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What Is the Typical Range of a Wi-Fi Network?


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Question: What Is the Typical Range of a Wi-Fi Network?
Answer: The range of a Wi-Fi computer network depends on the number and type of routers and/or wireless access points being used. Factors that determine a device's range are:
  • the specific 802.11 protocol employed
  • the overall strength of the device transmitter
  • the nature of obstructions and interference in the surrounding area
A general rule of thumb in home networking says that 802.11b/g/n and devices support a range of up to 150 feet (46 m) indoors and 300 feet (92 m) outdoors.

Another rule of thumb holds that the effective range of 802.11a is approximately one-third that of 802.11b/g/n.

Both of these rough estimates represent the high end of the range seen in practice. Obstructions in home such as brick walls and metal frames or siding greatly can reduce the range of a Wi-Fi network by 25% or more. 5 GHz Wi-Fi connections like those of 802.11a are more susceptible to obstructions than more the more common 2.4 GHz connections. Interference from microwave ovens and other equipment also affects Wi-Fi network range. Because 2.4 GHz radios are commonly used in consumer gadgets, 802.11b/g/n protocols are generally more susceptible to interference inside residential buildings.

Building a network with multiple wireless routers (or access points) can extend a Wi-Fi network to much longer distances. Though the cost can be high, wireless hotspots spanning several square miles (kilometers) have been built in some cities.

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