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What kind of wireless antenna range performance issues might impact my wireless connection?

Radio waves don't really travel the same distance in all directions. Walls, doors, elevator shafts, people, and other obstacles offer varying degrees of attenuation, which cause the Radio Frequency (RF) radiation pattern to be irregular and unpredictable. Attenuation is simply a reduction of signal strength during transmission. Attenuation is registered in decibels (dB), which is ten times the logarithm of the signal power at a particular input divided by the signal power at an output of a specified medium. For example, an office wall (i.e., medium) that changes the propagation of an RF signal from a power level of 200 milliwatts (the input) to 100 milliwatts (the output) represents 3 dB of attenuation. The following provides some examples of the attenuation values of common office construction:

  • Plasterboard wall: 3dB
  • Glass wall with metal frame: 6dB
  • Cinder block wall: 4dB
  • Office window: 3dB
  • Metal door: 6dB
  • Metal door in brick wall: 12.4dB
Other factors that will reduce range and affect coverage area include concrete fiberboard walls, aluminum siding, pipes and electrical wiring, microwave ovens, and cordless phones.

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