Look, Sport- you might get Wi-Fi… But do you really get ANTENNAS? (Maybe you frau-frau types call them aerials… whatever- go drink your Earl Grey and chill out.) If talk of wavelengths, gain, polarity, and the science of turning electrical signals into RF waves bores you, then move along. Stick with your cute little dipoles and be on your way. But if antennas jazz you, and you understand that this important tip of the communications spear can mold and shape your output and reception in the most incredible ways, well then I have some names to drop in your general direction.
Antennas have played a prominent role throughout my adult life. From my decade stint working and teaching Electronic Warfare to the years of subjecting my wife and kids to my latest homebrew ham radio antenna, I’ve learned much about the power of this component. That power is often overlooked in Wi-Fi, where many of my fellow WLAN professionals deal exclusively in captive antennas (the ones that you can’t see because they’re built in to the access point). But when it’s time to venture into the realm of external antennas, you have real choices. And those choices extend beyond the antenna options provided by your Wi-Fi vendor. Let’s talk about that bigger range of choices.
Get More Possibilities, And Maybe Save Some Money
External antennas add to the cost of any Wi-Fi installation. That’s just a fact of life. But the antenna vendors I’m about to mention just might save you a good buck over your incumbent Wi-Fi vendor, while providing interesting alternatives for a range of deployment scenarios. It’s what they do.
- Ventev all kinds of cool stuff going on. After all, these are the Terrawave folks that long-time WLANers are likely familiar with. From comprehensive site-survey kits to antennas for any “normal” situations to funky-cool offerings like their raised floor antennas, Ventev is worth being familiar with when you need a creative antenna solution.
- AccelTex also makes a slew of Wi-Fi accessories and antennas for many industries and pretty much any application. Here’s an excellent video done at the 2016 Wireless LAN Professionals Conference, by Brian Smith of AccelTex on the topic of Dual Polarity Antennas in High Density Wireless Environments. As with Ventev, AccelTex offers many, many options and keeps current with leading WLAN vendors hardware.
- Then there’s PCTel. Just another interesting antenna vendor with a lot to offer.
Typically, when you shop for antennas you can usually find the exact (or pretty darn close) antenna that your WLAN vendor sells for a given application at a decent price from either Ventev, AccelTex or PCTel. If you buy a lot of antennas, the savings can add up. But you also get more than you pay for in that each of these antenna makers puts out top-quality gear.
Maybe antennas aren’t the most exciting things out there, but they are critical in Wi-Fi. If you’re out looking for antennas beyond the standard omni, it usually means that the success of your scenario will depend on the antenna choice and placement you decide on. Placement is up to you, and even the best antennas are at the mercy of the designer/installer for performance. But antenna choices? You have more than you may have realized. Check these companies out.