How can signal strength be stronger for an outside wireless which is further away?

Posted on 2008-11-06
Last Modified: 2013-11-09
Hi Everyone;

        Every so often, we often notice the wireless strength is stronger or has more bars for an outside, unsecured wireless network as compared to our own wireless.  Logically, this does not make since when looking at the obstacle of "distance" upon signal strength of a wireless.  For instance, it is reasonable to say the router within our own wireless is "closer" to the wireless pc's as compared to the transmitting router on an outside wireless.  There must be other factors which perhaps has an even greater effect than even distance.  

           Any shared thoughts to this question will be appreciated.  It will be enlightening to review any possible rationales for this observation.

           Thank you.

Question by:GMartin
    LVL 11

    Accepted Solution

    If the distant AP has a "gain" antenna -- that is, one that increases effective power in one direction -- then you can easily see high readings. Gain antennas don't actually amplify the RF signal, as you might think from the word "gain". They only make the signal stronger in part of the potential antenna field. Omnidirectional WiFi antennas generally produce a circular or two-lobed pancake antenna pattern -- not very tall, but up to 300 feet wide in a circular or figure eight shape. Gain antennas vary in their signal pattern shape. Some just push most of the signal to one hemisphere of the potential radiation pattern. Others, such as planar or yagi antennas, are much more directional, concentrating the signal into an arc perhaps 45 or less degees wide. The most directional antenna of the yagi variety is the so-called "cantenna", which can be made from a Pringles can. A great article on the history of the Pringles Cantenna is at:

    LVL 44

    Assisted Solution

    That's a simple yet accurate explanation of a concept many are unable to grasp, packetguy.  :-)

    Also, most 'home and SOHO' grade wireless routers/access points come nowhere near the maximum allowed output power. e.g. the WRT54G family made by Linksys typically puts out less than 30 mW prior to the antenna, and even with the 5-6 dBi of gain the stock antennae add, they're still under 100 mW EIRP once the connection/coax losses are added in.

    Author Comment

    Hi Everyone;

             Thanks for the followups to this question in addition to the link.  As always, I learned much from this the shared feedback here.


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