As I mentioned in my previous blog (“What’s the key to maximizing the subscriber experience? Happy Wi-Fi”), many subscribers are struggling with Wi-Fi-related issues, including limited coverage. Even with the latest specification (802.11ac) most wireless access points (WAPs) have coverage limitations — regardless of the number of antennas or the ambitious claims printed on the box.
The fact is, Wi-Fi technology uses unlicensed spectrum and best effort protocol. Modern WAPs are susceptible to interference from other wireless devices, including microwaves, garage door openers, baby monitors, and many other household devices. Wireless transmissions are also limited by obstacles and building materials (e.g., metal, concrete, plaster/stucco, and bricks). Most subscribers have probably noticed that as they — and their connected devices — move further away from the WAP, speeds diminish.
Boosting the strength of the signal is no longer an option, as the maximum amount of power that a WAP can transmit is often limited by local regulations so other devices can share the same radio spectrum. In the United States, for example, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) dictates that unlicensed device power emissions cannot exceed 1 Watt (W) total for all antennas. In the European Union, transmission limits range from one-tenth of a watt (100 mW) to 1W. The bottom line? The coverage issue cannot be resolved with brute force any more.
In my next blog, I’ll explore other options that aim to solve Wi-Fi coverage problems. In the meantime, check out our Carrier Class Wi-Fi GigaCenters to see how subscriber driven service providers around the world are delivering a superior broadband experience.