By now, you've learned to take the advertised signal ranges of most Wi-Fi products with a grain of salt. That is, the advertised signal range rarely translates to the range that you will actually experience when you install the product. There are far too many variables that affect the range; most of these are the result of the operating environment.
Many advertisers claim that their devices can achieve between 150 feet to 300 feet coverage indoors. The advertised range may be achievable with an unobstructed line of sight between the access point and the Wi-Fi adapter. However, even then, you are likely to realize lower performance than expected. This can be attributed to a number of factors, including:
- Interference from other RF sources in your home
-Increased signal attenuation caused by obstacles such as walls and furniture
- Hardware and software configuration errors
- Exaggerated claims by manufacturer
Note: Attenuation is the loss of signal power when transmitting. This happens naturally as the distance increases from transmitter to receiver, and it can be exacerbated by interference from obstacles in the signal path.
Marketing departments always put forth a best-case scenario for signal range, which is often based on lab conditions that you aren't very likely to be comparable to those found in the typical consumer's home. Also, the results may be based on a particular equipment configuration, such as adding a ceiling-mounted, high-gain antenna. Remember, the advertised range is usually stated as "possible" or "up to" a certain number of feet; it's not guaranteed and never expressed as the minimum achievable result.
Signal range is important because it doesn't just affect the coverage area of your WLAN; it also affects quality of service (QoS) and the throughput. The further away that you are from an access point, the weaker the signal will be. Even though you may actually detect a signal 150 feet from an access point, the signal could be too weak to allow connection.