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Network antennas improve your wireless connection

Wireless access (particularly Wi-Fi and cellular) is something we take for granted. But what happens when it fails to live up to expectations? Perhaps your smartphone struggles to get a single bar when used to make cellular calls inside your home. Or maybe you have wireless security cameras in your yard that keep dropping off your Wi-Fi network. These are situations where a network antenna is invaluable, bringing wireless connectivity to areas that struggle.

What is a network antenna?

A network antenna is a device that is used to receive wireless signals, which can then be picked up by devices connected on the same network. It may also be used to broadcast a wireless signal sent by connected devices.

The built-in antennas of many devices like smartphones, laptops, and wireless security cameras are designed to be unobtrusive. That’s great for portability and a modern look, but the compact design limits their range. Network antennas are much more obvious, but they can have a range of hundreds of metres.

What are network antennas used for?

There are many reasons why a network antenna might be used, but they all boil down to a single key requirement: the ability to broadcast and/or receive a wireless signal with the data accessible to connected devices.

One of the more popular uses is with Wi-Fi. Connecting a Wi-Fi network antenna to your router can extend the signal outdoors, giving Wi-Fi access to devices in the back yard or an outbuilding. Another popular application is a network antenna for cellular use. In a building that has poor cellular reception, attaching an antenna to the roof or pole-mounting it can improve cellular reception for smartphones being used inside.

How do network antennas work?

Network antennas work by picking up or broadcasting wireless signals. If they are receiving, they convert the electromagnetic signal into electrical signals that are then processed by connected devices. When a network antenna is used for broadcasting, it does the opposite: converting signal packets generated by a device on the network, and broadcasting that as an electromagnetic signal.

Network antennas can be one of two main types. Directional antennas are designed to pick up or broadcast in a specific direction. This direction can be changed by rotating or moving the antenna. Omni-directional network antennas pick up or broadcast a signal in 360 degrees. Directional antennas have the advantage of distance. Omnidirectional antennas broadcast or receive data over a shorter range, but they have a much wider coverage area.

In addition, a network antenna may be powered. A powered antenna amplifies the signal. giving it further range than a passive one.