Forum Question: How do i interpret wifi signal strength numbers?

What do the numbers after strength mean? Is -90 closer or farther than -40? How is it to be interpreted with respect to geographicly mapping out my wifi range. Im trying to keep my network off the street.

Comments: 4 Responses to “How do i interpret wifi signal strength numbers?”

    4/17/11 @ 11:14 am

    When you option+click on your Wifi icon in the menu bar, you get a variety of information about the the wifi connections near you, and more about the one you are connected to.
    The RSSI is the Received Signal Strength Indication. It is measured in arbitrary units, with higher numbers being better, and usually 0 being the theoretical best. For Apple devices they used a scale of -100 to 0. But you’ll never see 0, or even close. Most people will see a number between about -50 and -80, with around -50 being excellent.
    More important is probably the Transmit Rate. 0 means no connection. Around 50 is good for 802.11g, and around 80-100 is good for 802.11n.
    As for keeping your network off the street. Why? Just set your encryption (WPA2) and don’t worry about it. You can’t really use these measurements to determine how far your connection goes because it depends on both ends. So your MacBook may not be able to communicate from across the street, but a rig with an antenna and all sorts of enhanced equipment wil be able to. So you’ve got to set a password and encrypt your wifi.

    4/19/11 @ 9:16 am

    that makes it clear, thanx. I guess I’m just thinking back to the Iron Man 2 movie where Ivan Vanko/Whiplash/Mickey Rourke entered a universal code to hack into the system and I think that more than likely every router out there has one built into it either by sneaky engineers at the manufacturer or secret government order. I wouldn’t under estimate any of them.

      4/19/11 @ 9:39 am

      No, you give them too much credit. Plus, much of the software of many routers is open source — and such an exploit would have been discovered long ago.

    4/22/11 @ 1:21 pm

    Wow! That’s a raelly neat answer!

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