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Wireless Broadband service and LONG Range

2007-02-28 (updated: 2008-04-15) by


Thanks for such a great website that helps the end-user so much.  However, I wanted to help out everyone that seeís your website find broadband access and help them with their routers and wireless networks.

First a bit about myself, I own and operate two different Wireless ISPs.  So I know a bit about Wireless technology, not to mention can get 802.11b radios to talk to each other at 25 miles apart!  I can assure you that your home Linksys or D-Link, isínt up to the challenge, but I bet I can help some people get more wireless access around the house!

First, letís start with Wireless ISPís or WISPs.  Believe it or not, there are thousands out there, most operating in the outlying underserved towns and areas outside of major cities.  There are also quite a few inside big cities, doing what they do best.  One of the best resources is  This is a group the helps WISPs and provides services and a compete state by state listing of any WISP that wishes to be listed.  If you are tired of cable or DSL, in some cases, WISPs can deliver more bandwidth, faster, more reliably, and have better customer service!

Sounds like an oxy-moron, an internet provider with good service, however, quite a few of these companies are 2-3 man shops, so your installer is the same guy who runs the network and bills you for your service.  Having a single point of contact, and talking to the same guy every time is always a plus, you donít have to tell your story to someone else who really doesnít care because he is one of 300 people in this building that all they do is answer your calls. 

Also, unlike DSL or cable, most WISPs offer symmetrical service, that is, the same speed both ways.  You will pay for this service, but, it is typically cheaper than other high speed connections.

The best way to get started is to find yourself a WISP and contact them to see if you are in their coverage area.  Once that happens, some companies can install within a few days, by placing an antenna on your roof that is close to your satellite dish for TV service.  But donít be fooled, there is a big difference compared to the services of Direct Way or other satellite internet providers. 

One of the biggest differences is speed; Direct Way offers a 400k package, where fixed wireless in most areas can go up to 6000k, and in some areas even higher, with packages in the 10-15meg area!  The second difference is latency; the time it takes data to go from your computer to the internet and back.  Most fixed wireless networks can get you to the internet in less than 5ms; compare that to the 20+ for DSL and cable and the 400-800ms that Direct Wayoffers.   VoIP and online gaming is as fast as can be.

Most companies offer no money out of pocket installation with a one or two year term, just like most DSL or cable operators.  So I am sure that you can find something that will work for you.

I mentioned that I can get 802.11b to go 25 miles, and yes, I have done this, I believe the longest was 110 miles, but that was not using off the shelf gear.   So how do you get more range with your wireless router?  First, you need to know what hardware you have.  Most of your off the shelf routers or wireless access points use 60 milliwatt radios and 2db gain antennas.   Some of the more expensive devices are 100 milliwatts.  To put this in perspective, 100mw (milliwatts) is .1 or 10% of a single watt.  Very low power compared to the 1000 watt AM radio stations that are out there. 

Now we need to convert the milliwatts into db, so 60mw is 17.5db then you add your 2db gain antenna.  You end up with a whopping 19.5db transmitter.  Also note that every 2db doubles your signal.  So by adding the 2db antenna you are doubling your output.

This is good for home use, but just by swapping out the 2db antenna with say a 5db, you have now a 22.5db transmitter, plus your router can now hear 2x better, because the antenna also boosts what the router can receive!

What if you put a 200mw or 23db radio on a 12db antenna!  Ohhh ahhhh, now we are talking, 35db - what kind of range can you get out of that ? Well, long and short, as long as you are on a single floor not too much higher or lower than what your antenna is at, much longer range!   That is because the 12db antenna has a much flatter signal, it only goes out at about 7 degrees from a straight line, but you can get some other antennas at say, 8db, that do much better, 20-30 degrees from center.

Where to get these, well I recommend, great place, and you can buy some serious hardware there, not to mention new 400mw radios!  But be careful, it is against the law to go above 36db and in an area such as around your home; there would be no need for such equipment.

Words of wisdom, I hope I hear some feedback and questions!

Dennis Burgess

  User Reviews/Comments:
by anonymous - 2008-08-14 21:43
3 dB is double the power, not 2.
1 milliwatt is equal to 0 dBm. All the power discussion in the article is in dBm. not dB.
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