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Standard User eckiedoo
(fountain of knowledge) Thu 15-Mar-18 15:04:30
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Domestic WiFi Range or Distance

[link to this post]
I have generally accepted that typical Domestic WiFi has a generally limited range of around 50 Metres.

Because of the failure of my old PC, I have not dome any WiFi checks, such as ACRYLIC or inSSIDer for about 4 months; but tried Acrylic some days back.

I was surprised at the larger quantities showing up; and also of the decided increase of BT WiFi Hotspots, now clearly identified.

Especially as there are no significant quantities of new houses and the BB system has been running for about 3 years.

I decided to try seeing the ranges/distances, using those BT Hotspot sources as generally being similar if not identical sources. ignoring specific locations, orientations etc.

Also there is a BT WiFi Hotspot mapping facility available, so that was likely to give me an independent source of locations.


The results have surprised me.

One BT HotSpot to the WSW is about 164 Metres to its apparent centre, on about the same level; but shadowed by a 90 M, 1970s Steel-Framed, Single Storey Primary School

The faint, furthest one to the ENE is about 320 Metres on the same basis; but it and the remainder are on significantly higher ground, effectively almost overlooking my location.

At present, I can't tie in to the named list from ACRYLIC; but Signal Strengths may yield clues.

I will attempt a more rigorous survey shortly.

Of course, it also is limited to what is "Detectable", not necessarily "Usable" and as I am on EE rather than BT. they are not accessible to me.
Standard User prlzx
(experienced) Sat 17-Mar-18 14:11:40
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Re: Domestic WiFi Range or Distance

[re: eckiedoo] [link to this post]
Domestic and SOHO routers are usually supplied with Wi-Fi defaults which transmit at the maximum allowed TX power.

This is even if a much lower level would reach all the rooms of a house, or would be better served by multiple access points at lower TX, or indeed even if it can be picked up by a smartphone outside the house, it's pointless if the router can't hear the phone replying.

This has been made worse by some also using wide channel widths (40MHz on 2.4GHz and 80Mhz or even 160MHz on 5GHz) which are inappropriate in many urban settings. This is partly to allow marketing to boast of higher headline speeds (and cheaper than increasing capacity by actually increasing the number of antennae / spatial streams).

Basically "powerful Wi-Fi" expressed in terms of Mbps and distances has gone the same way as the GHz war of processors years ago.

The ridiculous BT 'helicopter' advert is one of the worst examples of this i.e. why would you even want home Wi-Fi directed 20 storeys above you instead of sideways through 2 walls, and anyway how is the Wi-Fi (an internal LAN service on a user-replaceable box) a metric for how good or bad the broadband service is?

Scanning can also pickup outdoor PTP or PTMP wireless if operating in unlicensed channels.

The range of directional wireless in 5GHz depends on the antenna gain.
For example a modest 16dBi each end has good S/N for about 1km and with a 30degree beamwidth is not all that narrow.

The combination of indoor and outdoor wireless means ur city centre is full of it and because some operators don't know or care how to set power / plan channels / choose the right directional antenna, it can be almost impossible to find a space for a new link without upgrading to the 24 / 60GHz bands (and the kit for this runs into the £1000s for this).

prlzx on iDNET: VDSL / 21CN at ~40Mbps / 10Mbps
with IP4/6 (no v6? - not true Internet)

Edited by prlzx (Sat 17-Mar-18 14:26:44)

Standard User Michael_Chare
(fountain of knowledge) Sat 17-Mar-18 16:17:46
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Re: Domestic WiFi Range or Distance

[re: eckiedoo] [link to this post]
In reply to a post by eckiedoo:
I have generally accepted that typical Domestic WiFi has a generally limited range of around 50 Metres.

Wifi speeds decrease with distance. At the moment I have a adequate connection to my router as it is much (10 times) faster than the broadband speed. On the other hand it less than half the maximum connection speed that could be achieved if the PC and router were within a few feet of each other and there were no obstructions to the signal. The usable wifi data transfer speed is only about a quarter to a third of the connection speed.

Michael Chare

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Standard User ukhardy07
(knowledge is power) Sat 17-Mar-18 17:11:36
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Re: Domestic WiFi Range or Distance

[re: eckiedoo] [link to this post]
The newer BT Hubs have a much stronger range so this likely accounts for the extra BT points you are seeing.
Standard User eckiedoo
(fountain of knowledge) Mon 19-Mar-18 07:40:25
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Re: Domestic WiFi Range or Distance

[re: ukhardy07] [link to this post]
I also suspect that there may be a few transfers from other ISPs, given the surge of BT advertising.

The variety of ISPs seems to have shrunk; but I have no suitable records from those earlier times.

The main aspect of noting BT is its Hot-Spots, readily identifiable and mapped, with hopefully a significant quantity running the Hotspot, so others also with BT, can legitimately access them, to get a better appreciation of the working range WiFi.

I am unaware of any other comparable group; and I am hoping that some BT Hotspot/users and subscribers would follow up, so that we all get a better appreciation of the practical range/distance of simple domestic WiFi generally.

However, it looks as though I may have to subscribe temporarily to BT WiFi Hotspot.
Standard User PhilipD
(experienced) Mon 19-Mar-18 11:49:42
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Re: Domestic WiFi Range or Distance

[re: eckiedoo] [link to this post]

Detectable will not equal usable, far from it. The signal will come and go, often software caches the SSID list and builds up a list from all the faint signals it hears, even if that signal was heard only once and is now drowned out or lost.

The power levels are controlled by various laws and regulation, so domestic Wi-Fi can't use more power, but can use different antenna types, for example favouring horizontal reach rather than vertical reach.

Of course the problem is, even if that better antenna reaches further and you see the signal, the chances are the antenna in your receiving device, when it transmits, falls far short of reaching back to the access point.


Standard User eckiedoo
(fountain of knowledge) Mon 19-Mar-18 12:19:39
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Re: Domestic WiFi Range or Distance

[re: PhilipD] [link to this post]
Agreed FULLY with what you have said.

I am trying to establish a SIMPLE way of getting some idea of the distances that can be achieved in practice, using the simple means at hand.

Personally, I am not looking to use those BT WiFi Hotspots on an every-day basis.


What I would like to see is some of the forum users, particularly with BT as their ISP, try the method and post their results.
Standard User gomezz
(eat-sleep-adslguide) Mon 19-Mar-18 15:51:09
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Re: Domestic WiFi Range or Distance

[re: eckiedoo] [link to this post]
I frequently use BT wi-fi hotspots but do not identify how far away it is from where I am parked up. I suck it and see if it is usable. If not I move down the road a bit and try again.

I try and park by the blind wall of a house or the garage or garden wall rather than loom by people's living room windows and if dark near a street light.

BT Infinity 1 (unlimited)

Edited by gomezz (Mon 19-Mar-18 15:54:37)

Standard User eckiedoo
(fountain of knowledge) Mon 19-Mar-18 19:15:35
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Re: Domestic WiFi Range or Distance

[re: gomezz] [link to this post]
Agreed in the practical circumstances that you are using those hotspots - that I fully appreciate and would probably do the same.


AND it is NOT what I did to get the figures I originally published in this thread.

I sat quietly in my home-office, ran Acrylic from that static indoors location for some hours, to allow an accumulation of results.

I noted the relatively frequent appearance of the BT WiFi Hotspots, realising whilst not "absolutely identical", they may be a means of getting a more realistic idea or confirmation of the distances involved because of the existence the BT WiFi Hotspots Mapping offered publicly and freely to help mobile BT users such as yourself.

Not having access to the BT WiFi Hotspots as I am on on another ISP. I have not been able to establish the "usability" as opposed ti the Detectability.


Thus I have not intruded upon those BT WiFi Hotspots either geographically or electronically.
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