The Speed Test

Choosing the Right Wireless Internet Antenna

When setting up a wireless internet installation it is so easy to forget about your antenna. In fact, your signal will only be as good as your antenna and you want to make sure that the antenna you pick matches the intended use and it will affect your network speed.


For example, you need to consider if it is an outdoor or indoor antenna. Each has its own unique set of requirements which must be selected to provide adequate coverage.


A Wireless Antenna can be either Omni directional or Directional. Depending on the topology and the area you need to cover, you should select your antenna appropriately. Omni directional antennas are great in an environment where there is a clear line of sight between the sender and receivers. The power is evenly spread to all points. (Omni directional)


If you have obstacles in your line of sight, you need to use directional Wireless antenna?s. This concentrates the signal power in a specific direction and allows you to use less power for a greater distance then an omni directional antenna. You would need something like this if you have trees or buildings in the signal path. You should also consider using a directional antenna if you have to cover long distances across mall's, office buildings, warehouses or other types of environments.


The better the signal between the sender and receiver the higher speed you can run over the network because if the signal is clear, there is little need to re-transmit packets of wireless information over and over.


Now if you know you have a very directional point to point signal you need to transmit, then it?s worth considering a parabolic antenna. This is used to bridge two points over a long distance. While the antenna is more expensive, it can do things that the average directional antenna cannot. Parabolic antennas look like big umbrellas and are fixed in position, you cannot have them move after setup as their signal is highly concentrated into a small area. You will mostly find parabolic antennas in outdoor use and these require special knowledge to setup.


If you are setting up your wireless network at home it is unlikely you will have a lot of choice over antenna. Most likely the base station will come with a little antenna that will provide an adequate signal for the home.   There is aftermarket antenna?s that you can get that will increase range considerably.  The one I have used is the Xterasys 2.4GHz 9dbi omni and have had great success.


Two important points worth remembering. First, if you setup an antenna outside you will need to get planning permission. Most city governments have strict rules about how and where outdoor antennas can be setup. And second, if you do have an outside antenna make sure that the antenna is protected against lightning. You don't want to find your equipment fried after a storm. For these two reasons you should purchase well designed and manufactured wireless LAN antennas.

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