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Communications Wireless Networking

New Houses Killing Wi-Fi 358

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

    by gatkinso ( 15975 ) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @09:45AM (#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!

  • Re:Non-issue really (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 14, 2011 @09:45AM (#35817210)

    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 @09:46AM (#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.

  • Phones? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by identity0 ( 77976 ) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @09:48AM (#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.

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

    by RingDev ( 879105 ) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @10:19AM (#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.


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

    by agentgonzo ( 1026204 ) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @10:29AM (#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!

... though his invention worked superbly -- his theory was a crock of sewage from beginning to end. -- Vernor Vinge, "The Peace War"