Tag Archives: WiFi antenna

Cables on Demand Guide to Better Wi-Fi: Part Two




Guide to Better Wi-Fi Part Two:   Tools of the Trade


Part one of out exclusive Guide to Better Wi-Fi served as an introduction to topic, with particular emphasis placed on the history, environmental and channel characteristics of Wi-Fi technology.  The challenges encountered by the typical Wi-Fi network user and/or administrator are profuse; primarily due to extreme overcrowding of the prominent 2.4 GHz 802.11B/G/N Wi-Fi band. 


Wherever Wi-Fi signal density is classified as medium to high, such as urban and suburban housing, commercial districts, and educational campuses, problems such as wild fluctuations in wireless signal strength, dropped connections, sluggish response times and unreliable download speeds become par for the course.  Unfortunately, such conditions have become so pervasive in the technologically sophisticated society we live in today, many Wi-Fi adopters have simply come to believe a subpar wireless networking experience is acceptable.


Well, the good news is…it doesn’t have to be that way!  There are many tips and tricks out there to be tried; many of which will cost you absolutely nothing to try.  Before we dive into specific solutions, we need to talk about what I consider to be the “Tools of the Trade”.  Perhaps the most critical tool of all is the ability to conduct a little Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) on the Wi-Fi band(s). 


While this may sound complicated and expensive, Wi-Fi SIGINT is a surprisingly simple endeavor.  Essentially you want to turn your desktop PC, laptop or tablet into a fully functional Wi-Fi Scanner.  You may be familiar with the once popular police scanner, a stand-alone device capable of scanning multiple radio frequencies in a short period of time; enabling a user to listen to fast-changing police, fire, military or aircraft communications.


Luckily, your computer or tablet’s Wi-Fi adapter can be easily re-purposed as a Wi-Fi scanner while remaining to perform its principal duties of sending and receiving Wi-Fi network traffic with a connected wireless access point.  In fact, your Wi-Fi adapter is constantly scanning or “roaming” the Wi-Fi band looking for the best signal to latch onto.  Because this activity is being performed in the background with the assistance of the operating system, you may never be fully aware of its built-in scanning capacity.


That’s where my favorite Wi-Fi Tool of the Trade comes into play:








While there are multiple versions of metageek’s InSSIDer on the market for the home, office, or handheld device, this article series will specifically address InSSIDer Home version  This version, designed for use on any Windows PC, laptop or tablet, is absolutely FREE to use for home and related-sized Wi-Fi networks.  It’s extremely easy to use, provides a wealth of valuable data and even offers direct tips under select circumstances to improve your Wi-Fi network performance.


To help save our fellow blog followers the time and effort to locate this copy of InSSIDer, we’ve posted the InSSIDer MSI windows installer package on our server for a quick and easy download!  Simply click on the link below to download the installer package.





Once you’ve installed InSSIDer on your system, congratulations!  You’ve successfully converted your computer or tablet into a full-function Wi-Fi Scanner.  We will dive into InSSIDer’s “insides” in the next article in this series.  In the meantime, there are a few other critical tools of the trade that you will need in order to implement the recommended changes to your Wi-Fi network configuration.


InSSIDer is simply one piece of the puzzle.  You cannot rely on its readings alone to optimize your Wi-Fi network.  You will also need a reliable network speed test platform to properly test for the maximum upload and download speeds your hardware will support.  They can also provide valuable data about your network’s latency and signal skew performance.  My personal favorite:


OOKLA Speed Test 



To use the OOKLA Speed Test, simply type the following web address into any web enabled device:





OOKLA also makes a great stand-alone version of their popular speed test in the form of an Android App.  This version is better suited for smaller sized devices such as smart phones and tablets.  Download a free ad-supported copy by searching for “OOKLA speed test” in the Android Market / Google Play store.


Now that you have access to these important Tools of the Trade, it’s time to start scanning your home or office Wi-Fi environment and optimizing your Wi-Fi network.  We will continue the discussion from here in part three of this multi-part Guide to Better Wi-Fi — coming soon exclusively at CablesOnDemandBlog.com.




The Cable Guy


Amphenol Cables on Demand







The Cables on Demand Guide to Better Wi-Fi — Part One




Guide to Better Wi-Fi Part One:   Introduction


The global proliferation of Wi-Fi devices over the past decade has proven to be nothing short of astounding in its massive scope.  Amazingly, enough Wi-Fi capable devices are being brought into the marketplace to provide every single person on the planet with one new Wi-Fi device per year.  24 billion Wi-Fi devices are projected to be online globally by the end of the decade.  Sounds great, right?


Well, in theory, it is a wonderful thing, but the trend of connecting everything to a Wi-Fi network comes at a substantial price.  Although there are technically two primary Wi-Fi bands from which to operate, including the 2.4 GHz band and the 5 GHz band, well over 9 out of every 10 Wi-Fi networks today operates in the crowded 2.4 GHz band.  The 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi band enjoys greater popularity because the technology behind it is simpler and cheaper — and therefore better suited to mass production and adaptation by the marketplace.



Small Wi-Fi Module  


Pictured Above:  Full Wi-Fi Capabilities on a Coin-Sized Chip




When you can squeeze full 2.4 GHz band Wi-Fi functionality onto a circuit board the size of a coin, anything and everything will soon be designated as a “Smart” device vying for their own limited slice of the Wi-Fi airwaves.  Whether your “Smart” refrigerator is sending off a wireless signal that you are low on milk, or your “Smart” sprinkler system is going online to check the weather forecast, it all competes for space.  When that space is occupied, it ultimately leads to a degradation of network connection quality and throughput (speed).




Wi-Fi 2.4/5GHz Band Comparison:   The AM/FM Radio Analogy



Perhaps the best way to understand the strengths and liabilities of each of the Wi-Fi bands is to look back to a much older technology: Radio Broadcasting.  The oldest broadcast band, the AM band, can work great during the daytime with low-bandwidth content such as Talk Radio or News. Once you attempt to broadcast high bandwidth content such as music, the quality limitations of the technology become blaringly obvious.  The sound of music on AM is hollow — it lacks definition with its flat bass response and practically no high frequency (treble) characteristics, thereby making music lifeless.


It only gets worse from there.  Try tuning in a weak AM station during the evening and you will often be presented with a complete mess on your hands.  On one station frequency, or channel, you may hear 10 different radio stations overlapping each other at the same time.  The station you want to listen to, which may only be 25 miles away, may get completely trounced upon by an AM station located 2,000 miles across the country!  Needless to say, the listening experience on AM is nearly ruined by its technological limitations.


The 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi band can easily be considered the “AM” band of Wi-Fi.  If your home or business occupies a fairly population-dense area, whether it may be an apartment complex or a business district high-rise, it is not inconceivable for there to be dozens if not hundreds of competing Wi-Fi networks sharing the 2.4 GHz band.  With only 11 channels to choose from in the 2.4 GHz band, your Wi-Fi network will undoubtedly be forced to share one of those 11 channels with several other networks. 


Like AM broadcasting during the daytime, sometimes your network can peacefully co-exist on the exact same channel as another network.  Your equipment’s error-correction capabilities will do its best to strip away the competing network traffic and make your network’s signal the dominant one.  However, error correction can only go so far.  If a 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi channel is too saturated by the competition, it suddenly resembles AM broadcasting during the night.  Your network traffic may break through in certain areas, but even if it does, the connection speed and quality will suffer.


When the specifications for the 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi band were initially laid out, it was based on the idea that the signal would only require a small amount of bandwidth.  The original standard operated at only 2 Megabits per second (2 Mbps).  It was soon upgraded to the 802.11b standard at 11 Megabits per second.  At this speed, the signal would be able to take up just one channel-wide space and not interfere with an adjacent channel, i.e. part of your signal on channel 1 spills over into channel 2, making reception on channel 2 worse for another network operating on that channel in the vicinity.


The rapid evolution of the internet in recent years has drastically raised the requirement for bandwidth — especially with high-definition digital video content which could easily max out an 11 Mbps Wi-Fi channel.  If more than one video stream is being sent at the same time, the system won’t have the capacity to handle it.  This lead next to the 802.11g standard on the 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi band, raising the throughput (speed) to 54 Mbps.  When it too was insufficient, 802.11n came to market with speeds up to 600 Mbps — a HUGE increase.


The problem now is, you cannot squeeze 600 Mbps of data throughput into a single narrow channel — it just isn’t possible.  To make it work, the Wi-Fi router has to use multiple antennas and spread the signal out amongst multiple channels.  If you were operating a Wi-Fi network on an isolated country farm, this might be doable, but if you are like most people, you will operate the network in a more population-dense urban or suburban area. 


A single tenant could operate a higher powered 802.11n 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi router/access point on a middle floor using channel 6 and potentially broadcast over 82% of the entire 11 channel 2.4 GHz band throughout an entire building!  Imagine if multiple tenants try and do the same configuration with their networks — the resulting mess will be hard to filter through for any other active Wi-Fi devices within the immediate area.


Now for the good news — The Cable Guy is here to help!  Over the course of several new articles in this series, I will discuss several practical “real-world” tips, tricks and strategies to ensure your Wi-Fi network is dominating the air space in which you want it to operate.  I will help guide you through both the software and the hardware side of the issue, since they are both important factors to consider. 


Primarily, I want to focus on strategies that cost absolutely nothing to implement, other than a little time and patience of course!  If you are like many Wi-Fi network users in crowded areas of the country — your patience has no doubt been worn down already.  Don’t despair, these simple and effective strategies should help dramatically. 


Stay Tuned for the next article of this series in which I will discuss several “tools of the trade” used for Wi-Fi optimization and guide you through their effective usage in making your Wi-Fi experience a better one.





The Cable Guy


Product Manager

Amphenol Cables on Demand






Question: What is the Difference Between SMA and Reverse Polarity SMA Connectors?

Tech Support: Reverse Polarity Connectors


(Image Comparing Standard and Reverse Polarity SMA)


Question:  What’s the difference between a regular SMA Connector and a Reverse Polarity SMA Connector?
In the late 1990’s, at the dawn of the WiFi technology boom that has inevitably changed the way we communicate, the Federal Communications Commission was greatly concerned.  Soon, wireless routers and access points would be entering the market and blasting the airwaves with short-distance transmissions that had never previously entered our airspace.  While these devices were designed to have a limited range, generally enough to cover a typical residence or office, the FCC knew that it was only a matter of time before users would attempt to boost the device’s range with amplifiers and/or external antennas, which could potentially wreak havoc on the WiFi band.
The FCC’s solution was a stop-gap measure known as Reverse Polarity Connectors.  For decades, SMA and TNC connectors have been used successfully for high-frequency applications, such as cell-phone networks.  The problem was that SMA’s and TNC’s were readily available on the market in the form of coaxial cable assemblies and antennas.  To prevent users from equipping their wireless routers with such accessories, the FCC mandated the WiFi manufacturers utilize a new type of connector on the back of their devices — The Reverse Polarity Connector. For a couple of years, this strategy worked, but eventually Reverse Polarity versions of SMA and TNC connectors, known as RP-SMA and RP-TNC respectively, became just as readily available as their regular counterparts.
So how do you tell which one is which?  A second look at the image above will help you.  An SMA Male Connector is shown on the left.  Notice that there is a pin sticking out of the center of the connector.  A Reverse Polarity SMA (RP-SMA) Connector is displayed on the right.  Notice that instead of a center pin, there is a center socket.  It is the swapping out of a center pin for a center socket that makes the connector a Reverse Polarity SMA (RP-SMA).  Note that both of the above connectors are considered male connectors.  Male SMA and Male RP-SMA connectors both feature their threads on the inside of the connector shell, i.e. they twist onto a female SMA or RP-SMA connector that feature their threads on the outside of the shell.  
You can never mix and match SMA and RP-SMA connectors because the pins and sockets will never actually make contact and allow the signal to pass thru.  At Amphenol Cables on Demand (http://www.CablesOnDemand.com), we will soon be offering a complete selection of Reverse Polarity SMA (RP-SMA) and Reverse Polarity TNC (RP-TNC)  Coaxial Cable Assemblies for use with your WiFi equipment.  Not sure which type you need?  If the RP-SMA does not look familiar, below is a comparison of a TNC and Reverse Polarity TNC (RP-TNC) connector for your reference:
(Pictured: RP-TNC on Left & TNC on Right)
Stay tuned for the official launch of our new RP-SMA and RP-TNC Coaxial Cable Assemblies in the weeks ahead at: http://www.CablesOnDemand.com.
The Cable Guy