Use 802.11 Antennas to Expand Your Wi-Fi Network

It's difficult to think that only a few decades ago, you would only find Wi-Fi connections in labs or offices, let alone a consumer device that could connect to it. Nowadays, it's as ubiquitous as electricity and taken for granted just as much. If you have a large property that requires an internet connection in structures such as cottages far away, your best bet is to buy a directional antenna system, instead of opting for wired connectivity.

What Is IEEE 802.11?

  • WLAN: IEEE stands for Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. The numbers stand for the standard that the institute has settled for in implementing wireless local area network (WLAN) communication between computers in various frequency bands from 900 MHz to 60 GHz. 
  • Wi-Fi: This is the settled name for the technology for WLAN on devices using the IEEE 802.11 standards. It is the trademark of the Wi-Fi Alliance and unofficially stands for Wireless Fidelity. 

What Types of 802.11 Antennas Are Available?

  • Directional: These antennas are used for point-to-point and multi-point wireless systems depending on the setup. This type is ideal for allowing a connection from one location, like a central hub with a router to another location like a cottage 700 meters away.
  • Omni-Directional: These antenna systems carry the signal as a base antenna that distributes the signal to other devices in a network. These are usually small desktop antennas, ceiling domes, or vertical omnis. 
  • Point-to-point: These systems provide a connection between two wireless points such as for building-to-building connections. This system is ideal for connecting two buildings separated by a valley.
  • Point to multi-point: This system is used to share a WLAN inside your home with others via a router. Routers are common in wireless access points like coffee shops, airports, and truck stops.

What Types of Directional Antennas Can I Buy?

  • Backfires: These antennas are capable of 15 dBi of gain with a frequency range of up to 2.5 GHz. Some manufacturers decrease the antennas radiation pattern, allowing you to point the signal exactly where you need it to for increased security. 
  • Yagi: This high gain antenna has a frequency range of up to 2.5 GHz as well and over 15 dBi of gain. Some have narrow 28-degree half power beamwidth ideal for long distance wireless linking.
  • Panel: These are flat panel antennas with tight beamwidths to minimize interference in the microwave link. As rugged and waterproof options, these are ideal for exposed outdoor use.
  • Dish type: Dishes often offer 24 dBi of gain with tight beamwidths of up to 8 degrees. These are typically constructed out of two separate diecast aluminum pieces assembled together during installation.