Q

What sort of range does a typical 802.11g 2.4GHz router have?

What sort of range does a typical 802.11g 2.4GHz router have? If I have two wireless routers approximately 750 feet away from one another, can they still communicate? I have a situation where a user needs access to the internet and our POP is about 750 feet away from him.
According to this article, the Guinness world record for Wi-Fi distance is 192 miles, accomplished by Alvarion through open air from a Swedish weather balloon. On the ground, where Wi-Fi transmissions are obstructed and reflected, an outdoor 55 mile reach was demonstrated by two teens at 2004 DefCon. WSU students claim to have demonstrated two-way 2.4 GHz communication at 82 miles.

Of course, these are extreme examples, detecting the slightest bit of signal, amplified over long distances, using after-market antennas to focus output power. Typical wireless APs (or routers) with factory-installed antennas are lucky to deliver data a usable rates at open space distances up to 300 feet. Indoor/obstructed reach can be much less.

To connect your routers at 750 feet (depending upon obstructions), you will probably need amplifiers and/or directional antennas. Check out this tip to for a quick primer on Wi-Fi antennas, or this in-depth how-to on boosting WLAN performance. You'll find some low-cost "range extenders" on the market, but anecdotal experiences vary -- for example, read diverse opinions about the Linksys WRE54G posted at Tom's Networking.

This was last published in February 2005

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