Airport distance

Posted on 2004-08-08
Last Modified: 2008-02-07
Does anybody know what distance an Airport Base station is supposed to work to.  I have it set up in one room and it often takes ages or the connection fails when Im in another room.  Are you not supposed to be able to change rooms?

Question by:helenjennings
LVL 30

Expert Comment

ID: 11746638
You should be able to cover a 3,000 sq foot house with one. Straight line youll get ~200 feet. If the walls in your house are especially thick, insulated, made of rock etc, your range will be diminished. Also if you have interference from wireless phones, microwaves, etc your range will be lower.
LVL 17

Accepted Solution

davebytes earned 60 total points
ID: 11747626
Airport is standard 802.11b for the original, 802.11g for the Extreme.  General range is about 150ft.  Every wall, floor, etc. cuts that distance down -- and depending upon the material can block the signal more.  Any microwaves or 2.4GHz phones will cause noise/breakdown of the signal.

Best to have it centered in a house, or within a wall or two.

Other option is to get a directional or stronger omni antenna -- depends on your model, here's some sample links:
  (same looking product)
(airport extreme)


Assisted Solution

bchali earned 20 total points
ID: 11995925

With wireless clients, Asanté Technologies testing recorded approx. 350 outdoors with line-of-sight with 802.11b (11Mbps) connectivity.  This distance decreases if the link is established with 802.11g (54Mbps).  Link reception distance, however is very a tricky issue.  

Testing indicates that in an optimum environment like outside in a rural area with no competing electromagnetic signals and open line of site, the unit will work for several hundred feet, maybe even more.  Indoors, through walls, and competing with other signals, the usable distance can diminish significantly.  Sometimes, three or four hundred feet works fine.  In other buildings, 100 feet is about the limit.

Here is the maximum indoor operating range discovered during testing.  The actual indoor environment can negatively affect these distances (as mentioned previously given the walls, floors, and general structure).  Use these numbers as maximums, not actuals:
      11Mbps -      175 feet (53 meters)
      5.5Mbps -      265 feet (81 meters)
      2Mbps -      400 feet (122 meters)
      1Mbps -      500 feet (152 meters)

Here is the maximum outdoor operating range.  Again, the outdoor environment can negatively impact these distances:
      11Mbps -      850 feet (259 meters)
      5.5Mbps -      1200 feet (365 meters)
      2Mbps -      1320 feet (402 meters)
      1Mbps -      1650 feet (503 meters)

As to the actual connection distance for 802.11g (54Mbps) Asanté has no specific figures but it appears that about 75 feet (again as an average) is about the limit for 54Mbps connectivity straight-line (with any greater distance between the base and the WiFi device re-established at 11Mbps).  Add on antennas may help add distance, but again this is subjective.

Al : { )
LVL 17

Expert Comment

ID: 12007493
that's certainly some interesting tests.  Of course, I don't know what Asante was testing with, so unless they were testing an Airport base station with an Airport laptop, the numbers may or may not be valid... ;)

However, with all that info, still the best thing you can do if you are getting dropouts is a range booster/antenna, as I mentioned previously.


Assisted Solution

PAR1033 earned 20 total points
ID: 12125797
While the airport claims 100 to 150 foot range, in reality, this is only without interference and no walls.

You are experiencing the "reality" of using wireless within a building.  Your symptom is one of a signal too low.
Slow speed and no or dropped connections.

What can you do?
Try moving the base station.  Try to get as few walls or other obstructions between the base station and your Mac.
Closer is better.  One wall is good, two walls, worse, three walls, even worse, etc.

If your MAC is a notebook, try moving it around to see where it will connect, and where it will not.

When you connect, use it for a while.  Sometimes you can connect, but you will keep losing the signal. Very frustrating!
This just means the signal is not strong enough.  

Basically,  range claims are greatly inflated.   The amount of electrical interference in your location will also affect this. Allowing you to connect, and then the signal will seem to disapear.  

To get a stronger signal, there are range extenders.  I have had mixed results with these.  Try a directional antenna, expecially if it will boost your signal strenght.  I believe they are the best value to extend range.

- PAR1033

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