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Wireless signal penetration

In this Q&A, Lisa Phifer addresses wireless signal penetration power of 802.11g versus 802.11b.

I used an 802.11g upgrade kit to replace my previous 802.11b wireless card. I found that the wireless signal penetration power of 802.11g is worse than 802.11b especially the wireless signal pass through obstacle such as walls. Is this normal for 802.11g?
802.11b and 802.11g share the same 2.4 GHz frequency band, which means that transmissions on a given b/g channel should travel the same distance under identical environmental conditions (e.g., power output, physical obstacles, modulation). In theory, the OFDM modulation used by 802.11g should have a slightly greater range than the DSSS modulation used by 802.11b. However, what you may be noticing is that speed and distance are inversely related. An 802.11g card will operate at 54 Mbps over a much shorter distance than an 802.11b card will operate at 11 Mbps. For example, consider these Belkin AP "maximum distance" specifications: 802.11b @ 11 Mbps: 180 meters, 802.11g @ 18 Mbps: 150 meters, 802.11g @ 54 Mbps 50 meters [ pdf ]. Make sure that your 802.11g card isn't configured with a minimum data rate that would prevent it from falling back to the lower "b" speeds required to reach greater distances.
This was first published in November 2005

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