• Nick Thomas

Wireless basics

Light and fluffy one today. I've got an exam in 3 days time so I've neglected my blogging in favor of work and study, my apologies =S "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" - Arthur C. Clarke


Wireless isn't magic, but it sure acts like it sometimes - it stretches across the road from your neighbors house and yet yours won't reach the back room of the house. Sound familiar? I won't profess this to be a definitive guide on how wireless works - far from - but it should give you a decent enough grounding. Wireless standards: Important things to note - speed and signal strength usually go hand in hand, the higher the speed, the higher the signal strength. 1 MB/s (Megabyte per second) ~ 8Mbps (Megabits per second). There's 8 bits in a byte, but for simplicity just divide by 10 and give it some lee-way. More speed doesn't mean more speed - you've still got to pass through your internet connection which is going to be between 5-24Mbps (ADSL2+) or 12-100 (NBN) usually.

a/b/g - all but forgotten to the mists of time, providing up to 54Mbps of speed. n - providing 150-300Mbps, still around, now very cheap, still has its uses.

ac (WiFi 5) - until recently the bees-knees, provides up to 5400Mbps so far, though theoretically it's capable of something like 6933Mbps ax (WiFi 6) - The current leading standard, providing speeds up to 11000Mbps so far. Things that make wireless go *flop*:

Wireless doesn't like kitchens, bathrooms, laundries, brick or slight angles.

Kitchens, bathrooms and laundries - wireless doesn't like dense or reflective material. Anything that will impede or reflect it like bricks, tile, mirrors, washing machines, dishwashers, fridges. Usually this isn't too much of an issue, as these things are usually built at the extremities of the abode, but it's something to keep in mind when placing your router / wireless device. Slight angles - wireless doesn't like bricks - they're dense, they'll impede. If you go through a brick at a 90 degree angle, you'll go through... 11cm? 22 if it's double brick - it's not too bad. Say you go through a brick wall at a 15 degree angle? (*calculates*... - got a maths exam friday, so this should be accurate) you're now going through 45cm of brick for a single brick wall - that's going to soak up your wireless signal immensely. The same goes for upstairs/downstairs. If you're coming across this problem and you're connecting to the router through walls or floors on the diagonal, try to either reposition it or invest in a wireless repeater / powerline kit - they're fantastic.

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