Antenna alignment may not seem like a big deal to the average user. Perhaps the manufacturers are at fault. After all, they often don’t emphasize the importance presumably because proper alignment requires equipment and varies so much from one environment to the next. The truth is that alignment is very important and a less-than-deal orientation can negatively affect wireless performance in at least four vital ways.
1. Suboptimal Upload and Download Speeds
The download and upload speeds advertised by your ISP are a best-case scenario. Even if you have a router and wireless adapters able to support those speeds, there are many environmental factors in play. Many of these factors are beyond your control, but one of these factors — antenna alignment — is controllable. Proper alignment helps you take advantage of the shape of an area to get the best speeds possible. Even simple trial and error with antenna adjustments can make a significant difference.
2. Intermittent Disconnects
Improper antenna alignment, particularly when that alignment is poor, can result in devices that have difficulty connecting or will simply disconnect from the network intermittently. Sometimes, a device will bounce on and off the network repeatedly. What you’re doing determines how much this problem exposes itself. If you’re just surfing the Web, for instance, then these disconnects may just seem like a bit of lag, but if you’re playing a multiplayer video game, then this problem can make the connection unusable.
3. Suboptimal Range
Another issue that antenna misalignment can cause is suboptimal range. Range is the acceptable distance between a wireless adapter and a wireless router. Many users employ a wireless repeater or extender to increase that range. When the distance is too great, performance degrades until eventually that signal is lost and reconnection is no longer possible. If you lack proper antenna orientation, then you may not be achieving the maximum range supported by your equipment.
4. Antenna Redundancy
Your wireless NIC, adapter, router or other equipment may have two or more antennas. Multiple antennas let you better take advantage of the shape of the environment and overcome other environmental factors. However, if two or more antennas are situated at the same angle and pointing in the same direction, then those antennas are serving a redundant the purpose. Ensuring that each antenna is pointed differently should improve performance.
If you’ve been struggling to realize the wireless network performance you should be able to achieve theoretically, then maybe antenna alignment should be where you look next. Doing so may require buying an alignment tool or hiring a professional, but that investment will most certainly be worth it over the long-term if you’re finally able to enjoy an optimal wireless experience.