I’m sure you’ve all seen ads now and again for long-distance WiFi antennas that can help your PC pick up a signal from a half-file or a mile away. These devices plug into the USB port of your PC. Some of you have asked what the point of such an antenna might be since most WiFi networks are secured. (Even if they aren’t, you shouldn’t use a private WiFi network without permission.) So, I thought I’d explain how these antennas work and why you might need one.
Since I’ve also had questions about whether an antenna like this can improve WiFi reception on a phone or tablet, let’s start with what types of devices can use these antennas. Everyone I’ve ever seen connects via USB, so they only work with devices that have a USB port and usually only computers running Windows or Mac OS. You’ll need to check the product information for the device to see which OS it is compatible with.
It’s designed for receiving the WiFi signal from your router, not broadcasting it. So, it can’t increase your signal strength and broadcast it to other devices.
So, why would you want one for your PC? You could have a pretty large home or maybe you want to be able to get a good WiFi signal in a garage or outbuilding. I also know of a case of a lady who shared WiFi with her sister next door using the antenna. They just split the cost of the bill. A device like this could also be useful if you live in a condo, dorm, or apartment building that supplies WiFi, but you’re far away from the router and not getting much of a signal.
It could also be useful at a campground or hotel. (Be careful on those public networks, though.)