight, and covering the whole place with it.

      • by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @09:19AM (#35817578) Homepage

        Only because you chose to not fix that problem.

        $1500 to have the house insulation upgraded.
        $6800 to have the AC and furnace changed over to a SEER 18 and a 98% efficient setup.
        $6500 to have new double pane windows installed
        $1100 to have the house checked for air leaks and those fixed with caulking.

        My winter heating bill IN January when it was 6-10 degrees F outside most of the time in michigan up where we get real snow was $80.00, December was less and Febuary was less.

        and you can do all of that in stages. the furnace and AC I got $1500.00 off my taxes because I bought them, that paid for the insulation. The windows we did over the course of a year one window at a time. I had a carpenter show me the first two times, I did the rest except for the big 8'X12' picture windows in the front room.

        Stopping restaurants for 2 years paid for the windows, insulation and air leak check and repair. The furnace and AC were paid for by not buying a new car this year, suffering with a 42" 720p plasma, and torturing my family by not going to Florida for a 1 week vacation but staying home. I know I should be turned in for torturing my family.

        Most people live in old houses with crap insulation and crap windows that have a 600 year old furnace in the basement that are never maintained properly. Your home is in disrepair, fix it and your heat and AC bills drop like a rock.

  • Phones? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by identity0 (77976) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @08:48AM (#35817242) Journal

    Uh, Wifi? I'd think the cell phones (I assume that's what OP means by 'mobiles') are the important one...

    Plenty of people including myself only have a cell phone these days.

    My apartment's fine, but I have school in a very concrete-and-steel building that has very poor phone reception, which ends up draining my battery in no time. They do have good wifi because of a lot of APs, though. Remember, you can add more APs for wifi, but not for phones.

    • There are several products out there that act to boost cellphone reception in a building that inhibits reception. I haven't tried them but they seem to get decent reviews. I have poor reception in my current house and was tempted to try one but I don't want to drop the money on one and find out that it was just because I'm too far from the tower at the house.
    • by fizzup (788545)

      Remember, you can add more APs for wifi, but not for phones.

      Proven false by example. [dealextreme.com]

    • by Tintivilus (88810)

      Remember, you can add more APs for wifi, but not for phones.

      Not true. Residential users can use broadband backhaul for relatively cheap (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Femtocell)

      Bigger users can get bigger equipment. Last year, my office installed entire cell stations for major providers in our main equipment rooms and wired them with low-loss coax to little dome antennas scattered around the buildings. Helps coverage immensely :)

    • by adolf (21054)

      Everyone and their brother replied to you to remind you about the existence of femptocells and small/cheap repeaters and such, but those don't work all that hot in a large building that actively eats RF or have lots of users.

      Fortunately, there's other solutions [zinwave.com] that actually work and actually scale. (Fiber backhaul for in-building wireless? You betcha.)

      There's other examples [powerwave.com], too.

      (It's always amusing to me that Slashdot will, on one hand, recommend the fanciest and best networking kit imaginable, and then

  • This is irritating, but what I think is more irritating is that fiber is not required in all new buildings, especially condos and apartment buildings. It's a huge pain to get it in there once the building is built, and data wiring is just as important electrical wiring in the future. Why isn't this being done?

    • by Combatso (1793216)
      you will find very few low, or non voltage wiring requirments in any code... the reason hydro lines are required by code, how to run cable, where to put outlets, number of outlets per wall (min) and cable size.. its becuase its dangerous stuff... houses rarely burn, and people rarely die becuase fiber was installed wrong.. However, over-amp'ing copper or alluminum can start fires and kill people... so all the stuff the home owner wont see, needs to meet code before its covered.. building codes are for saf
    • by jimicus (737525)

      Building legislation is always a few years behind everything else, and is almost invariably a reaction to legislation or safety issues rather than a reaction to an inconvenience.

      Fun fact: The UK enacted the Disability Discrimination Act in 1995, which essentially forced organisations to make allowances for people with disabilities.

      UK building regulations caught up in 2004. Lots of large organisations commissioned buildings some years after 1995 and found they had to make changes shortly after the builders h

    • by Chemisor (97276)

      Because you can't just plug fiber into your computer. Most motherboards come with ethernet ports, but I have never seen one with fiber input.

  • by Fujisawa Sensei (207127) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @08:55AM (#35817318) Journal

    Wow, talk about content free.

    That article had even less content than the guy who was pushing his blog posts awhile back.

    Your insulation 'might' be blocking wifi &/or 3g. But we don't know, we didn't bother to do any actual research.

  • than spend $500 more in heating costs every year

    i for one welcome our new tin foil energy saving house overlords

  • by WindBourne (631190) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @09:06AM (#35817432) Journal
    Far less leakage, and less chance of home builders skipping putting in ethernet. All new homes should be wired and not counting on wifi to do the trick.
  • Here in Texas, the "shiny reflective material" is used to help keep electricity costs down in the Summer. I have a 2500 sq. ft. single story home built in 2009 and get WiFi throughout, no problems. I keep my wireless router deep in the walk-in closet of the master bedroom. Something tells me this isn't as big of a problem as the story is letting on to.

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @09:09AM (#35817476) Homepage

    Call someone that has aluminum siding and aluminum screens on their home as them how their home from 1950 that was resided in the 70's or 80's works for wifi to the garden or the grotto.. This is not new. Nor is it news to anyone that actually has a clue about Wifi or home building in general.

    Insulation boards have had foil backing for decades. a lot of other building products as well.

    It's just whiny rich people that notice after moving into their new McMansion. Because they are too damn cheap to buy a second AP for the back yard.

  • It wouldn't be terribly difficult to set up a booster for the house. If a cell signal booster is the price for more energy efficient homes, that seems like a fair trade.

    We used to live in a steel house and would have to stand in front of the upstairs window to get a cell signal. It was pretty funny announcing to people they had to go upstairs to make a call.

    • by JSBiff (87824)

      There's a tech called UMA, which allows cell phones to connect cell calls over a WiFi network. Only T-Mobile implemented it though, and almost none of their phones support it anymore (there was a brief period they tried to push it).

      Personally, I love the idea, because almost everyone has WiFi *anyhow*, so why not leverage that? Why have a second, special-purpose device like a femtocell?

      I don't know why, but when 3G phones came out, not a single 3G phone for a long time came with UMA support, and then I thin

  • I live in a modern high-rise building in the middle of a dense downtown area. To comply with fire codes, all interior studs are metal - in fact almost nothing inside the building (besides furniture) will burn. This definitely affects my WiFi - I have my router in my living room and I have trouble getting a usable signal in my bedroom. My solution of course was to wire the place with ethernet and have multiple routers.

    On the other hand, I have floor-to-ceiling glass for about 40% of my exterior walls. Th

  • So they have now created a new invention, a house to act as a microwave oven. Quick, where are the patent lawyers.

  • Some houses use chicken wire with the lathe and plaster. Same effect. They have to answer their phones on the patio.
  • I would think that most if not all new houses these days are wired up in each room for cable and ethernet/phone. Is this not the case? Obviously you still want wireless to work, as I constantly walk around my house with my phone and laptop, but for the most part these problems should be easy to mitigate.

    Personally I would be very wary about buying new construction that didn't have wiring to the rooms- who knows where else they may have cut corners!

  • by c (8461) <beauregardcp@gmail.com> on Thursday April 14, 2011 @09:22AM (#35817622)

    My last house was built in 1925, and covered in stucco. Newer stucco is usually some kind of latex goop and doesn't need much of a backing, but this old stucco was basically mortar and needed metal mesh to support it. In this case, it was a heavy diamond mesh like you find on outside stairs and whatnot. The guys who blew insulation into the walls from the outside just loved it...

    That being said, I never saw a significant problem with either cellular phone or wifi signals.

  • I live in Boston, in a crowded neighborhood of old houses. My new neighbors, up on the hill, have put in a super powerful wifi that drowns out the old G wireless point I have in the basement.
    I now have to go out and spend money to fix this
    PS: at most, I can see 8 of my neighbors, but one of my co workers say he can see more then 10 on a good day
    • by _0xd0ad (1974778)

      Get them to put it on either channel 1 or 11 and put your AP on the other one. Seeing as this is a super-easy fix, they shouldn't have a problem with it, but if they do you could blow some smoke with some BS about the FCC guidelines for not interfering and broadcasting with really high-powered radios. They most likely aren't violating any FCC rules, but again, seeing as it's a 5-minute task to change the channel on the router, they'll hopefully be willing to do it.

  • by drolli (522659)

    Good for Wifi. Will prevent pollution. I live in a large Condo complex and i see 50 WLANs at the same time. If 20 of them are active its going to reduce my WLAN transfer rate. If i see only 5 active at the same time, it will be much better.

    As a physicist: WLAN is not specified to go trough undefined materials. walls of houses are, in general, undefined materials. If you like good wlan coverage in your garden, then place an external antenna or at least an repeater close to the window (unless the window is al

  • There's no warranty the mobile phone will work inside buildings!
    • by F34nor (321515)

      Just got a Femtocell from At&satan and I am pretty happy with it so far. The interference from my wife yelling at me about poor cell phone reception is down 93.2%

  • by BitZtream (692029) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @09:35AM (#35817758)

    Its just insulation. It goes on exterior walls to help form a heat boundary. Its not even a little bit new, the observer is just a really shitty observer and never noticed it being put into every building thats been built in the last 40 or so years at least. Example, my cheap little home built in 1977 has it.

    It doesn't go on interior walls, you don't generally insulate interior walls, as the air flow through open doors in your home and the fact that your duct system intentionally moves air into those rooms would defeat the point entirely.

    Some people do choose to insulate their interior walls for sound dampening, but not with foil backed insulation, they use cheaper insulation without it or specific insulation for sound, which is what we did when remodeling our living room to prevent sound from the TV/stereo from bothering people sleeping in other rooms.

    It won't effect your Wifi signal as its on the external walls only and no one would use it on interior walls (even if they wanted to insulate) because its more expensive and just a waste of money in those locations.

    If you can't get a signal between the first floor and second floor of your home it has almost nothing to do with insulation and the fact that the antennas used on wifi routers are designed to radiate horizontally from the antenna (perpendicular to its orientation). It would be, in almost every case, a complete waste of RF energy to broadcast a signal upwards from a WAP when for most cases there will be no one above it or below it that its supposed to get too.

    Finally ... it has VERY LITTLE EFFECT on the signal. My home is completely wrapped in it, walls and attic, and we sit on a slab, yet I still have no problem picking up and connecting to any wifi access point within 2 houses of me (and we aren't talking about town homes 10 feet from each other, at least 100-150 feet between homes), though its not like I'm getting full speed out of 802.11g with it, though my workshop, which is about 75 feet from my home will consistently get 10mb out of it, and it is insulated with brand new (built 3 years ago) foil backed insulation as well.

    Does it effect the signal, sure, everything does. Does it effect it enough to care about it over the massive energy savings for heating and cooling? No, not even a little.

    The home owner is likely to be none the wiser about the size of the wiring in his home either, and wether its really designed to be used like many of us where we have several machines in one room functioning as servers/routers/firewalls for our home networks drawing way more power than the home was designed to deliver to a single outlet. As a general rule, if you don't know what that shiny material is, there are far more important things in your home that you should learn about first if your worried about how your technology is going to be effected. Wiring of the home would be top on my list. Clean power is far more of a concern than insulation. Nothing worse than wiring thats too small for the job causing your power supplies or UPSes to continually be fighting surges and spikes due to turning off and on other equipment. Older homes with shared runs using 14 gauge wire to power multiple outlets are far more damaging and problematic than the insulation, they are also considerably more dangerous in a modern world where 10 amps simply isn't enough power for some home appliances at startup (vacuum cleaner, microwave, big plasma TVs). You really want 12 gauge as a minimum, with individual runs from the breaker box to EACH outlet, 10 gauge if you can afford it is a much better choice and far safer. Considering how little it effects the cost of a new build, you'd be an idiot if you were given the option and didn't take it.

  • Yeah jackass my house is made from freaking chicken wire. Mylar, lol I got a god damn Faraday cadge.

  • you say it like it's a bad thing!

  • I'm not worried about the wi-fi because I have a wireless router. But the cell phone reception is horrendous. I take a few steps outside and it's fine. While I was fixing the place up I had poked some holes in the walls and found metal beams inside. The place is like a giant Faraday cage. The fact that it's the bottom floor of a three-story condo doesn't help either.

    I just spent $250 (it was on sale, too. Normally it's $400) on a cell phone signal booster. I hope it helps.

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