Wireless Router Antenna Output Signal Strength

by David Lipscomb
Wireless routers enable increased freedom at work and play.

Wireless routers enable increased freedom at work and play.

Wireless routers free you from the constraints of the typical desktop environment. Using laptops, gaming consoles and tablets virtually anywhere within range of your Wi-Fi network provides a sense of liberation and flexibility that wired connections cannot provide. Placement of the wireless router as well as settings and security considerations are all important in creating a safe and effective wireless network.

Placement

Wireless router signals propagate across and down, making a central upstairs location the best. If this is impossible, keeping the router at least toward the middle of the structure and away from metal support beams, hot water heaters and other signal-absorbing elements helps with signal motility. Proper placement allows you to run the router at a lower power level, reducing heat and extending router life. It's also easier to keep the signal confined to a tighter space, so potentially sensitive information is not broadcast into the ether.

Wireless Modes

As you shop for routers, you'll notice a few different letters and terms. Wireless B and G are technically "older" broadcast mediums, although wireless G is still widely in use. Wireless G is capable of 54 megabits per second and provides a solid range. The wireless N protocol offers as much as 450 megabits per second, although this is highly dependent on your proximity to the router and the amount of signal interference present in your environment. Wireless N routers, however, are fully backward-compatible with G technology, meaning replacing your router doesn't entail purging your few-years-old laptop. Additionally, many routers offer hybrid operation, switching from N to G broadcasting to provide a combination of speed and range.

Security Issues

Wireless networking is inherently risky, since the data travels through the air instead of injected directly into an Ethernet port on your computer. As a result, using the best security your router and Wi-Fi adapters can handle is a smart move, keeping your data as secure as possible. Most routers ship using WEP security, which is compatible with everything but also the least secure. WPA and WPA2 security is far more effective at keeping the drive-by signal hijacker at bay, while maintaining a large degree of hardware compatibility.

Channels and Local Users

In any neighborhood or apartment complex, there's a good chance multiple wireless networks compete for space. Wireless routers offer 11 channels, mainly using channels 6 and 11 by default. However, if you notice a precipitous slowing in surfing or data transfer speed at certain times of the day, there's a high probability other wireless users are stepping on your signal. To alleviate this, configure your router's settings. The address 192.168.0.1 is used by many routers to access the router's settings. Some routers offer a map, showing which competing wireless users are broadcasting the strongest signal and on what channels. Change your router's channel, avoiding competing ones. You should see a marked uptick in signal strength.

About the Author

David Lipscomb is a professional writer and public relations practitioner. Lipscomb brings more than a decade of experience in the consumer electronics and advertising industries. Lipscomb holds a degree in public relations from Webster University.

Photo Credits

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