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What's the purpose for the two Wireless Antennas on a WAP?

I have a very simple question, that I'm a little confused about. Here it goes.

Most Access Points have two antennas. One is labeled as LEFT/PRIMARY and the other is RIGHT.

What is the purpose for the two antennas? When I have one antenna connected it works without any issues. Can I just use the LEFT/PRIMARY antenna for wireless connectivity? What are the purpose for the two?

And we are talking about a single band, 802.11b/g NOT 802.11a.

Thank you!

1 ACCEPTED SOLUTION

Accepted Solutions
Hall of Fame Super Red

Re: What's the purpose for the two Wireless Antennas on a WAP?

Hi Rashida,

The use of two Antennas on these AP's is used for "Diversity Mode. In many cases, 1 single Antenna will work nicely. Here is an explanation for the use of two Antennas :)

This describes the use of 2 **Identical Antennas in "Diversity" Mode;

The purpose of diversity is to overcome multipath reflections. Diversity antennas that share the same physical housing are placed at an optimum distance apart. The maker of the particular antenna determines that distance based on the characteristics of the antenna. When you use a pair of antennas with matching characteristics to provide diversity for cell coverage in your facility, the guideline is to put those matched antennas at a distance apart from each other that is equal to a multiple of the wavelength of the frequency that is being transmitted. The 2.4 GHz wavelength is approximately 4.92 inches. Therefore, to support diversity on a 2.4 GHz radio with two separate antennas, the antennas should be spaced approximately 5 inches apart. The antenna pair could also be spaced at multiples of 5 inches, but the distance between should not exceed 4 multiples: reflected waves farther apart than that are likely to be so distorted and different in delay spread that the radio could not work with them.Because each antenna is selected by itself, both antennas must have the same radiation characteristics and be positioned to provide similar cell coverage.

**** Two antennas connected to the same access point must not be used to cover two different cells.****

From this good doc;

Multipath and Diversity

http://www.cisco.com/en/US/tech/tk722/tk809/technologies_tech_note09186a008019f646.shtml

A diversity antenna system can be compared to a switch that selects one antenna or another, never both at the same time. The radio in receive mode will continually switch between antennas listening for a valid radio packet. After the beginning sync of a valid packet is heard, the radio will evaluate the sync signal of the packet on one antenna, then switch to the other antenna and evaluate. Then the radio will select the best antenna and use only that antenna for the remaining portion of that packet.

On transmit, the radio will select the same antenna it used the last time it communicated to that given radio. If a packet fails, it will switch to the other antenna and retry the packet.

One caution with diversity, it is not designed for using two antennas covering two different coverage cells. The problem in using it this way is that, if antenna no. 1 is communicating to device no. 1 while device no. 2 (which is in the antenna no. 2 cell) tries to communicate, antenna no. 2 is not connected (due to the position of the switch), and the communication fails. Diversity antennas should cover the same area from only a slightly different location."

Diversity Antenna Systems

Diversity antenna systems are used to overcome a phenomenon known as multipath distortion of multipath fading. It uses two **identical antennas, located a small distance apart, to provide coverage to the same physical area.

From this Antenna reference guide;

http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/hw/wireless/ps469/products_data_sheet09186a008008883b.html

Hope this helps!

Rob

3 REPLIES
Hall of Fame Super Red

Re: What's the purpose for the two Wireless Antennas on a WAP?

Hi Rashida,

The use of two Antennas on these AP's is used for "Diversity Mode. In many cases, 1 single Antenna will work nicely. Here is an explanation for the use of two Antennas :)

This describes the use of 2 **Identical Antennas in "Diversity" Mode;

The purpose of diversity is to overcome multipath reflections. Diversity antennas that share the same physical housing are placed at an optimum distance apart. The maker of the particular antenna determines that distance based on the characteristics of the antenna. When you use a pair of antennas with matching characteristics to provide diversity for cell coverage in your facility, the guideline is to put those matched antennas at a distance apart from each other that is equal to a multiple of the wavelength of the frequency that is being transmitted. The 2.4 GHz wavelength is approximately 4.92 inches. Therefore, to support diversity on a 2.4 GHz radio with two separate antennas, the antennas should be spaced approximately 5 inches apart. The antenna pair could also be spaced at multiples of 5 inches, but the distance between should not exceed 4 multiples: reflected waves farther apart than that are likely to be so distorted and different in delay spread that the radio could not work with them.Because each antenna is selected by itself, both antennas must have the same radiation characteristics and be positioned to provide similar cell coverage.

**** Two antennas connected to the same access point must not be used to cover two different cells.****

From this good doc;

Multipath and Diversity

http://www.cisco.com/en/US/tech/tk722/tk809/technologies_tech_note09186a008019f646.shtml

A diversity antenna system can be compared to a switch that selects one antenna or another, never both at the same time. The radio in receive mode will continually switch between antennas listening for a valid radio packet. After the beginning sync of a valid packet is heard, the radio will evaluate the sync signal of the packet on one antenna, then switch to the other antenna and evaluate. Then the radio will select the best antenna and use only that antenna for the remaining portion of that packet.

On transmit, the radio will select the same antenna it used the last time it communicated to that given radio. If a packet fails, it will switch to the other antenna and retry the packet.

One caution with diversity, it is not designed for using two antennas covering two different coverage cells. The problem in using it this way is that, if antenna no. 1 is communicating to device no. 1 while device no. 2 (which is in the antenna no. 2 cell) tries to communicate, antenna no. 2 is not connected (due to the position of the switch), and the communication fails. Diversity antennas should cover the same area from only a slightly different location."

Diversity Antenna Systems

Diversity antenna systems are used to overcome a phenomenon known as multipath distortion of multipath fading. It uses two **identical antennas, located a small distance apart, to provide coverage to the same physical area.

From this Antenna reference guide;

http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/hw/wireless/ps469/products_data_sheet09186a008008883b.html

Hope this helps!

Rob

New Member

Re: What's the purpose for the two Wireless Antennas on a WAP?

Wow now that's write up! Thank you Rob!

Hall of Fame Super Red

Re: What's the purpose for the two Wireless Antennas on a WAP?

Hi Rashida,

You are most welcome my friend! Glad to be of some small help here.

Cheers!

Rob

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