Inequality between friends

Wi-Fi can be thought of as two-way traffic down a one-lane street.  The two-way communication is your device on one side and the local Wi-Fi network the other.

Your device is only one-half of the story. Almost always, both sides of the Wi-Fi link have different capabilities.  The local Wi-Fi system usually has serious grunt behind it and can push signals quite far.  Your smartphone on the other hand…Not so much.

A good analogy is a concert.  You can be quite some distance from the stage where powerful speakers push the sound quite far.  Even if there were no other people at the concert, if you were a fair way back, the stage would hardly hear your voice and maybe not at all.

Say there are a couple of walls between your smartphone and the Wi-Fi network.  Your phone says it sees a clear, strong signal, right?  But the performance is not as you’d expect it to be.  Why is that?

Your phone cannot push signals as far, or through walls as well, as our friend on the other side of the link.  For an Access Point trying to receive your phone’s weaker data transmissions, it can be a challenge for it to receive everything being sent.  There can be data loss or corruption and time-consuming retries.  Essentially, there are unequal capabilities between the Wi-Fi network device and your personal device and this impacts efficient throughput of data.

There are simple ways to balance this relationship.  One way is to tune the power of your network Wi-Fi to match that of smartphones or tablets – which can be done with enterprise-grade equipment.

To sum up, similar qualities are needed for both parties to communicate well.  A one-sided relationship doesn’t last long.

Analogies galore spring to mind with that one.